New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant, NF ’16, on capturing the dive into post-pandemic life:
“Perhaps the only thing less entertaining than watching someone write a cartoon idea is a cartoonist describing that process to you. It’s not pretty. Much of the time is spent drinking coffee. The rest is spent motionlessly staring at a blank piece of paper, zombie-like, hoping some small bit of truth eventually finds its way to the end of my pen. In my head, I free associate about world events, cultural shifts, and human foibles until an idea forms that is personal enough to reveal a little about the artist but universal enough to connect to the readers. To me, the process feels a bit like seeing a psychiatrist who uses nitrous oxide. It’s uncomfortable and exposing at times, but you often come out smiling in the end.
One of my goals as a cartoonist is to write an ‘evergreen’— a cartoon that creates its own little world that will resonate with readers years after it was published. As a political cartoonist, I also try to add an extra layer if possible, writing a cartoon that addresses a topical news event while remaining ‘evergreen.’ If successful, it can be enjoyed as a present-day commentary on a specific event and, in years to come, be appreciated in a different way, without that context, as humorous cartoon unto itself.
With the worst of the pandemic behind us, it was time to begin to emerge socially. Desperate to see our friends, family or just feel ‘normal’ again, many of us took small steps and ventured back out into the world. A walk in the park. An extra trip to the store. A distanced drink with friends in the frigid, winter air.
The exposure felt dangerous and we knew it could possibly be life-threatening, even with all of the vaccinated, masked, distanced precautions we took. But we knew it was time. Like those fish, we held our breath and, even for a moment, it was worth it to just get away.”