Chinese American cartoonist finds humor amid stressful pandemic
Updated 21:00, 15-Apr-2020
By Shen Li

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many illustrators have picked up their pens and brushes to document their life under quarantine, or bring some happiness to the public. Here's the story of two artists ... one who uses her humorous satire to display her life ... and another who takes Wuhan's famous local dish as a symbol of solidarity. 

A different perspective on life under quarantine.

Weng Chen, a Chinese American cartoonist, has been using humor to depict the changes to her life during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this piece, Weng "conducted" a few fictional interviews with people in quarantine, focusing on the bright side. 

She first started creating comics about COVID-19 in late January, when the virus hit her hometown Wuhan. 

As to her inspirations, Weng told CGTN that: "My comics have always been about my life. So when coronavirus and the pandemic becomes part of my life, it's only natural for me talk about it to draw about it."

From the outbreak in Wuhan to the global pandemic, the novel coronavirus has inspired her to show the importance of physical distancing and wearing masks.

Weng Chen's comic strip about Americans wearing masks. /Weng Chen

Weng Chen's comic strip about Americans wearing masks. /Weng Chen

Seattle, where she now lives, was the first city hit by the virus in the U.S.

As a Chinese American, a mix of eastern and western cultural backgrounds also allows her to offer a unique perspective. 

She has compared things like wearing masks and online education between Chinese and Americans in her comics. 

Through her funny and insightful stories from a personal angle, she hopes to be the bridge connecting the two cultures, as well as challenge stereotypes and stigmas. 

"For Chinese people it's not strange or unpolite to wear masks in public places, but not for the Americans. However this has changed (with the development of the pandemic)," she told CGTN.

Meanwhile, illustrator Chen Xiaotao has turned hot dry noodles, a staple dish of Wuhan, into a symbol of solidarity. 

Her illustration shows a bowl of Wuhan's noodles being quarantined in a hospital room. 

All his other friends, illustrated as local food from different regions of China, gather outside the window rooting for his recovery. 

Chen said she was inspired by the topic "using hometown food to encourage Wuhan's hot dry noodles" launched by People's Daily on Weibo. 

She posted two follow-up works on her Weibo account, one showing the hot dry noodles waking up and the other showing it being discharged from the hospital. 

"There are a lot of details. For instance, I've used bandages and band-aids to show outbreaks in different places in China. In the second one, many of the characters have their bandages removed but still with their masks on. It shows that the situation has gradually improved in China, but preventative measures are still necessary," she said.

Chen Xiaotao's cartoon shows foods from around China cheering on hot dry noodles. /Chen Xiaotao

Chen Xiaotao's cartoon shows foods from around China cheering on hot dry noodles. /Chen Xiaotao

The cartoon was liked and re-posted by many netizens and social media platforms. 

It has even inspired illustrations from artists in other countries.

"I was surprised when the fans showed me renditions of my work by foreign illustrators. I think it really shows that people all over the world are trying to convey love and support amid the pandemic," said Chen.

Humorous, upbeat and heart-warming pictures, perhaps that's something all of us need to help us take our minds off the stressful situation and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

(Cover image from Chen Xiaotao)