Last March, at the start of the pandemic, cartoonist Gary Handman — like many of us — was feeling both bored and scared when we all hunkered down at home.
He started drawing — one cartoon for each day of the year.
What You Need To Know
- Handman, who is retired, used to work as a film librarian at UC Berkeley for more than three decades
- The title of Handman's cartoon collection was "Journal of the Plague Year"
- He said the drawings depended on his mood during the pandemic
- This activity has allowed him to enjoy long walks in the neighborhood and long hours to read and listen to music
A year later, LA times City Beat Columnist Nita Lelyveld shared his cartoon journal tracking all the ups and downs of the pandemic.
Handman, now retired, used to work as a film librarian at UC Berkeley for more than three decades. During that time, he ran the university library's Media Resource Center, one of the nation's central academic video archives.
"After I retired, I did some drawing, but when the pandemic started, I began drawing because I was going crazy and was freaked out like everybody else early on. I needed something to do. I started drawing and put them up on Facebook and Instagram," said Handman.
The title of Handman's cartoon collection was "Journal of the Plague Year."
He said the drawings depended on his mood during the pandemic.
"The series was a set of free associations; a lot of it is based on nostalgic recollection, childhood things, and how that related to my current situation," said Handman. "A lot of it was goofy stuff that we are all going through, like early on the toilet paper shortage and stuff. I did a lot of drawings of cultural heroes like [sic] Charles Bukowski to Charlie Parker. A lot of it has to do with fears and anxieties and worries about the future."
Nita said she enjoyed Handman's cartoons because they reflected real-time, but they were also humorous.
"He is very funny, so I immediately connected with that. Also, he drew about all these things we went through like cutting your hair at home, walking through your neighbor's house and wondering how they might be doing, the obsession with looking at the wildlife in your backyard; all these phases of our lives shut-in during the pandemic."
Handman's drawings taught Nita that there were still blessings present despite the hardships faced during the pandemic.
"There is just so much time in a lot of our days, and I think that is how Gary ended up doing a cartoon a day. He has told me this is something he would not have done without this. Suddenly, modern life has you moving around all the time and you fill up space with all sorts of errands and different things you are doing. And without that, a lot of people took on big projects that they would never have embarked on previously,” said Lelyveld.
Handman's cartoons settled him down and served as a form of therapy.
"It was a weird form of Zen meditation" added Handman. "It has been a good opportunity to do a deep dive into my psyche or everybody's collective psyche. It has helped me think about the way I lead my life a little bit differently. It has helped me think of what is important and what you can do without — maybe looking differently at the things you do have. Just going for walks, which seemed to be everyday things, suddenly seem very special and magical if you observe them in different ways. It has been a very cool opportunity to think about life differently."
Click the arrow above for the interview.
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