As conventions come and go it’s nice to take stock and review the highlights of such events. This past weekend’s gathering of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists in Toronto was packed full of great venues and intriguing discussions. Tip of the hat goes to Wes Tyrell, whose energy and passion fuelled the conference like no other before this. Here are some of the sights and delights of #ACC2016.
Gathering with cartoonists and willingly herding ourselves into classrooms should go quite counter to our very beings. Doubly amazing is the fact that even with a table full of Tim Horton’s coffee and baked items in the back of the classroom, nary a trouble maker abandoned themselves from the stimulating talks to linger around near the exit. During the Friday sessions we were updated by free expression champions CNRI Dan Murphy, crocodile Nik Kowsar, and No-Fly Shahid Mahmood. Preservation superhero Christian Vachon reported on the repatriation chronology of a hoard of Duncan MacPherson cartoons from an American college to the permanent collection of the McCord Gallery in Montreal. Robert LaFontaine extolled the virtues of Quebec’s 1001 Visage Caricature festival, which won over the crowd, and will play host to the next gathering of the ACC in 2018.
Beginning the Saturday morning session a passionate trio of fine art scholars, Josée Desforges, Julie-Anne Godin-Laverdiere, Nancy Perron Rogers, and Professor Dominic Hardy of UQAM dove into a facsinating presentation on Quebec illustration, and in particular, how art influences cartoons. One of the students recalled the time in 1965, when a Department Store donated to a Montreal shopping centre an exact replica of Michelangelo‘s Statue of David. There was a public outcry from some people, and a public debate ensued about the appropriateness of such a display of male nudity in a shopping plaza. Veteran Toronto cartoonist Mike Constable made a rare appearance and showed off some of his quirky digital animations. Philip Burke took to the stage after a slick short documentary of his life made its debut. The amazing Buffalo born illustrator whose art has graced Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Time, to name a few answered a few questions in advance of his afternoon live painting at the Bedford Academy (see below). Ann Telnaes of the Washington Post and Jack (P-word) Ohman of the Sacromento Bee showed their work reflecting the state of U.S. politics with everything Donald Trump, and presented some of their animations. Jack’s very personal long form comic strip chronicled his dad’s final years and left many eyes in the room wet.
My little YouTube Movie “The Life of An Editorial Cartoonist” made this venue its world public premiere
And this delightful video by the wonderful and clever Dan Murphy, made its debut,
Zoomer Studios, Liberty Village
Friday afternoon was spent at Moses Znaimer‘s Zoomerplex in the west end where the topic of editorial cartoonists and the work that we do was featured for an upcoming issue. The show was moderated by Faith Goldy, peppered with the commentary of her sidekick, and longtime target of satire, Lord Conrad Black, Baron of Crossharbour. Pictured below at the Zoomer roundtable are L-R: Sue Dewar (Toronto Sun), Conrad Black, Terry Mosher (Montreal Gazette), Faith Goldy, Wes Tyrell (Zoomer Mag & ACC President), Michael de Adder (Halifax Chronicle Herald), Andy Donato (Toronto Sun), and Malcolm Mayes (Edmonton Journal). A game of musical chairs happened in-between ads when visiting U.S. cartoonists, Jack Ohman (Sacramento Bee), Kevin Kallaugher (Baltimore Sun), and Ann Telnaes (Washington Post) added their own take on politics to the south as the 2016 appears to be shaping up to be a Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump contest.
Royal Ontario Museum
Our Friday evening was spent at the big old building on University Avenue famous for its ancient mummies and Grecian urns. It began with a nicely attended public panel called Drawing the Line: Conversations on Press Freedoms. It included two of North America’s great editorial cartoonists, Canada’s Brian Gable of the Globe & Mail, and from the United States, Kevin (Kal) Kallaugher of the Baltimore Sun, and the Economist magazine. Both presented slide shows of their past cartoons and even gave the audience some how-to-draw lessons. Brian taught the gathering how to draw Justing Trudeau, Kevin meanwhile showed the amused crowd how to draw Donald Trump. The third panelist was Mohamed Fahmy who drew nothing, because he had to make a hasty exit, in order to catch a flight… the next morning. If he stayed around he could have joined convention attendees who made their way down the hall to the museum atrium which had been turned into a nightclub where music boomed and food and cocktails lubed the assembled partiers. The theme of the night was called “Punchline” and it featured a recurring show of our editorial cartoons projected on a wall opposite the Futalognkosaurus skeleton. See the short clip below to get a feel for this unique event.
For a sense of our evening entertainment here’s a YouTube clip filmed by Wes Tyrell from “Punchline” featuring the work of cartoonists
Philip Burke at the Bedford Academy
What a treat ACC convention attendees experienced when the the upstairs of the Bedford Academy of Yorkville became the venue for a Saturday afternoon show by Philip Burke who painted a spectacular portrait of Wes Tyrell. All the while, we downed pints and ate finger foods while Philip worked his magic and Wes had to sit very still, for 4 hours. This moment was the culmination of year long blossoming friendship by the two that all began because of a simple FB compliment Wes delivered to Philip after being dazzled by the works on exhibit at Buffalo’s Burchfield Penney Art Centre from April 10 – September 13, 2015. Philip’s a very kind soul and is the latest illustrator to associate himself with a group which was traditionally been made up of just editorial cartoonists. He joins other notables such as Anita Kunz, Barry Blitt, and Matt Diffee, as an effort to broaden our scope to involve more like-minded satire artists. All part of the reason we now call ourselves the ACC, formerly the ACEC, the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists.
Encapsulating the afternoon here’s another YouTube clip by Nik Kowsar
The Bata Shoe Museum
The final evening of the Toronto convention was spent across from the Bloor Street hotel at the Bata Shoe Museum. There, Premier Kathleen Wynne and her partner Jane Rounthwaite joined in to celebrate the lifetime careers of Andy Donato, of the Toronto Sun, and Terry Mosher of the Montreal Gazette. Newspaper big wigs including Andrew Phillips, Lorrie Goldstein joined Post Media grand poobah Paul Godfrey to toast the combined 100 years worth of cartoon stardom. Wes Tyrell, on the eve of his being reappointed for a record 3rd term as Association President wore a splendid pac-man styled suit, which was warmly acknowledged by the Premier in her opening remarks. The occasion was also used to announce the 2016 winner of the ACC Townsie award. Dale Cummings won for his english language submissions, while Christian (Fleg) Daigle won for his French language entry. The final hours were spent trying on some of the wacky shoes and making the most of a tremendous convention. Hats off to Wes and the Toronto team for a great job. Now looking forward to Val David in 2018.
Photos courtesy of the following, Christian Vachon, Scott Burns, Tim Snyder, Wes Tyrell, Jennifer Jones, and Nik Kowsar. For more precise descriptions of each photo please visit this album on Graeme MacKay’s Flickr Account
The Toronto Sun sent a reporter to the Bata Shoe Museum reception. Here’s the text of their coverage:
Donato’s 50 years of work celebrated – even by premier
Wynne says she holds no grudges for criticisms
BY JENNY YUEN, TORONTO SUN
Veteran Toronto Sun cartoonist Andy Donato draws it the way he sees it.
In one of his memorable pieces, Donato drew Hamilton East voters with “butt heads” after the city re-elected then-beleaguered Liberal MP Sheila Copps in 1988.
The mayor of Steeltown threw a fit and immediately got on the horn with Postmedia’s CEO Paul Godfrey, who was publisher of the Toronto Sun at the time.
“He said, ‘Mr. Godfrey, it’s the mayor. Your paper with that guy Donato embarrassed us like never before. I know how many calls I’ve had. I know how many calls I’m getting. I want Donato fired and a pledge that you’ll never do that again to the people of Hamilton,’” Godfrey recalled Saturday night at the Bata Shoe Museum, where Donato was honoured for his 50 years of work.
When Godfrey and the mayor agreed to speak off the record, Godfrey asked if he thought the cartoon was funny.
“He basically said, ‘You promise you won’t tell anyone? I found it hilarious,’” he said, as Godfrey’s audience erupted in laughter. “I told him, ‘When you hang up, you tell your people you called me as the publisher of the newspaper and you demanded all those things. That will let you off the hook.’ He hung up. Two minutes later, he calls back. ‘When this fury does down, can I get your original?’”
The Association of Canadian Cartoonists honoured Donato, 79, and prolific Montreal cartoonist Terry Mosher by presenting them with personalized hockey jerseys.
“It’s a great honour,” Donato said at the awards ceremony. “I’m just kind of knocked out that the premier is here. I’ve been tough on her and she’s a delight. That’s the problem with this business is we attack these people. I’m still going to criticize her, but that’s part of the job.”
Donato said he is proud of the aforementioned Hamilton cartoon, but also the drawing of “The American Dream” in 1979, depicting the soldiers raising the Iwo Jima flag from the backside of Ayatollah Khomeini, which won an award as best editorial cartoon in the world the following year.
