As I enjoy some time off, this week marks the 25 year milestone since officially beginning my role on July 7, 1997, as staff editorial cartoonist at The Hamilton Spectator. Previous to then my illustrations regularly appeared on a freelance basis in this paper as well as several other newspapers and magazines across Canada and the United States. I had been editorial cartoonist for the chain of Hamilton area community newspapers known as Brabant, and I got my first start as a published cartoonist as a student at The Fulcrum, while attending the University of Ottawa in the late 1980s and early 90s. Visitors here will know thousands of my cartoons can be mined in searches from this very website. Upon being hired 6000 editorial cartoons or so ago, the Internet was in its infancy, so while all of my cartoons many be found after 2000, ones before then have been added years after they originally appeared in print. Thoughts of putting together a print catalogue book going back several decades are always swirling in the background as a possibility of happening until they aren’t. So until then, folks will just have to settle for nostalgic MacKay cartoons from tablet glass through my vast archives instead of paperback. So many cartoons from the biggest characters from the past quarter century…
If anyone does know if a winner was declared please contact the Association of Canadian Cartoonists.
But here is the plaque presented to Graeme MacKay, who won… second place… (noted on the badge in the top left hand corner.)
The Encyclopedia of Canadian Animation, Cartooning and Illustration states following awards granted in 1994 and 1995, “there appear to have been no further awards given.”
The short lived award was of good intent but became mired in organizational conflict and was discontinued.
Posted to macKaycartoons.net in June 2021 to mark the 25th anniversary of the mystery.
I spend quite a bit of time reviewing work from people who want to see their artistic skills put to print. Often, they’re those with a knack for drawing and have proven themselves to be good artists. Some of them actually aspire to draw editorial cartoons and have banked up a number of examples over a period of time proving a genuine passion. The portfolios they let me peek into may or may not be good, but at least they have an idea of what editorial cartooning is about.
Others, however, approach me on how to get their work printed after proving themselves not only to have little experience in editorial cartooning, but really not having much exposure to newspapers in general. Oh, yes their email attachments of landscape paintings and charcoal renderings of celebrities from 10 years ago indicates a firm interest in art, but how does it relate to editorial cartooning?
My response to many is often in the same tone as the one I sent recently below. It received no reply, no thanks for my time, just crickets – which is standard. But rather than let it vaporize into the emailsphere I thought I share it here, and maybe others will take something from it:
Dear aspiring editorial cartoonist,
It’s great that you’re trying your hand at editorial cartooning. Satire is a wonderful way of blending one’s artistic skill with a rant about something and getting a response that provokes laughter, scorn, or a bit of both.
I see by your attached samples that you are someone who has taken quite a bit of time illustrating. The landscape paintings, and illustrations of fruit baskets and pencil sketches prove that you’re someone with an artistic passion. If you’re like me, you’ll know that with every successful creation are 1 to 10 others that were abandoned or crumpled up and sent to the bin. Like painting, editorial cartooning requires a lot of practice and crumpled up pieces of paper. You should see my attempt at painting – lots of unfinished canvasses and others with the quality of paint-by-numbers pieces.
In terms of editorial cartooning, I think, based on the one editorial cartoon sent, that if you really want to get mass print publicity, you need to practice more, loosen up your rigid lines, perfect your lettering, establish a style, and explore technology that allows cartoonists to quickly colour their work beyond using pencil crayons. What editors want to see are bodies of work by prospective freelancers that confirms consistency and experienced quality.
I would also suggest using websites like Pinterest.com, Deviantart.com, and toonpool.com to peruse the works of others and places to post your own work for easy upload, display, and comparison. Share your work on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I looked at your website and each of your email attachments, but the tendency I’ve come to realize is that many editors don’t bother taking the few moments to examine website content or attachments. The aforementioned sites are way more convenient and are also a great way to invite constructive criticism, but it means embracing online activity which I know can be repulsive for some.
