Pandemic Generation Comic Gallery

Children aged 7-11 from all across Tāmaki-Makaurau (Auckland) made comics to tell their stories of growing up during the Covid-19 pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand. Kids chose whether they wanted to draw their own comic, tell the researcher what to draw for them, or draw their comic together.

To protect the privacy of child participants and their families, all names are pseudonyms (or “secret names”). Most children chose their own secret name, which is why some of them are a little unusual!

Click on the thumbnail below to see the full comic.

The Comic Book

Lola, age 7, North Shore

Lola won player of the day at netball and was excited to go on stage at school assembly on Monday to be awarded her trophy. But, Auckland went into level 4 lockdown and Lola never got on that stage. Lockdown lasted so long, Lola thought it had been 5 months (it had been 3). She missed her friends but finally her mum agreed to let her go play at their house. Lola always watched her mum to check she scanned the QR codes and reminded her if she forgot.

Izzy, age 9, West Auckland

Izzy didn’t know what a pandemic is, but she remembered getting stung by wasps in the treehouse. Lockdown just meant playing at home with her brothers and going to the dairy. Her birthday was a bit strange though: first one friend came for one hour, then that friend left and another came. She remembered they had cupcakes rather than a cake: for virus transmission prevention, her mum told me after.

Kitten, age nearly 8, East Auckland

The first chapter of Kitten’s comic shows what she and her friends did during lockdown. The second chapter is about learning what lockdown means. The first panel is Jacinda Ardern on the TV. When Kitten was six she didn’t really understand what was going on, but now she’s nearly eight she understands things like how to wear your mask properly and always take the swab thing even if you don’t like it. The third chapter shows Kitten in a moon boot after she broke her foot on the trampoline. Her dad and little brother took her to the hospital. The last chapter is pictures Julie drew under Kitten’s direction. Her cat kept vomiting on her bed during lockdown.

Blaze R, age 10, East Auckland/Japan

Blaze R lives in Japan but came to visit his family in New Zealand for several months during the pandemic. In Japan, the pandemic was called “State of Emergency” and that meant people voluntarily stayed home. One big memory was when one of his teachers got covid and Blaze had to be tested. Blaze was mostly relieved it was a saliva test not the up-the-nose. When he came to New Zealand Blaze stayed in MIQ. “it was kind of a pretty new experience being locked in,” he said, because in Japan they don’t have MIQ. Blaze found MIQ hard because he was too old for the kids’ meals but the adult meals didn’t cater to his needs either (lots of bok choy, kale and quinoa, when he would have preferred macaroni). At exercise time “they said that I wasn’t allowed to run so felt very restricted about that too.” Overall, Blaze felt like “because [the pandemic has] been going on for such a long time it almost feels like normal life” [illustrated by Julie in the last panel as directed by Blaze].

Hudson, age 11, North Shore

“What would you say is like your overall memory or the overall feeling that stands out to you about this?” Julie asked Hudson about the pandemic.
“Depression,” said Hudson. “Because I haven’t been able to see many people so far. Yeah only my classmates so.”

Hudson directed Julie to draw his comic. For him, getting a new puppy was most helpful for his coping and for reenergising him when he’d been laying around stuck at home too long. He has spent a lot of his childhood waiting: for lockdown to end; for more schoolwork to do after he finished early; for the world to get into a steadier place. “It’s the waiting game,” he said.

Jay Cannon, age 9, North Shore

In the beginning, Jay said the pandemic “kind of startled me… I got a bit like, how is this going to go, like am I going to be here for long or is it just going to be like a little, thing.” But then, “my feeling about it was a bit like… just living with it.” Jay felt that lockdown affected his friendships and he got lonely.

Ananya, age 9, West Auckland

A boy in Ananya’s class first told them about coronavirus (panel 1). They were doing sounds of the week and for the “C” sound he said “coronavirus.” Ananya said: “my teacher asked what um, coronavirus was and then he explained and once he finished he looked at all of us like, really he just stared at all of us and then like we all had a big gigantic gasp” (panel 2). Ananya drew the coronavirus as a rainbow “because it has so many feelings…. it makes you really sick and at one time it makes you really dizzy so it gives you a lot of feelings!” (panel 3). For Ananya, the pandemic has meant seeing a lot of news about New Zealand on TV (panel 4). She drew herself lying awake at night “I stayed awake and I was just like asking myself questions in my head about what’s the cure? Am I going to get vaccinated? Is, are my parents going to be safe? Is my relatives going to be okay?” (panel 5). And she drew herself in lockdown: “sometimes you just feel like trapped in your house like your house is jail and now you can’t get out!” (panel 6).

Sofia, age 10, East Auckland

For Sofia, lockdown could be cozy and fun (making tents) but became boring and she missed seeing friends in real life and playing outside. Returning to school was an exciting surprise, where what once was normal has become a shocking strange. Normal still wasn’t normal though because of masking and social distancing measures at school. She said: “when we went back to school, wearing masks, then, they didn’t really smell fresh… my mum tried to buy the most breathable masks but it was still a bit hot and, and you didn’t have a lot of air so you had to, take it back off and then put it back on… we sometimes took, took like breaths, and, I drank water just to take it off.”

Santa, age 8, West Auckland

Santa (she picked the pseudonym and it was close to Christmas) had to sit in a part of the house where a noisy breeze went “wooo” through the room so that her Zoom meeting didn’t interrupt the meetings that other members of the household were having at the same time. She had to get tested after a classmate was positive, and she she lay awake at night worrying about the result. When I talked to her again in March she was isolating because this time she did test positive.

Endegirl, age 10, West Auckland

For Endegirl (Santa’s sister), the lockdown was so long that by the time she had to ride in a car again she’d forgotten what it was like and felt carsick!

Secret Sloth, age 10, West Auckland

Secret Sloth is an only child so her isolation during the pandemic meant she relied a lot on her parents for socialising and help. She said, “when dad was stressed with work mum would try and help me with something, but when my mum was like bit frustrated dad would try do something. But if they were working and they were both a bit stressed and frustrated I would just like give them space.” She did manage to put on press conferences for her family with her friend over Facetime. She would play Jacinda Ardern and her friend would be Ashley Bloomfield over an iPad propped up on a chair. In the last panel of her comic she is imagining what it will be like to get her vaccine, which she was scheduled to receive shortly after our interview. She said, “I kept asking my dad and I kind of just like this it only kind of just felt like that, like a small pinch… But I’m imagining it way worse because some vaccines feel different to others. Like to me because like some needles have to be bigger than others. And even looking at the needle just makes me really scared.”

Lachie, age 9, West Auckland

“I talk a lot,” Lachie told me. “Like if, if I’m in like a- like what’s it called again? Ah, conversation, then I’ll talk a lot.”
“Yeah. You have a lot to say,” I said. Lachie talked so much that he didn’t get much drawing done while I was there, but his mum later sent to me his comic, which he had created on his tablet. Lachie coped with lockdown through very strong routines and through quality time with his many pets. Finding out he had ADHD was a game-changer for his as well, changing his relationship with his siblings and teacher and his experience of lockdown.

Loki, age 11, North Shore

Loki, who gets a lot of anxiety, focused his comic on the strangeness of a normal school day turning into disruption. “I just phoned my friend up saying okay we’re going to be home for a week or a two, I didn’t know we were going to stay at home for three months,” he said. Loki pays a lot of attention to the pandemic, partly because his mum works for a Māori health organisation and knows a lot. Loki also gets a lot of information from the news or “it just pops up on my computer.” Although he was scared of getting vaccinated, he also said “I’m so relieved because […] I got my vaccination just before we went into red.” He is really scared of getting tested all the way up his nose but luckily so far he has only had to have partial-up-the-nose swabs.

James, age 8, South Auckland

James first heard rumours of Covid coming from a bat. His mum is a nurse, and his family have a lot of talks about Covid-19 around the dinner table, so he knows a lot. But lockdowns were boring and he found online school hard because his dad had his own work to do. He missed his friends and it was hard to connect with them over the screen. Luckily, he said, “I just fitted in my birthday party this year. It was on June the 28th it was between those two lockdowns.” James was impressed by politicians’ fancy clothes and would dress up and put on Covid-19 press conferences for his family. He was so happy to be back at school after lockdown, but the devastated when he was sick and had to wait for his positive test result before he could go to school. He cried. James made the family rule: no Covid-19 talk on holiday. “But when we were driving back, there was a lot of talk about Covid and everything which I said turn it off, turn it off!”

