Every year for the last 8 or so years I’ve been attending annual gatherings of editorial cartoonists. Yes, there’s quite a bit of booze consumed, cigarette non-smokers suddenly find themselves smoking, and guitar and harmonica music plays on to the wee hours of each morning. It’s a time to put the pens and Wacom tablets down for a few days to get reacquainted with like-minded people who encounter similar challenges and ups and downs on a daily basis.
It’s always a great time, and a wonderful way of getting away to see different parts of the continent. We alternate every year between holding our own meetings here in Canada, and tagging along with American cartoonists and joining them at conventions in the United States.
The 2008 Canadian Editorial Cartoonists met in beautiful Banff, Alberta. The event was hosted by a newcomer to the ACEC, Patrick LaMontagne, who has quickly established him as a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist who creates amazing caricatures. He’s also one of only a few Canadian cartoonists who runs a blog, and his insight of the convention and other issues pertaining to editorial cartooning is well worth tuning into regularly. My hat goes off to Patrick for putting together an outstanding event, his first convention to attend, and his first face to face encounter with most of the cartoonists in attendence, many of whom intimidated the hell out of me when I went to my first convention in 1999.
Between the distractions of marvelous mountain scenery we sat down together in sessions to talk about publishing books, reviving Portfoolio, job cuts, blogging, animation, and photoshop techniques. Ezra Levant delivered the keynote address at our banquet dinner and passionately spoke out about powerful human rights commissions that are imposing its will and clamping down on individuals who are innocently exercising rights to free speech and freedom of expression. Outside of the panel discussions and over dinners and beers and gondola trips up mountains many more one on one chats went on about other topics.
I had the joy of finally meeting two cartoonists whose work is among the best Canada has to offer: Cam Cardow and Thomas (Tab) Boldt. Neither are too fond of being members of the ACEC so to have them show up for even brief appearances caused me hope that they’ll spend more time at future conventions.
Much to my excitement and enormous trepidation, the Association voted to make me its President. While the long standing joke has always been to bestow the job on whoever might happen to check out to visit the bathroom while business meeting proceedings are underway, I was picked with some warning before the vote. Frankly, the rank of “President” is essentially “convention planner” — which means in 2010, editorial cartoonists will be coming to Hamilton.
We ain’t Banff, but at least we have a mountain to climb.
My wife, Wendi, took the top group photo of us taken in an enormous pick-up truck. The Montreal cartoonists, Terry (Aislin) Mosher, Serge Chapleau, and Pascal Elie arrived in Calgary together with intentions to drive a mid sized car for a 2 hour ride to our conference in Banff. Turned out that the only vehicle left at the rental agency was this enormous pick-up truck. The other group shot of us was taken atop Sulphur Mountain and taken by Eric Daigle, the brother of Christian Daigle, editorial cartoonist at Quebec City’s Le Soleil.