Covid (in)consistencies, part 1

I had asked for comic with covid inconsistencies. There were enough comics sent in that I’m splitting the comics into two posts. Part 2 coming tomorrow.

woozy sent this one in:

Andréa points out that Peter needs to cover his nose:

On the other side, Working Daze has been so consistent in showing masks that they put a “Before there were masks” label on a comic where no one is wearing masks in the office.

And two comics from the original post asking for covid inconsistency comics, in case anyone wanted to comment on those.

Some e-mails mentioned covid inconsistencies in tv shows as well. I won’t repost the e-mail discussions, but feel free to discuss tv shows as well as comics in the comments. (I guess that goes without saying, as it follows from the fact that you should feel free to veer wildly off-topic.)


  1. Peter is at home, so the mask doesn’t need to cover his nose. As he specifically declares, the purpose of the mask is to block food, not the virus. Therefore, unless someone believes that teenagers are literally capable of inhaling pizza, the mouth guard should be sufficient.

  2. I don’t really get the Working Daze one. Is the joke that mid-level managers work too much? Why is her stockbroker at home with her daughter?

  3. Working Daze is a well done strip that manages to sometimes break out of the confines of its sub-genre, office life and office workers’ home lives and relationships. The sometime use of photo backgrounds is a small but worthy innovation on the graphics side for newspaper / syndicate comics. Also striking, even though not quite unique, is their openness to showing the readership the changes in the overall style and the characters appearances in particular, as different graphic artists have come in to partner with the writer, and as they settle into their own take.

    (However, I am not a fan of what I take to be the fictive deep history they sometimes present, taking Working Daze back to the early 20th Century.)

    All of that is to say, fans following it currently could recognize this panel as a Throwback from the drawing style, even if the big header was missing.

  4. (Powers, sorry I didn’t see your comment when writing mine.)
    I think this scene is at the office, not at home. The daughter is either visiting her mother at the office, or else (my guess) has a job there as some sort of intern or assistant. And Rita, the bossy one at the left, is so ambitious, work-focussed, and narrow visioned, that she actually sees her own daughter only in the assistant rôle!

  5. I like the somewhat subtle inconsistency portrayed in the bookstore one. Saying Epidemiology is in Self-Help marks them as rather pandemic-conscious. Similarly, though less sharply, the first two things he mentions. So then, why are they standing massless and breathing into each others’ faces?

  6. The original post commented “Dagwood goes to work every day without a mask, as if there’s no coronavirus. That’s fine. But in what conceivable world, with or without COVID, does his boss plan an in-person Halloween party, but change it to a Zoom party at the last minute?”

    I’d suspect that someone in the office got COVID-19 and both working at the office and in-person after-hours events were canceled abruptly. If the announcement came after Dagwood headed home for his costume, the events actually make sense. And it might be more likely if the annual party is normally held at a different site than their office that was suddenly unavailable; a restaurant near us was closed with a note about COVID on the door when we went for takeout within a week after we last did that, which was a little scary.

    A brief comic does not really support lengthy explanation of background that supports the joke; the reader may have to understand character traits on display. Given my minimal familiarity with this comic, specific causes in line with the established character traits might be: the boss realized at the last minute he could save money this way (but would never support remote work in general because workers would goof off); or Dagwood is so clueless at work he thinks it was a last minute change even though everyone knew about it weeks ago.

  7. Dana K’s post makes sense. But it would be clearer if we could identify what Sarah has in her hand. Is it a clipboard, water bottle, something else? For that matter, what is Rita holding?

  8. MJSR— that’s some rather ingenuous retroengineering. I’m impressed.

    But it does paint a pretty depressing cavalier and cynical view of a workplace that doesn’t care at all about the epidemic until it reaches them or only for the sake of appearances.

    But I’m fairly sure the intent was just to point out hey, zoom parties are the new reality trend– light hearted topical is funny. And because it is not carefully thought out, it falls into the Covid Inconsistency we are talking about.

  9. “Dana K’s post makes sense. But it would be clearer if we could identify what Sarah has in her hand. Is it a clipboard, water bottle, something else? For that matter, what is Rita holding?”

