More Pictures of the Pandemic

By Ginny A. Roth ~

Cover of The Vitals: True Nurse Stories, published by Marvel Comics in collaboration with Allegheny Health Network (AHN), 2020

Three months ago Circulating Now published a post presenting new acquisitions related to COVID-19. As vaccination rates rise in our region, NLM’s collection of COVID-19 visual materials also continues to grow steadily.

Seen above is the cover of The Vitals: True Nurse Stories, an award-winning digital comic book published in December 2020 by Marvel Comics in collaboration with Allegheny Health Network (AHN) to honor their nurses who worked on the front lines during the height of the pandemic in Western Pennsylvania. The true nurse stories taken from colleagues, patients, and patient families across AHN’s 13 hospital facilities in Pennsylvania were collected by Marvel and transformed into a comic book staring the selfless and courageous “superheroes” the nurses are in real life.

Drawing of an African-American nurse wearing blue scrubs and holding up her left arm to reveal her bicep that has a tattoo with the words "front line"
“Front Line,” lithograph by artist Terrance Osborne, 2020.

New Orleans artist Terrance Osborne also captures the powerful spirit of the front-line nurse in his lithograph, Front Line, featuring an African-American nurse wearing scrubs with a tattoo on her bicep. The description for the print on his website includes the phrase, “this is for the front-liners.”

Finding ways to explain illnesses to children can be challenging and one creative format for doing so is with coloring books. NLM has several in the collection that address health topics including AIDS and pediculosis. Coloring books, along with an understanding and patient caregiver, can be used as a tool to help children express their feelings when they are worried and confused about COVID-19.


Georgie and the Giant Germ, published in 2020 by Zero to Thrive, in partnership with Tender Press Books, is a downloadable coloring book featuring a little boy named Georgie struggling with his feelings about COVID-19, in particular, confusion about germs, isolation from friends, and fear of being sick. With help from his mother, Georgie learns to express his concerns while his mother learns what Georgie needs to feel comforted.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put pen to paper and created his own poster for the pandemic, capturing what he saw in New York City in 2020. Published a year ago, the Governor shared this statement about the poster. 

New York Tough” poster created and signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2020 conveys what he saw as the city’s ups and downs during the tumultuous year of the pandemic.

Unlike some COVID-19 posters which are created for education purposes, others, like Cuomo’s New York Tough poster are created for political or propaganda agendas. This is one example of an item that earned controversy and confusion over its politicized infographic of a mountain.

One of the more interesting commentaries on the poster comes in the form of a dissection of sorts from an artist, where the author describes elements of the infographic from both an historical and modern day perspective to put the graphic in context.

Many articles were also written discussing the poster from a purely political perspective, each containing mixed and negative opinions.

Finally, the feature image at the top of this post is a snapshot of an artist book.  It is one of several items created by book artist Maria Pisano and recently acquired by NLM. Stay tuned to Circulating Now to find out more about the artist and these incredible new additions to the historical collections.

Ginny A. Roth is the Curator of Prints & Photographs in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.

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