In the Herbie comics by Shan Murphy, a woman named Judy gets desperate after several months of self-isolation, and as a result, she resolves to clean her apartment. In the process of doing so, she uncovers Herbie, the stuffed frog toy who was her childhood best friend.
The premise of an adult reconnecting with a childhood toy (that may or may not have a life of its own) is not unfamiliar, but Herbie differentiates itself by placing this character dynamic against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As Judy remarks in the opening strip, the only person she’s seen for months has been the mail carrier below her apartment window, so Herbie becomes her only social outlet.
Once Judy has reconnected with Herbie, they engage in many of the activities that have grown familiar to those of us in self-isolation. They watch old commercials on new devices, they play rebooted versions of nostalgic video games, and they suit-up with masks before taking a hike (which Judy remarks is her only outside activity these days, besides shopping for groceries).
In one strip, Judy is preparing for an important video call. Herbie helps her get herself dressed up and prepared for the meeting, but when the person she’s talking to appears, she finds the effort is unreciprocated: the other caller is hiding behind a “corn on the cob” filter. Herbie takes surreal pandemic moments like this and adds in a talking stuffed frog toy, because at this point in self-isolation… you know, why the heck not?
After 130 days of self-isolation, Judy reconnects with an old friend.
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