    Bottle of soda and bottle of bottled water respectively. (Not necessarily the most appropriate props for the scene…)

  10. MJSR: You’re right, it is possible to make that Blondie strip internally consistent.

    One thing that made it particularly nonsensical for me, is that in my area (Seattle), it would be rather surprising if any business planned an in-person office party in the first place. But after I posted, I realized that this is not true for other parts of the country.

  11. Here’s a long comment on how this was showing up on TV (as referenced in the XKCD and this posting), with some screenshots from Law & Order SVU

    The XKCD says “Movies and shows” so I thought first of how much I’ve been noticing it in TV shows. I was going to bring it up last week, when I watched “Law & Order: SVU” new season premiere episode, which was showing people masked then removing masks in scene after scene thru the whole hour. They even had people filing into an official building and the security desk inspection of briefcases etc now included a forehead thermometer scan of each person passing thru the gate. There was also a whole lot about how the police no longer have the confidence of the public etc — another change of writing perspective all the law enforcement shows are going to be dealing with.

    Anyway, I just watched the Episode 2 of that same show, with a little less of the fraughtness, but still a lot of indecision about when to show masks, and when to let the actors show their faces! Here are three screenshots in quick succession from an early scene (8 or 9 minutes in). A detective from the group of regulars (left) has gone to a school to ask about a student, and is talking with a counselor or assistant principal (right).

    In the first shot, they have just rounded a corner, and the students who were milling around have disappeared into classes. Maybe it’s because the students aren’t still around, but there is no really clear reason suggested why they can unmask. We see the detective starting to pull her mask off in first shot, then they both are mostly unmasked in second shot. They then have a standing-close face-to-face conversation, no mention of why that’s okay.

    Oh y’know what, I should have done the season premiere after all The story did use a twist about masks — they had the suspect in to their station under pretense he was just helping with interview, and at some point asked him to accept a better (filtered) mask from them — then they sent the one he had been using off to get a DNA match from the crime scene.

  12. TLDR: TV shows set in “the now” are having trouble with the whole masking (and social distancing) thing, since they want to try to be realistic about how it is handled in real life, but they also think the actors cannot communicate to the audience with only half their face showing; and directors cannot handle coverage of shooting angles when people are standing far apart.

  13. In NCIS and NCIS-LA, C19 doesn’t seem to exist other than one comment I noted in the latter, where a character remarks that people are working from home more. But that was a trend even before all this. On the other hand, NCIS-New Orleans is full-on pandemic. Everyone is wearing masks, the lead character’s bar is shut down, the first two episodes dealt with counterfeit N95 masks and dead body handling, etc.

  14. I missed the original ask, and this might be in part 2, but Baldo is very inconsistent. They wear masks at school, but no one in the auto parts store. Sometimes when Baldo and Estella are hanging out, they’ll have masks sometimes not.

  15. I don’t follow the LA or NOLA branches of NCIS. But on the original, as Brian notes, they are avoiding the issue, … by setting everything in flashback. The contemporary story is set last year, and the big-deal 300th or 400th episode was in large part a flashback to about 25 years ago!

  16. If you don’t upload your picture, you get a randomly-chosen graphic next to your name. I notice that Dana K got a picture of a coronavirus particle.

  17. I wonder when they say generated based on your email address if it really is generated using your email address as a seed of some kind, or if (more likely I think) they just associate the possibly randomly generated (but more likely pre-generated) one with your email address…
    (Wavatars and MonsterIDs are equally claimed to be “generated”, but I don’t think they are generated on the spot, much more likely they just have a long catalog of them, so I’d think Identicons are the same… If they are just from a pregenerated catalog, how many do you think they have (how long before someone gets someone else’s)?)

  18. I was going to say “there’s no good way to test this” but then I checked in a WordPress.ORG free distribution installation, and the options and description are the same. So the code could tell us something. Of course it may be done at Gravatar rather than locally in WordPress. Anyhow this pictured bit comes from a file wp/wp-admin/options-discussion.php . It’s a little too much to post here but I will save some of it and send to the curious. Or think about posting in Site Comments.

  19. “I notice that Dana K got a picture of a coronavirus particle.”

    Thanks, Mark in Boston, but I can confirm I have not caught anything from my identity icon! 😏

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