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Chinese Cartoonists Grieve, Pray and Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak


Editor’s note: This article by Jason Li was originally published on 88 Bar on January 24, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, and was updated on January 27 to incorporate a new work by 小民老二 and with information about Papayep’s offer. It has been re-posted here with permission. Jason has also translated an additional comic made in response to the coronavirus outbreak; check that out here: 21 Chinese Cartoonists Unite in a Dragonball Fanfic to Fight the Coronavirus.

As Wuhan and other nearby cities in China remain in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, the normally festive Lunar New Year season has been beset with anxiety and grief. People across the country have taken to social media to share messages of concern, to share tips on staying healthy, and to cheer on the medical workers on the frontlines. Some independent cartoonists have also responded directly to the epidemic, eschewing prosaic happy Year of the Rat illustrations in favor of decidedly more pointed and poignant works. I’ve captured my favorite among these comics and illustrations above and below.

(Full disclosure: Some of these works were created by artists that I work with at Paradise Systems.)


Responding to the widely circulated theory that the virus originated in bats:

It’s Hard Being A Bat, by Fenta from Weibo/Instagram.


Illustration by Gantea from Weibo.


Comic by 1000岛千岛. Read the full story on her Weibo.

Wang XX

Illustration by Wang XX from Weibo.


Illustration by 小民老二 from Weibo.

Additionally, in solidarity with people who are laying low and staying in, comics zine Papayep has released digital copies of all of their previous issues on Weibo and WeChat, so that folks have more reading material to pass the time.


Paradise Systems is Bringing the “Reality-Bending Features” of Chinese Comics Overseas

For more from China’s cartoonist community, see 呀哆’s tips for preventing the coronavirus, Zakuro’s cute family illustration, and wang2mu’s surreal art.

Cover image: Comic by Wang XX from Weibo.

Jason Li
Jason Li is an independent designer, cartoonist and consultant who loves telling stories and researching people. He also serves as the editor of 88 Bar, a group blog about technology, media and design in the Greater China region. His works have appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Asian Art Museum, on the BBC, and on the radio in Spain. Once upon a time, he studied mechanical engineering and education.

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