As medical facilities face an often-overwhelming surge in coronavirus cases, illustrators are increasingly paying tribute to front-line workers.

Fresh images about the crisis are appearing on editorial pages and magazine covers, including the striking art titled “Bedtime” that was published on the New Yorker’s website Monday — which also is National Doctors’ Day.

“The theme for the April 6 issue happened to be a special health issue,” New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly said, “so I let artists know that their ideas should focus on health-care workers, the heroes — [along] with delivery workers, grocery clerks and gas station attendants — of our new dystopian lives.”

Given the warp speed of the pandemic news cycle, Mouly says she will be soliciting “last-minute images” from her contributors for the foreseeable future. For the health issue, she says veteran cover artist Chris Ware “rose to the challenge of celebrating heroism in daily life with his usual brio.”

Ware’s cover — reflecting the double meaning of “bedtime” — depicts a busy hospital in cool shades of blue and green. Emanating from the center of the image are the warm pink hues of a cellphone — as a mother on duty pauses to say a virtual good night to her children.

“The cover was born not only from my daughter’s admonitions” about safety, Ware said, “but also from all of the admiration and anxiety I have for the heroic hospital staff who are faced with confronting the compounding unknown over these coming weeks and months.”

Ware, an acclaimed graphic novelist of “Rusty Brown” and other books often illuminates moments of human connection in his cover art. “I’d imagine that there are few people who do not have at least someone in their family involved in medical care,” Ware said. “And even if they don’t, the doctors, nurses and first responders all have families of their own, about whom they’re all just as terrified and worried as we are.”

Mike Luckovich, the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is drawing pandemic responders and researchers as heroes, while also pointing to the harrowing challenges they face.

One widely seen cartoon of his has emergency workers striking the iconic pose of Marines raising the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima. Columnist Peggy Noonan, writing about the pandemic in the Wall Street Journal, called the cartoon “hokey and beautiful and true.”

“I’ve received emails from all over the country from medical professionals and groups who want to use” the cartoon, Luckovich said. “A White Plains, N.Y., firefighter asked to make a leather helmet shield out of it to wear on his helmet. I agreed and asked if he’d send me a photo of him wearing it.”

Luckovich notes that editorial cartooning is so often a “negative” art form, satirizing the world’s failings.

“Drawing cartoons sympathetic to first responders is different,” he said, “but gratifying.”

Here are some other recent artworks that salute pandemic workers:

Signe Wilkinson (

Steve Sack (Minneapolis Star Tribune):

Jeff Koterba (Omaha World Herald):

Dave Whamond (Cagle Cartoons):

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