Fifi, age 10, South Auckland

Fifi mostly heard about the pandemic from her mum, who would mention case numbers and things. She found lockdowns really hard. She missed going to school and seeing her friends. She could talk to them sometimes on Messenger kids when she had tablet time and they were online, but it wasn’t the same as being with them all day at school.

Fifi did a lot to protect herself and her family from Covid-19. She kept her mask hanging on the wall so she could remember it. Her 3-year-old sister would always remind the family to wash their hands. Fifi saw her mum looked tired and stressed when she came home from work and Fifi would comfort her. And Fifi got vaccinated. She said, “I looked at the needle and it wasn’t that big because I thought it would be bigger but it was only tiny.”

Poprocks, age 10, North Shore

Poprocks’ main feelings during the pandemic have been, as he tells it, “sadness and anger. When you’re stuck inside you get cuckoo.” He says, “I get sometimes when I get pent up happens somewhere I actually just get wild and the anger takes over me.” So during the pandemic he made a dragon book (panel one) because drawing helps with his anger. He missed his birthday because of the pandemic (panel 2) and was still waiting for his party. He was always stuck in the house (panel 3). He asked his dad if he would play a game with him but his dad said no (panel 4). So Poprocks went off by himself (panel 5) to play a computer game (panel 6).

Saara, age 10, South Auckland

Saara loved her cloth mask so it was a tragic day when Jacinda Ardern said people should be switching to surgical masks (panel 1). When her mum was in hospital for a week for a non-Covid related illness, Saara could only talk to her over Facetime because of Covid-19 restrictions (panel 2).

At the beginning of the pandemic Saara’s mum used to come home from work at the hospital and tell them stories about why they should be washing their hands. “And um, I got really scared,” said Saara. She self-isolated in the spare room and wore layers and layers of clothing to protect herself from germs (panel 3). She said, “I try to keep myself safe by myself safe by covering my whole entire body and stuff and walking around with a mask and goggles. And tie my hair into tight braids so no germs will get into it.” She constructed a Germasword 2000 to keep people at least 6 feet away. The yoghurt cup on her head is her walkie talkie so she can check rooms are empty before entering. “I’d just walk around like, with it on top and like, I’d pretend I’m talking to other people like how the mission is going, mission to get a fruit snack.” She’s had 7 or 8 Germaswords over the last two years. She has to keep replacing them when her little brother breaks them. But, she comments, “I do look very stylish with my Germasword and my perfect outfit to cover my whole entire body.”

Connor, age 10, South Auckland

Connor remembers hearing something about a coronavirus in late 2019 from friends talking at school, but he didn’t think much of it until New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown two days before his birthday. At first, he enjoyed lockdown “because not having to go out and stuff,” he could finish his schoolwork off in the first couple hours of the morning and then play computer games. But “after about I think the second month I started getting really bored.” Connor got most of his information by overhearing things on the news and from things popping up on Youtube. It was nice to return to school (with no covid!) although Connor found it hard adjusting to “having to go to bed at set time and having to wake up at set time.”

Katty, age 8, North Shore

Katty drew the “big sick virus” (panel 1) that scared her and caused her to sleepwalk during lockdowns. But in the day she created a restaurant and wrote for her dad the menu of the day. Dad has his phone at the dinner table (panel 2). Katty practiced social distancing with her stuffed toy cat, Celeste (panel 3). She is sad that she can’t cuddle her friends because they have to stay distanced at school (panel 4). An only child, she sits sad and lonely at the table because her parents are essential workers and busy with work (panel 5). But her friends would come under her window and she would drop notes down to them (panel 6).

Jonathan, age 8, South Auckland

Jonathan told me, “I’m going to draw us driving to the funeral and then this is when we’re going to be at the funeral. This is where um we’ll be um, we’ll be hearing about someone being positive. This is us going to be scared. And then this is us going, driving to the [testing site] and then I’m going to draw me getting swabbed.”
And so that is exactly what he drew.

This was a confusing time for Jonathan, he said, because he didn’t know what Covid-19 was. “Because like they said someone, someone’s positive like… and like a kind of tone voice like, something’s going to happen. So, I got confused and I was wondering what’s going to happen. So what came straight into my head was like um are we going, are we going to have to evacuate? Like are we going to have to leave all our homes?”

