Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
It's a bit premature, but given the traffic we saw over the Fourth of July holiday, it seems pretty likely the Lakes Area will have another spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the near future. It seems we as a county can't – or simply don't want to – buckle down and follow the advice of health officials. I was hopeful for a long time. I saw masks. Things were relatively quiet. But then the grind of cabin fever somehow usurped the reality of coronavirus, and our community seemed to shrug off the collective responsibility of protecting each other. As one might expect, things got worse. In fact, while covering the Okoboji graduation ceremony, I saw a whopping two masks in a crowd of about 150 spectators – and only a few among the students.
You may recognize some faces...you know, since they aren't wearing masks (click the image to enlarge).
As of today, Dickinson County has the 10th highest rate of infection per capita in the state. In simple terms, that means if you picked 10 local people at random and 10 random people from say Sioux County (which has an official population that's about double that of Dickinson County), you would have a better chance of finding a positive case (recovered, active or deceased) among the locals – despite the fact that Sioux County has seen almost 500 confirmed cases compared to our 280-some here. Heck, you're about twice as likely to find a positive case among Dickinson County residents than you are among Story County residents, and Story County has more than five times the people.
That's embarrassing. We can do better.
There's a Ding Darling print hanging on my wall at home. I drew a little inspiration from that old style of cartooning made famous by the Iowan icon, but ultimately I swung back into my own visuals. A lot of things happened during the course of this cartoon – the most prominent being the birth of my second child – so the work actually spans several days on several different weeks. That said, when something matters to you as an artist, it's easy to get back into it once you've stepped away for a bit.
I'm very satisfied with the textural elements of this one. Another custom brush was created to pepper the lower half of the panel with COVID-19 silhouettes. Despite there being a lack of any real ground plain in this work, it somehow reads correct in an atmospheric sort of way. As you can see from the process video below (which also caught the weekly Dickinson County Supervisors meeting via Zoom), I swapped out a few flying items (a ruler for social distancing, a cloth mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer) for a single flying bowl of...something. The arch of the liquid was more important than the specific liquid, and the color choice needed to match the concept. You may also notice I used two reference images. The first was a Google image search for antique baby bonnets – because I've never had to put one on a child, so I'm not all that familiar with their structure. The other was a vintage editorial cartoon on woman's suffrage (and, yes, I have a folder full of vintage editorial cartoons from the DCN and other publications). The textured pencil lines and period clothing helped me hone in on the aesthetic I wanted for my nanny figure. Once all that was solidified, I thought to label the bowel as July, which prompted two more bowels – May and June – already on the floor. The text box is perhaps the only real remnant of the Ding Darling work that inspired me this time around, though I'm not entirely sure it wasn't added without the artist's knowledge, since the original plate (which I also own) doesn't include the text box.