Cartoonist captures public mood following Toronto, Humboldt tragedies

Cartoonist said he was trying to find a bit of positivity with an image that has garnered attention

Halifax cartoonist Michael de Adder says he was simply trying to find a small bit of positivity with an image that has garnered national attention for its depiction of recent tragedies in Toronto and Humboldt, Sask.

The cartoon, published in the aftermath of Monday’s van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured 14, shows two boys in hockey sweaters sitting on a bench, sticks by their sides.

The boys, one wearing a green and yellow Humboldt Broncos jersey and the other wearing a blue and white Toronto Maple Leafs sweater, have their arms around one another, supportive in crisis.

“The reality is, I’m just happy to perhaps in a small way add a little bit of positivity in a very negative situation, so that’s all I’m trying to accomplish with that cartoon,” de Adder said in an interview.

De Adder, an award-winning national freelancer, is one of two Halifax cartoonists regularly garnering attention for works that appear to capture the national mood.

Bruce MacKinnon, the Halifax Chronicle Herald cartoonist for whom de Adder often substitutes, gained a similar audience for a cartoon this month following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 13.

MacKinnon said there’s no set protocol for producing work in such trying circumstances.

“There is a lot more sensitivity involved and you have to consider all the factors a lot more carefully because every nuance in the cartoon is going to be examined very carefully by the reader,” he said. “Sometimes that adds to the power of the cartoon if you get all those nuances right — if you don’t you could end up being a lightning rod for a lot of anger.”

MacKinnon’s Humboldt cartoon depicts the provinces and territories as a group of red-shirted hockey players coming to the aid of a green-shirted Saskatchewan player. The slumped player has his arms around his closest neighbours, Manitoba and Alberta, who are supporting his weight.

“The thing that stands out about the story aside from the obvious sadness … is the outpouring of compassion of Canadians,” he said of his inspiration for the drawing.

De Adder said his Toronto cartoon was the result of an evening of struggle to come up with what he thought would be an appropriate response to the tragedy.

He said he probably worked on 10 thumbnail sketches before gradually deciding he was on the right track, adding that it’s one thing to get an idea, but another to depict it.

“I knew I was going to have Humboldt consoling Toronto, but I didn’t know if I was going to do adults, or a couple, or two guys. I went with kids and it sort of worked the best.”

The cartoon was posted on de Adder’s Twitter account and has since received thousands of likes from people calling it “heartwarming” and a “beautiful tribute.”

The image was re-tweeted by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who remarked “well done @deAdder” as part of a message expressing condolences to the victims and their families and thanking first responders.

Another Twitter user said: “I am from Saskatchewan and this hit hard. Thank you for remembering our recent loss as well.”

Over the years, MacKinnon has received national and international acclaim for several of his cartoons, including one following the shooting death of army reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial in Ottawa in 2014.

That cartoon trended on Twitter and requests to use it came from media outlets like CNN, Fox News, and The Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom.

Another MacKinnon cartoon depicting the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings last fall — Uncle Sam re-assuring the NRA that “you’re safe” amid the bodies of gunshot victims — was also picked up and re-tweeted by a host of celebrities, including actors Ron Perlman and Mark Hamill.

Both Halifax cartoonists downplay the attention for work emanating from a smaller market such as Halifax.

They also say they have known each other for years, and share a friendship rather than an outright rivalry.

“We’re sort of in our own little drawing-table worlds,” said MacKinnon. “We are always trying to outdo each other and that kind of thing and that’s a healthy environment.”

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ponoka’s Ronnie Racing wins Hot August Night

About 15,000 people filled the Castrol Raceway stands at the motorsports complex

Ponoka County residents divided on farmland uses

There were about 150 people at the county’s meeting related to reducing confined feeding operations.

Ponoka County slows changes to CFO plans

Residents speak their concerns over the potential of changing areas allowing CFOs

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth this year

Ponoka Traffic Unit investigate scooter incident

A motorcyclist appears to have lost control of her Suzuki scooter on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

Vintage vehicle subject of RCMP search

Two Hills RCMP seek to identify owner of recovered 1940’s vehicle

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

Most Read