The Hamilton Spectator — Saturday, September 6, 1997
“Great drawings — and he’s local.” That was our first reaction when freelance artist Graeme MacKay, then of Ancaster, started sending his caricatures to The Spectator in early 1995. Their use became more frequent until this summer, MacKay was brought on staff as editorial cartoonist to brighten our Opinion Page with his fine, funny, often biting cartoons.
It’s been a long apprenticeship. Born in 1968, MacKay grew up in Dundas, he was always something of a “news geek” and he was the kid who never stopped doodling. He would draw his teachers and classmates, a sure way to win a chuckle or two. In Grade 4, he drew the whole class, and ran off photocopies for them all, on demand. He also attended junior art classes at the Dundas Valley School of Art in the late 1970s.
Perhaps fitting for a future editorial cartoonist, Graeme went to work as a butcher, at the University Plaza Miracle Mart. But he was cut out for a different future.
At the University of Ottawa from 1987 to 1991, he submitted cartoons to the student newspaper, The Fulcrum, and went on to become the graphics editor. In 1992 he went to Europe with sketchbook in hand and honed his skills. But he also put in time as a bacon butcher at luxurious Harrod’s department store in London.
After returning to Canada in 1994, he worked for the Ancaster News and began submitting cartoons to other newspapers, with growing success. A close call with a sawblade in 1996 convinced him to abandon butchery and devote all his time to cartooning, moving to Toronto to do it. He has since been published in major daily newspapers across Canada plus the Chicago Tribune and Denver Post.
As The Spectator’s full-time editorial cartoonist, MacKay hopes “Hamilton is mature enough to laugh at itself.” He intends to provoke and make a point, but mainly, he hopes to be funny.
He’s also convinced that if he’s done his job well as a cartoonist, he won’t ever have to explain his work.
“I prefer to keep my mouth shut and let my pen do the talking.”