“We had posters printed out, it was on T-shirts,” he said. “All the customs guys at the airport had buttons.”
Wes Tyrell, president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists, said Donato continues to thrive, even in the digital age.
“He has been able to consistently deliver when many careers for many other cartoonists would last for five or 10 years, Andy has proved he is trans-generational,” Tyrell said. “That’s not an easy thing. That’s an element that gets a lot of respect from cartoonists.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne expressed gratitude for editorial cartoonists.
“I will just start by saying, I hold no grudges,” she said. “The work you do is so important. It does make us laugh, but I know you’re very serious about what you do. You’re speaking truth to power and your cartoons really capture where we’re at as a society.” (Source: Toronto Sun)
It has become very apparent in recent years how social media, particularly during election campaigns, has empowered the wing-nut body politic. It used to be kept at a certain level of decorum and higher standard in the days before the Internet when letters editors separated the readable public commentary from the rantings of idiots. Social media, many argue, has democratized free speech by giving everyone with the ability to type words on a keyboard or into a “smart” phone a voice. Problem is, the idiot voices on social media now overwhelm the sophisticated commentary making it next to impossible to find any worthy substance in it. It is a forum for throwing around opinions and insults, a place to promote bigotry and accusing people of racism (and every ism for that matter). Where the wild frontier of unregulated virtual freedom of expression gives amnesty to pirates of intellectual property. It has become by default, a zone for which polite engagement is automatically greeted by rude and boorish behaviour. Pssst, there’s a soft-spoken mantra in newsrooms when it comes to dealing with this sort of aggressive online agitator: Don’t engage with them. In the vastness of cyberspace, the warning is don’t feed the trolls.
Introducing James Stewart, not the famous Hollywood actor, but “Teflon Jim”, as he goes by on Facebook. I had an interesting encounter with him on Facebook today that I’d love to share with my readers. Bottom line is, Jim doesn’t think it’s wrong to download cartoons or any image from the Internet and slice and dice those images and repost them on his many Facebook pages for his adoring audiences. He claims he’s got the captains of Big Social Media backing him up on this copyright free-for-all. While he denies altering my image, he says he downloaded the cartoon in some state, refusing to remove it at my request, and adding that I should be grateful he’s giving me the exposure to his FB audiences. Yeah, shame not on him, but shame on me for asking to remove my vandalized intellectual property. In this case it’s the artist defending his work who’s the troll in Jimmy’s world.
His view of artists, I found, is not very glowing, particularly for a card carrying member of the Green Party. Here’s some of James’ messages to us regarding our work:
If you post something on Facebook, it becomes public domain. People can do with it as they please. Those are the rules, please learn them. And whether or not you get your “Panties in a Knot” over it, the situation will always be the same.
You should be proud if someone shares your stuff my friend. If they go further to download it and send it out as something special, you should be more proud.
Yet nobody is going to put up with your whining and complaining “Mine Mine Mine” on Facebook. Just a fact. Also the rules.
It turns out he’s had other run-ins with others who’ve stumbled on their own work modified on his page:
I got the same crap over the artist who made this photo for a group he was in. Excellent Photo and very relevant to my group. This I did alter, taking his group name out of it, and it has been the front photo on my most popular video.
He demanded I quit using it, and even complained to Facebook after I told him to shove it! They sided with me, and I am glad: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201925658244310&set=o.202199749840008&type=1&theater
After I mentioned to him that I found it quite rich when people who are first to scream out against the unethical behaviour of those in authority prove themselves to be unethical, James answered back:
No in fact this has been discussed at great length and decided upon. The only people who give a rats ass about it are the artists.
*Note for Artists*
Do not share your art on Facebook if you get your “Panties in a Knot” if someone crops it or changes it or uses it in any way.
Those are the rules. You signed them when you signed up to Facebook, and the same is true on all Social Media. NO Social Media is on your side on this issue.
He even used the opportunity to compare intellectual property with his green energy passion:
…it is kinda like arguing over Oil Jobs and how many people would be put out of work by Alternative Energy. It would actually increase the work, but less profit for the Elite.
Artists make art to be seen. They have a tie to it as they made it, and that I understand. Yet it is either kept in a closet or seen. You cannot help what people do with art. Best it be seen, rather than not, and as I said, if you are so insecure about it… keep it in your closet.
That’s Art in the Social Media World according to James Stewart. Social Media’s got his back, and if you’re an artist who likes posting work on the Internet, James will be there ready to carve it up and do with it what ever he wants to. You may recall the last time I asked someone to remove altered editorial cartoons. He took his time, but I think in the end he learned his lesson. Thing is, we never got to know the actual name behind the Twitter account.
