All work ©VicLee2022

The Corona Diary 2020. Originally a hand illustrated journal from the mind of Vic Lee. This Diary began in mid February, when the first real news started to filter through into the UK of an impending virus that was rapidly spreading from Asia into Europe. Life was pretty much as normal in London where I am based. But you could feel this unnerving uncertainty creeping into the everyday

Moments of anxiousness began appearing. It probably didn’t help that I had recently finished a novel based on a virus that wiped out the World by a bat... perhaps my reading lists should be more light hearted. Plus my partner and I had just returned from an incredible holiday in Malaysia and Singapore on the 31st December, feeling incredibly relaxed, which would inevitably be replaced by panic.

This diary is my journey, my experiences, things that I did with friends and my partner as the Corona Virus, or technically, Covid-19 started to take a grip. It does not cover every news story or aspect of the pandemic, but is my view point. The stories I was reading, from the factual to political to the light hearted combined with my living in London and my everydayness. It is as real a diary as could be illustrated and told.

I started this diary to help me deal with basically, everything in the news. To try and make sense of things by writing and illustrating key moments for me. Good and bad. I never set out to publish this, but as I posted on social media channels, Instagram and LinkedIn, it became something more important than just myself. The messages and comments I received on my posts made me realise that many people across the world were in the same mindset. And this diary, even though told from my perspective, resonated with them. So a big thankyou to all of you that have supported me and given me the confidence to continue.

Mainly UK centric and London especially, there are news reports from around the World included, as this is what was fed to us. From Italy to Spain, Asia to America. From the sad harrowing stories to the power of humanity to come together and nature gradually filtering back into a planet decreasing in pollutants.

This is not a political piece nor meant to harm or outrage, the stories are all available through reputable news sources and I have taken words spoken by politicians and governments as readily available. It is important to include, as their comments, words and actions had an effect on my day to day living and insecurities through this period in our lives.

This Diary was my escape, but also my way to understand as each story was written and illustration conceived. It became incredibly therapeutic to put pen to paper each day. The final printed internal pages were uncut, unedited and displayed written and illustrated as they were in real life. As a real journal should be. Unpolished, with typo’s and mistakes, loose lines and smudges.

The mainstream published edition has kept the same look, from the matt laminated cover and spot UV to the cream Munken paper on the inside. It was important working with a publisher to be able to continue the exceptional quality of the original edition, so I am grateful to Frances Lincoln for this.

I hope this is a once in a lifetime moment. I hope this book helps us to honour the people that put their lives on the frontline for strangers. To respect those everyday heroes that continued to work whilst the World closed down. And to the people that didn’t make it and the ones they leave behind.



July. After months of insecurity and much dithering by our government in the UK, we ventured out, cautiously, even actually leaving London. Though the first time we did felt as though we were breaking some sort of boundary law. We had become accustomed to our little bubble in South East London!

The number of deaths were dropping, many countries seemed to be on top of things during June and July and in the UK, Summer was possibly the best we have had in donkeys years. The beaches were rammed, traffic was back to it’s chaotic routine in London and there was a relief of sorts in the air.

We remained cautious, a virus that killed and affected and infected so many, does not pack its bags and go after 6 months. We kept our distance in supermarkets, rarely went out socialising and met small groups of friends outside.

When our neighbours generously offered us the use of their villa in the South of France, we snapped it up. After the final copies of the first volume were sold in August, I was, to be blunt, knackered! It wasn’t just illustrating quite harrowing stories, but the behind the scenes. Organising and packing 2000 + parcels to be sent around the world, customs, Royal mail drop offs, returns, missed parcels. Yes I was ready to slam down by the pool for a few weeks.

Just before we left in August, stories were coming in of more infections around the world. Chaos around travel, more ridiculousness from the Government, mini lockdowns and tiers coming into play.

We arrived in France at the villa at the end of August, with a plan to stay for 5 weeks and relax. So I had time on my hands. France was going through a surge in

cases, we were watching the news daily to keep an eye on the situation, only going out locally in the little towns nearby. All the French were adopting masks whenever out and this was a strict requirement.

I realised that things were not improving as much as we had hoped. It almost felt it was actually worse this time around. So I picked up my pens and began the second Volume,.

As the book progressed it was becoming obvious that we were in a serious situation globally. There were huge marches occurring in every country, hundreds of thousands gathering, protesting, marching. Political and cultural issues, covid deniers, elections in America and across Europe.

I initially thought that I wouldn’t have enough stories to make Volume 2 any where near as full as Chapter 1. How wrong I was.

The second Chapter is an extra 40 pages long!

Doing these books is hard. It’s not a case of drawing a few pictures and writing a few words, but the research. A friend likened my mental state to having PTSD. Reading and trying to not judge or be emotionally affected is not an easy task.

So will there be a third?


But then I said that after the first....

After finishing the first chapter of the Corona Diary, I really didn’t have the energy to do another. And as we neared June 1st, which was the the end date of the first chapter, it felt as though the virus was calming down. Governments across the world were opening borders and flights were taking off. People were holiday bound, socialising gently and it felt as though we could move on with our lives somewhat.

What misguided fools we were...


In August 2020, I was so overwhelmed by the response to the first Artists Edition of The Corona Diary, I felt compelled to donate a good portion of the sales to Fareshare. I had lost all my commissions and had no work pretty much for 14 months and no other way to earn a living. But it felt like the right thing to do. From doing this book and self funding with no idea what would happen, it was incredible to donate £7,500 to Fareshare. This bought 30,000 meals for those in need.

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