McKenzy, age 9, West Auckland

For McKenzy, it was scary hearing kids at school were getting sick with Covid-19. She liked to hear the Covid-19 information from Jacinda Ardern on the TV, but when she had to be tested as a close contact she was frightened because “then like I thought everyone dies when they get COVID. So I thought I was going to die.” She really wanted to get vaccinated “because it’s safer” but she had a long wait for the paediatric vaccine to be approved. “I didn’t really care about needles,” she told Julie. “I was like the one who asked to get my vaccination…. My mum was like are you sure you want to do it? And then I was like yeah because as long as I’m safe then that’s all that matters.” McKenzy directed Julie to draw her comic about finally getting her vaccine.

Evilpiggie, age 7, East Auckland

Evilpiggie directed two researchers in how to draw his comic. First his comic shows his experience in MIQ. Their hotel’s exercise area was very small and they could only walk around in tight circles. But Evilpiggie and his little sister invented silly ways to walk to make it more fun. “Make sure they’re actually social distancing so they’re not like right next to [each other]” Evilpiggie instructed Julie when she was drawing the view from above of other families walking. Evilpiggie’s family prepared for MIQ with lots of toys and games, like Lego, Uno, and a marble run. During lockdowns, Evilpiggie missed having friends to play with. He said “I wish I could have a change of person because like I have to play with [my sister] for like a month.”

Miky, age 9, West Auckland

Miky’s comic is all about his trip to England during the pandemic to visit his grandparents because his grandad was very sick in hospital. Miky couldn’t visit his grandad because of Covid-19, but his Gran helped look after him while his Dad went to the hospital, and Miky loved going to the cafe and walking with his dad. Miky has ADHD and this impacted his stay in MIQ with his Dad. The exercise times were so limited and most available slots were very late at night so Miky only got out of the room for three 20-minute slots during the whole week. “But I, I didn’t care,” said Miky.
“You didn’t care. I did,” said Miky’s Dad.
Miky’s dad said it would be okay for Miky to put in his comic how grumpy Dad got trying to book exercise slots, but Miky said, “No you’re lovely.”

Kira, age 11, Central Auckland

For Kira and her sister Vanessa (below), growing up during a pandemic has meant lots of sisterly “disagreements.” But overall, they had a happy time during lockdowns. They lived in Australia for most of the pandemic. Lockdowns meant playing together on a football oval and being taught by their mum Christina at home in “Christina’s Cool School.” The weekend before they moved back to New Zealand, Christina took them on a trip to avoid getting Covid-19 from people popping in to say goodbye. They had to get rapid tested at a coffee shop in the airport that had been turned into a testing facility because the results of their first test hadn’t come through in time for their flight.

Vanessa, age 9, Central Auckland

Vanessa’s earliest memory of the pandemic is seeing her sister Kira looking sleepy and grumpy in her robe when they had school at home. When they returned to real school they had to wear masks. Being stuck together in one room in MIQ was hard and Vanessa and Kira fought a lot and watched too much Spongebob. At one point Vanessa sat in the closet with the shoes. But they also performed talk shows where Vanessa interviewed Kira. Vanessa remembers playing AFL as a time before the pandemic. The last panel shows their mum Christina asleep in the car while the girls did footy training. “That means that she’s worked very hard,” said Vanessa.

Charlie, age 9, South Auckland

Charlie’s pandemic story was all about how the constraints and restrictions affected him. He missed going to the beach and “going in the water and then rolling myself in the sand and becoming sandman.” The first panel of his comic shows him in his living room, imagining himself as sandman at the beach. He also misses playing on the scooter with his friend (panel 2). He found it hard to do school work online—”that’s me mad because how hard it is” (panel 3)—because even though his mum was working from home, she was trying to do her own work and he couldn’t get the help he needed. Panel 4 shows a window and “it’s me inside and like, and I’m sad because I’m not able to go outside.” In panel 5 he is getting tested and the swab has gone so far up his nose that “it’s like gone around the brain and just like pushed the skin off.” Charlie’s family did a lot of walking up and down a mountain during lockdown. “Lots and lots and lots of walks… I don’t really like walking.” Charlie really missed being able to play running games with big groups of kids, like they do at school.