But we know who James (not the actor) Stewart is! According to his Linkedin page he’s into Marketing and Advertising, and used to be a newspaper guy working at the two big dailies in Saskatchewan, the page goes into great blah blah blah about how things didn’t go right. He now sells vehicles online (yeah, I know, not so green) using his vast knowledge of advertising. His summary reads, “Now to retire comfortably, but always open to advice, new ideas, and possibilities.” It seems his new ideas today involve managing a host of Facebook pages. In his own words they included “Free Energy, RBE, Occupy, Liberty, Canadian Truth and more.” Canadian Truth News Eh, is the page I came across my altered cartoon. I’ve been since blocked from viewing the page, but it’s filled with an abundance of left leaning, environmental content, plus a lot of usual anti Harper stuff that there’s no shortage of on social media.
If you’ve got nothing better to do with your time, why not visit James Stewart on his many Facebook Pages. Surely you’ll find quite a range of Canadian offerings he’s decided look better reworded his way instead of what editorial cartoonists originally had in place. Editorial Cartoonists can report their defaced artwork, such as the examples shown below, to Facebook admin. And don’t forget to thank James (Teflon Jim) Stewart, not the famous one but the man with a hat, who calls himself, in his own words “someone who does stuff unselfishly for humanity…”
Updates (September 24, 2015, 12 hours after complaint made) on James Stewart’s refusal to remove intellectual property. This email letter to me from Facebook admin:
Thanks for bringing this matter to our attention. We removed or disabled access to the content you reported for violating the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. We understand this action to resolve your intellectual property issue.
This is a no-reply email. If you’d like to report something else, or if you don’t believe this action resolved your issue, please fill out this form:
If you have any additional questions, please visit the Intellectual Property section of our Help Center:
The Facebook Team
(October 1, 2015) James Stewart might want to think again about returning to his habit of reposting altered intellectual property. Artists are going beyond the sort of shame tactics one sees above that is the precursor to having their work forcefully removed by social media admin. Stubborn, bullheaded behaviour like that exercised by James Stewart is being dealt with in the legal courts. While having images quietly removed from Facebook users pages might not school copyright pirates, I’m pretty sure if people are having to reach into their bank accounts to cover damages a lesson will learned the costly way.
By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday July 25, 2015
The illustration on today’s front page of the Hamilton Spectator began mid-week with a vision explained to me by Saturday editor Cheryl Stepan as a graphic to promote a fireworks display marking the end to the 2015 Pan Am Games. Art Director, John Bullock, further envisioned the fireworks being let off by Pachi, the Pan Am mascot from a barge in Hamilton Harbour. The shape of the illustration was measured out which resembled a big letter T allowing for text on either side of the rocket smoke streams. A difference of opinion emerged on what to do with the background. I insisted on a black sky background, and John argued that it would be too difficult to read white text on black especially on newsprint. To me there was no sense putting fireworks on a white background. So when I finished drawing the firework bursts and rocket lighting Pachi on the barge I supplied a version with a white sky and another with a grey gradient transitioning from white to black. Side by side it made better sense to editors to go with the black sky version, and working with it John came up with the idea to lay the entire masthead atop the fireworks and voila, the resulting A1 illustration.
Spectator front page (July 25)
Graeme Mackay’s front page illustration was ingenious!
As a longtime subscriber to The Hamilton Spectator, I daily look for his brilliance in depicting current news, whether political or social. With keen insight and imagination, he often weaves humour with reality.
TO2015’s mascot, PACHI, is so lovable, one of the best ever in Olympic or Pan American Games. Daily, this spirited raccoon greets me as I open my refrigerator door.
And to include him with the spectacular fireworks accompanied by Boris Brott’s orchestra – how wonderful. Kudos to Graeme Mackay and Boris Brott, both local professionals.
Merle Baird-Kerr, Burlington
N. Winslow, Beamsville
M. Ronney, Hamilton
The Cartoon in Tuesday’s Spectator portraying Pope Benedict in an unflattering way was in my opinion, unfair and disrespectful to a Pope who has served his Church and the world well. I cannot understand what the Spectator thought they would achieve by printing that cartoon. Pope Benedict deserves better. My first reaction was to say “enough is enough”…time to cancel my subscription to the Spectator, and to encourage many others to do the same.
Why Sir did you and your colleagues permit this cartoon to appear?
Michael Ronney, Hamilton