Those who know me, know I’m a bit of nerd when it comes to history. I’m a particular fan of old cartoons, especially, the satirical illustrations of William Hogarth, James Gillray, and George Cruikshank, all of whom were great visual chroniclers of social and political history. Their pieces can be rather wordy, but the wordiness adds cryptic meaning to the whimsy often served up in glorious settings encapsulated in grandiose frames. At first glance they look official, but after a second or two the viewer gets sucked into the spectacle being presented. The image below, for example, must’ve been met with horror an ocean away by the well-heeled 19th century subscribers of London. I’d be fired for even suggesting I draw a cartoon that included scalping:
Last night I was given the opportunity to attend a glitzy show opening featuring War of 1812 satire. Not only does it showcase dazzling cartoons from 200 years ago, but also a trio of my own work commenting on the impact of the war in the 21st century and some of the comedy that went along with recognizing the Bicentennial. The student curators below have put together a great show of cartoons (on until September 1, 2014) within Toronto’s Parliament Interpretive Centre commemorating the site of Ontario’s first purpose built Parliament buildings. (L to R: Hilary Walker, Keely Bland, Oriana Duinker, Graeme MacKay, and Kristie Nairn). Kudos also to Sam Wesley, site coordinator, and a fellow Hamiltonian (co-author of the book, Hamilton’s Hockey Tigers).
Below, Graeme MacKay and Brian Gable closely study a Kate Beaton cartoon: