Today is the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. I remember in the aftermath it became briefly fashionable to care about editorial cartooning. On the day of the massacre itself, I did about seven or eight interviews on as many different TV and radio stations across the country. A lot of columnists and pundits got really self-righteous about the importance of editorial cartooning, and how editorial cartoonists were heroic champions of free speech and critical dissent in a world that badly needed it.
A few months later, I lost my regular editorial cartooning job at Medium’s “The Nib,” and a few months after that The Nib’s editor, my pal Matt Bors, quit and the whole Nib thing shut down. The Nib had promise to be a 21st century frontier of editorial cartooning, but the people in charge ultimately concluded it just wasn’t worth it.
Over the last year I too have come to the conclusion that no one really likes editorial cartoons much on this continent, and that there exists no real demand for them emanating from readers or publishers. When I started drawing editorial cartoons about Canadian politics back in the early 2000s, I got a lot of attention and praise for being a young pioneer, but it never amounted to anything. My most lasting legacy was getting published in several editions of “Portfoolio,” the self-proclaimed yearly collection of “the best Canadian editorial cartoons.” It always sold poorly and is no longer published.
People might claim to like the idea of editorial cartoons in the abstract, but they’re not something anyone wants to spend any money or time supporting. That’s sad, but it’s also an inescapable reality of the modern world. Editorial cartoonists are being laid off left and right as unprofitable newspapers seek to “trim the fat.” I sympathize with the affected cartoonists, but I find it hard to blame editors for making logical decisions.
You’ll notice I don’t really draw editorial cartoons anymore and that’s just a deliberate decision to try to focus my creative energies on producing what people — and the marketplace — actually want, instead of what I think they should.
Years ago I was at a comic show in Massachusetts and this one cartoonist, an older guy, told me it was a bit like vaudeville. You could be the best vaudeville performer in the world, and people might be always telling you that you’re better than any other vaudeville performer they’ve ever seen, but you’re still ultimately tied to a dead and unpopular art form. So I’ve decided not to be.7 Comments; - Discuss on Facebook
Here is a new video I made about stuff that is named after people who know one remembers.
And here is my this-week’s article for Loonie Politics, about my old favorite topic, the monarchy and Canada. Specifically, we look at how the media covered Prime Minister Trudeau’s fawning praise of the Queen during his recent trip to the UK.1 Comment - Discuss on Facebook