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Local Cartoonist Barbara Dale Documents Pandemic Using Toilet Paper Rolls

<i>WJZ</i><br/>Barbara Dale used the materials she had at hand to chronicle a pandemic year none of us will ever forget and the materials at hand just happened to be toilet paper rolls.
WJZ
WJZ
Barbara Dale used the materials she had at hand to chronicle a pandemic year none of us will ever forget and the materials at hand just happened to be toilet paper rolls.

By Denise Koch

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    BALTIMORE, Maryland (WJZ) — What did you do during the pandemic? One local cartoonist has quite the answer.

Barbara Dale used the materials she had at hand to chronicle a year none of us will ever forget — and the materials at hand just happened to be — toilet paper rolls.

Dale has had a number of museum curators and artists interested in getting her piece preserved, mounted and displayed. Right now, she has a Facebook page and website.

“I felt so isolated and alone during the pandemic,” she said.

Dale spent her alone time primarily in her Baltimore studio. You may have seen her work: The Stanley Family Comic Strip, Dale Cards, merchandise and the list goes on. But her latest creation came early in 2020 after a bad car accident.

“And I was kinda in a fog and I came up into the studio,” Dale said. She spotted a bin of toilet paper tubes. “Pulled them all out on the floor and said, ‘What form does covid take’ and it became a moment, moment, moment, endless succession of moments.”

Nearly 200 moments — each tube documenting a moment in a year where everything was topsy turvy.

“For some reason, I dreamt about Danny DeVito and I have no idea why. Right here, and then Ruth Bader Ginsberg dies the next day,” Dale explained. “So those three back to back makes this later when you look back on it, feel real. Black lives matter is there somewhere? Right over here.”

“One of my favorite moments was, remember Giuliani’s hair drip? Boy, what a moment. The moment I saw it, I said, that is a toilet paper tube.”

The cicada invasion? “Oh, it’s there. The moments Barbara got COVID tested and then vaccinated and, of course, Bernie’s there.”

“I was just playing and then all of a sudden it took shape and I was like, ‘Oh, this is interesting,’” she said.

The word got out among fellow cartoonists. Nathan Gammill, a cartoonist for The Simpsons, decided to contribute.

“He sent me the Gammill family sampler of toilet paper tubes,” Dale said. “People have sent me rolls from New Mexico, Arkansas, California — in the mailboxes.”

“It’s really nice, it’s really nice. Talk about supporting the arts, you know,” she added.

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