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14th May 2020

In_pictures Coronavirus: Norwich comic book artist MJ Hiblen draws NHS ‘heroes’

In_pictures Coronavirus: Norwich comic book artist MJ Hiblen draws NHS ‘heroes’

In_pictures

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MJ Hiblen

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The artist said “it was done in a very comic book style” to reflect the idea that NHS workers were superheroes

A freelance comic book illustrator has turned his hand to drawing NHS “superheroes” in a series of emotive artworks based on the coronavirus pandemic.

MJ Hiblen started his themed pictures after seeing friends in the health service being “battered” by the effects of the virus.

“These people are working really hard and they are quite literally our heroes, hence the fact that it was done in a very comic book style,” he said.

He said the images were of workers “showing a little bit of a frustrated feeling, and a bit of a feeling of defiance”.

The pictures – drawn using an electronic tablet and shared on his Instagram account – have resonated with healthcare workers worldwide.

“I was quite shocked, because I didn’t expect that level of interest from people really… it was humbling to be honest.”

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MJ Hiblen

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“Doctors and nurses are absolutely heroes, but I got the impression they were feeling battered. I did the coronavirus picture because I knew people would appreciate it.”

Although based in Norwich, most of Hiblen’s clients are in the US. He illustrates everything from comic books to logos and personal commissions.

When requests started coming in for more corona-themed art, he was happy to oblige. Each picture takes “a couple of hours”.

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MJ Hiblen

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“I try to put over in a lot of the drawings that coronavirus is wearing people down. They felt that instead of it being more flowery, it tapped into something a little bit more base.”

This is not the first time Hiblen’s work has been appreciated around the world.

His previous comic book art has been shared by James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and Chris Hemsworth – best known to Marvel fans as the actor who played Thor.

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MJ Hiblen

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James Gunn and Chris Hemsworth have reposted Hiblen’s work onto their own Instagram accounts to share with fans

Now, following social distancing rules, he says his life has not changed too much.

“I am very lucky that I can keep working… the only difference for me is I like to draw around people, so I often go out to a coffee shop or something,” he said.

“I turn myself into a bit of an artistic nomad. I must admit I am missing that right now.”

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MJ Hiblen

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“I’m starting to kind of miss people… seeing people going about their lives. You don’t always realise how much you need that,” said the artist

In the meantime, he says art and dedicating time to our hobbies can be a respite from stress.

He said it does not have to be your best or most-skilled work.

“I don’t think artwork should be precious, I think it’s all about the idea,” he said.

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