Some people are doodlers during tense or tedious meetings. The majority of American presidents have been so inclined, from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.

Is it a sign of distraction? Actually, research has shown scribbly drawings are a fidgety way to keep our brains engaged. It helps relieve psychological distress and assists us to absorb and retain information.

In the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a medical student, Michiko Maruyama, described her daily doodling as a helpful way for her to recall details in lectures. Now a cardiac surgery resident, she has a Twitter account called @medical_doodles which you can follow here:

Throughout the pandemic, amateur doodlers have been able to scribble – undetected – during interminably long, sometimes dull virtual meetings.

Sima Godfrey, a University of B.C. professor, has been sharing her doodling drawings with friends on Facebook and Instagram.  In the Year of COVID and Zoom, we shall call her a Zoodler.

Dr. Sima Godfrey

Godfrey, who teaches French literature and cultural history at the University of British Columbia, did her Ph.D. at Cornell University. Before she came to UBC, she taught for a decade at the University of North Carolina where she discovered that “men in seersucker suits could still smoke at department meetings.” She learned to sit as far away as possible from them and that’s how her habit of doodling during department meetings all started.

In September, when a new academic year began, she faced a great challenge: transferring 35 years of in-class teaching onto a 13” laptop and then learning “how to talk to dazed faces and unidentified black boxes.” (For privacy reasons, students are not obliged to put on their cameras.)

The new teaching platforms were harrowing and not at all as intuitive as IT staff would claim they were. As the number of Zoom meetings and webinars steadily increased, she fell back on her old habit of doodling with her fountain pen to “express the frustrations of life under COVID.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, the drawings were merely a mindless distraction. But she’d post them on Facebook and friends would encourage her to do and post more of the easily relatable, whimsical cartoons.

Many people urged her to get them published somewhere as COVID cartoons. I even suggested the New Yorker magazine. But then I thought it would be fun to share some of them here. (Scroll down).

If you like them, Godfrey is selling sets of 6 coasters for $18. All the proceeds will go to food banks.

Contact her here: