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70+ Comic strips come together this Sunday to tell COVID-19 first responders "Thank You"

(Image credit: Rick Kirkman/Jerry Scott (King Features Syndicate))

In this Sunday's newspapers (or however you read comic strips), over 70 comic strips including Blondie, Doonesbury, and Dick Tracy are taking part in an industry-wide show of gratitude for the first responders and volunteers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Every participating cartoon in the newspaper comics, or online, has six symbols in it," Baby Blues cartoonist Rick Kirkman, who came up with the event, tells Newsarama. "Some cartoonists are hiding them like in the Hidden Pictures game or I Spy. Some are using them in their jokes. The goal for the reader is simple. Find the symbols in the comics. Every time you find one of those symbols in the cartoon, it’s a reminder of what we owe those people who have gotten us through this crisis. That’s hundreds of symbols to find! Pay attention, cartoonists can be pretty sneaky!"

The hidden symbols will be: a mask (for medical workers and caregivers), a steering wheel (for delivery personnel), a shopping cart (for grocery workrs), an apple (for teachers), a fork (for food service workers), and a microscope (for medical researchers). Some will be hidden, some will be the subject of that day's cartoon.

(Image credit: Hilary Price/Rina Piccolo (King Features Syndicate))

 The 71 comic strips (and their cartoonists) taking part this Sunday are: 

  • Baby Blues (Kirkman and Jerry Scott)
  • Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (John Rose)
  • Blondie (Dean Young and John Marshall)
  • Buckles (David Gilbert),
  • Daddy Daze (John Kovaleski)
  • Dustin (Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker)
  • The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee (John Hambrock)
  • Family Circus (Jeff Keane)
  • Mallard Fillmore (guest artist Loren Fishman)
  • Mutts (Patrick McDonnell)
  • Prince Valiant (Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates)
  • Rhymes With Orange (Hilary Price and Rina Piccolo)
  • Sally Forth (Francesco Marciuliano and Jim Keefe)
  • Sherman's Lagoon (Jim Toomey)
  • Six Chix (Mary Lawton)
  • Zits (Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman)
  • The Argyle Sweater (Scott Hilburn)
  • Real Life Adventures (Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich)
  • The Flying McCoys (Gary McCoy)
  • Lio (Mark Tatulli)
  • Pearls Before Swine (Stephan Pastis)
  • In the Bleachers (Ben Zaehringer)
  • Tank McNamara (Bill Hinds)
  • Overboard (Chip Dunham)
  • Baldo (Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos)
  • Wallace the Brave (Will Henry)
  • Off the Mark (Mark Parisi)
  • Betty (Gary Delainey and Gerry Rasmussen)
  • Breaking Cat News (Georgia Dunn)
  • Non Sequitur (Wiley Miller)
  • Doonesbury (Garry Trudeau)
  • Overboard (Chip Dunham)
  • Stone Soup (Jan Eliot)
  • Alley Oop (Joey Alison Sayers and Jonathan Lemon)
  • Thatababy (Paul Trap)
  • Ginger Meggs (Jason Chatfield)
  • Drabble (Kevin Fagan)
  • La Cucaracha (Lalo Alcaraz)
  • Over the Hedge (T Lewis and Michael Fry)
  • Born Loser (Chip Sansom)
  • Adam@Home (Rob Harrell)
  • Big Nate (Lincoln Peirce)
  • The Buckets (Greg Cravens)
  • Frazz (Jef Mallett)
  • Pooch Café (Paul Gilligan)
  • Reality Check (Dave Whamond)
  • Rose Is Rose (Don Wimmer)
  • Prickly City (Scott Stantis)
  • Frank & Ernest (Tom Thaves)
  • Luann (Greg Evans)
  • Lola (Todd Clark)
  • KidTown (Steve McGarry)
  • Fort Knox (Paul Jon Boscacci)
  • Loose Parts (Dave Blazek)
  • Mike du Jour (Mike Lester)
  • Barney & Clyde (Gene Weingarten, Dan Weingarten, and David Clark)
  • Speed Bump (Dave Coverly)
  • Other Coast (Adrian Raeside)
  • Rubes (Leigh Rubin)
  • Daddy's Home (Tony Rubino and Gary Markstein)
  • Herb and Jamaal (Stephen Bentley)
  • Mazetoons (Joe Wos)
  • Strange Brew (John Deering)
  • Zack Hill (John Deering and John Newcombe)
  • Agnes (Tony Cochran)
  • Dog Eat Doug (Brian Anderson)
  • Flo & Friends (Jenny Campbell)
  • Free Range (Bill Whitehead)
  • One Big Happy (Rick Detorie)
  • Speed Bump (Dave Coverly)
  • Dick Tracy (Mike Curtis and Joe Staton)

These strips will be featured online at ComicsKingdom.com, GoComics.com, and on social media with the hashtag #BigThankYouSearch. There, the cartoonists also have the opportunity to share their favorite charity with readers.

"The main goal is to create a massive wave of gratitude on Sunday. To use social media during this Thank You Search to turn that attention toward donating," Kirkman says. "And in the process, I hope we'll provide a little distraction for both the readers and the cartoonists."

So how did all this get coordinated? Well, thanks to the United States-based National Cartoonist Society (NCS).

"Anyone who has ever volunteered to organize events with a large number of artists will tell you it's like herding cats, but when there is a good cause we all rally and do whatever it takes to help," NCS's Jason Chatfield says.

"In general, cartoonists don’t like to be expected to join in on anything. Otherwise, we’d all have different jobs," Kirkman adds. "But I think most of them realized the need to thank those incredible people, who persevered, and gave of themselves way beyond what should normally be expected, and took risks to do it."

Chris has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the  2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and the 2012 Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.