As for being bounced around the newsroom from person to person trying to get attention, it’s the unfortunate nature of this industry beast. The people you’ve already emailed to are higher up editors with their fingers on many buttons – illustration is not really one of the buttons. The Entertainment & Life editor also controls many buttons, and one of them is deciding on the odd commission piece that appears in their section. Again, as I stated in my previous email to you, there’s not much of a budget for paying illustrators, which has turned off a lot of artists, hence the tendency for editors is to avoid humiliating artists by paying little and choosing to run stock photos/illustrations instead. Also, the turn around time for completing work is so short that it’s too much of a challenge for too little in return, and that’s not only from the view of the artist, but the editor as well.
I wish I could give you more positive advice. As a guy with no buttons to press except readers’ reaction, I’d love to see more illustrations in the paper, and more women drawing editorial cartoons. All I can offer are suggestions for anyone aspiring to get their work published is to practice, promote and persist at getting attention.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday January 8, 2014
12 dead, shooters on the run, after ‘terror’ attack at Paris newspaper
A French police official says 12 people are dead in a shooting at a satirical weekly newspaper in central Paris and the attackers are still at large.
Four more people are in critical condition and an additional 20 have been injured, police said.
Two of the dead are police officers. French media reported the weekly’s chief editor and other staff were among the dead.
Paris has been put on the highest state of alert for a terrorist attack.
“France is in a state of shock,” French President Francois Hollande said at the scene of Wednesday’s shooting at Charlie Hebdo.
“Journalists and police were killed,” Holland said.
Hollande called it “a terrorist attack, there is no doubt. We must show we are a country united.”
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported the satirical cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier and two others cartoonists were dead.
The French newspaper Le Monde also quoted several police sources as saying Charbonnier, who is also direction of publication, and cartoonist Riss were among the dead.
A few minutes before the shooting, Charlie Hebdo’s Twitter account published a Charbonnier cartoon that said, “Best wishes, to al-Baghdadi also,” a reference to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who is called the leader of the violent terrorist group Islamic State.
Charlie Hebdo’s cover this week is on Submission, a book by Michel Houellebecq released Wednesday, which is sparking controversy with its depiction of a fictional France of the future led by an Islamic party and a Muslim president who bans women from the workplace.
The attackers are on the run, Holland said. He said all potential terrorist targets have been put under the highest protection, adding that several possible attacks have been foiled in recent weeks.
From Washington, London, Brussels and Rome, leaders condemned the attack.
Most of the victims were part of the magazine’s newsroom, Matthieu Lamarre, a spokesman for the Paris Mayor’s office, said.
The solidarity slogan “Je suis Charlie” was quickly trending on Twitter.
The satirical weekly has drawn repeated threats for its caricatures of the Prophett Mohammed, among other controversial sketches. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday December 14, 2012
Watch out: Police have an eye in the sky
It almost looks like a toy. But in the hands of trained Halton Regional police officers it’s an increasingly useful tool.
The four arms of the mini helicopter buzz like a really big house fly as they spin and the Aeryon Scout takes off outside police headquarters in Oakville. Soon it is high above the parking lot, “watching” Detective Dave Banks and Constable Andy Olesen, two of the four Halton officers trained to operate it from a tablet on the ground.
The unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly called a drone, has been a tool for Halton police on more than 30 missions ranging from photographing crime scenes to using a thermal imaging camera to search for missing persons.
It was used in September to seize 744 marijuana plants growing in a farmer’s field in northeast Milton. It was also used to photograph Burlington’s deadly Via derailment and the fatal Oakville police shooting of Kyle Newman, a short time after he stabbed his estranged wife.
Police are starting use the vehicle to photograph serious crash scenes, including an ongoing research project to see if they can take measurements from the sky to speed up investigations. They also want to begin using the drone in “tactical” situations, for instance if a suspect is on roof or balcony.
In August, Ontario’s privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian issued a 27-page paper on privacy and drones in which she warned that without careful consideration they “may be extremely invasive.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)