A cartoon I drew for the very day the World Health Organization declared the infection spread of COVID-19 global pandemic on March 11, 2020, has gone through a series of modifications and additions. Two tsunamis perilously heading towards a city symbolizing Canada with waves representing COVID-19 and recession, were soon joined by bigger scares including Climate Change and Biodiversity Collapse. The evolution has been fuelled by the thoughtfulness of people from around the world who have either suggested modifications on social media or sketched in new waves with my attention included. It illustrates important discussions on serious issues confronting humanity and the chronological changes has made this illustration my most shared image ever.
But, like so many images cartoonists offered up to the Internet, dark forces are at the ready armed with design software to butcher artists work and memes-ify them to serve their appetites for likes and retweets. Just as egregious to discover signed cartoons reworded to suit partisan stances effectively turning satire into propaganda, is the removal of monikers and the extraction of intellectual property. We learn as children not to do this when we hand in assignments for school and that we should always source words borrowed from others. Why is it when theft of imagery that’s turned into memes is taken so passively?
Tiger Sugar was not given permission readapt the messaging
Along comes a post on Instagram where an account run under the banner of a big international bubble tea chain called Tiger Sugar used this image to promote franchise expansion. A glance through the account shows an endless scroll of not so witty memes mixed with photos of their swirly brown syrup concoctions aimed at a younger smart phone addicted set. A message was left under the post requesting removal of the altered image. As of the time of this writing the post remains and thereby grants Tiger Sugar bestowal of recognition into the pantheon of intellectual property thieves, better known as the Social Media Jackasses.
Click to enlarge this unsightly meme
In researching this company one came across this unfortunate meme portraying it as one which serves effluent to its customers. How rude! To suggest this is where Tiger Sugar extracts its syrup is outrageous! Shame on whomever used imagery from this company without authorization to sully its messaging with such obvious contempt to use and discredit a popular brand. Ridiculous!
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 21, 2020
As second wave of coronavirus hits, get your flu shot, health officials advise
Some local pharmacies got flu vaccines for seniors and those with compromised immune systems last week and expect a full shipment of the seasonal shot later this week.
September 10, 2020
London pharmacists that CBC News spoke to Tuesday said many people were already inquiring about getting their flu shot as case numbers of COVID-19 continue to soar provincially and health authorities warn of a “twin-demic” that could overwhelm the health care system.
“Even if you haven’t ever gotten your flu shot, even if you haven’t gotten it in the last 10 years, this is the year to do it,” said pharmacist Nauman Shaikh, who owns the MedPoint Care pharmacy in CitiPlaza.
The province is rolling out what it’s calling the largest flu vaccine campaign in Ontario history, with more than 5 million flu vaccine doses ordered, 700,000 more than last year, officials said.
“This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions,” the province said.
April 11, 2019
Many of those were shipped to pharmacies last week. Shaikh got 40 doses on Tuesday and they were gone by Thursday.
And although people are calling pharmacies and asking for the flu shot, Shaikh said most pharmacies will get theirs on Thursday and Friday.
“I think there will be enough dosages for everyone, so don’t panic. There will be enough,” he said.
Some pharmacies are asking customers to make appointments for flu shots, because maintaining distance between walk-in customers can be tricky.
Shaikh will be wearing full personal protective gear when he gives the vaccine, and his pharmacy is using an extra room to ensure there is a lot of space.
The province said it is prioritizing early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes, and has spent an additional $26.5 million to purchase extra flu vaccine doses if required and made available through the national vaccine bulk procurement program.
Ontario is also launching a public education campaign to encourage getting the flu shot. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 1, 2020
Ontario’s 2nd wave of COVID-19 forecast to peak in October
Fresh projections suggest that Ontario’s second wave of COVID-19 will peak in mid- to late October and will likely send enough patients to intensive care that hospitals will need to scale back non-emergency surgeries.
September 22, 2020
The forecasts come from the COVID-19 Modelling Collaborative, a joint effort of scientists and physicians from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital.
Based on how quickly Ontario’s infection rate has been rising in recent weeks, the model projects the province is on track to exceed 1,000 new cases per day by the middle of October, unless stricter public health measures slow the accelerating spread.
The average number of new cases reported daily in Ontario is currently running four times higher than what it was at the end of August. Premier Doug Ford’s government has since shrunk limits on the size of private gatherings, reduced opening hours for bars and ordered strip clubs to close.
On Monday, Ontario reported an additional 700 cases of COVID-19, the most on a single day since the outbreak began in late January. The figure surpasses the previous high of 640 from April 24.
May 29, 2020
On Sunday, Ontario’s Ministry of Health reported 112 patients in hospital with a confirmed case of COVID-19, nearly triple the number of two weeks ago. The research team says the impact of the second wave on Ontario’s hospitals will depend on the demographics of who gets infected in the coming weeks.
The team of researchers has run four scenarios for how Ontario’s second wave could play out from here.
The best-case scenario would mimic Ontario’s first wave in March and April, when case numbers increased rapidly but were then reined in by a lockdown.
Two moderate scenarios would resemble how a second wave hit jurisdictions comparable to Ontario: the Australian state of Victoria (home to Melbourne, a city of five million), and the U.S. state of Michigan.
None of those three scenarios shows COVID-19 patients filling Ontario’s hospital wards or ICUs beyond their capacity. That happens only in the modellers’ worst-case scenario: a second wave as severe as the first wave that hit Italy when the pandemic began.
However, in all but the best-case scenario, the researchers foresee ICU demand that exceeds the capacity required for patients undergoing scheduled surgeries. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 11, 2020
Economic Prescription for Coronavirus: ‘You’ve Got to Go Fast’
The government can’t prevent the coronavirus from damaging the U.S. Economy.
February 28, 2020
The usual tools that economic policymakers rely on, like tax cuts and stimulus spending, won’t restore canceled conferences, unclog supply chains or persuade wary consumers to go out to bars and restaurants. Even if such policies would help, they conflict with the advice of health officials who are urging “social distancing” to slow the spread of the virus.
But that doesn’t mean policymakers are powerless. Economists say well-designed programs could limit the damage and help ensure a quick rebound.
President Trump said Monday that he would meet with congressional leaders to discuss a “very substantial” payroll tax cut and other measures. Many economists are skeptical of that approach, arguing that a payroll tax cut would be too small and too poorly targeted to be of much help.
June 28, 2018
Instead, they recommended a variety of other steps, some narrowly aimed at addressing the outbreak and some intended to bolster the broader economy. One lesson from the last recession is that the government has to move quickly.
“You’ve got to go big, and you’ve got to go fast,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff member who is now director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a left-leaning research organization. “If you don’t go fast, you’re not going to short-circuit it.”
Here are some forms that such intervention could take: 1) Fight the disease. 2) Cushion the blow. 3) Stimulate the broader economy. 4) What about payroll taxes? (Continued: NYTimes)
CHRONOLOGY OF A CARTOON GONE VIRAL
This particular editorial cartoon has gone through several modifications than the original one published above on March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The original double wave cartoon received attention around the world and was modified, rather crudely, with adaptations made to my Canada flag, and translations squeezed in to replace my English “be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” Some of the changes were done fairly well. Some of the people behind the alterations took the time to ask for permission to do so, and preserved my moniker, while others did not.
Nettuno 1958 – 5 aprile 2020
Here’s a version drawn with credit for audiences in Mexico. Found on Twitter on account @adn40 and shared March 25, 2020:
Another adaptation done for audiences in France. Website called, Acheter en Espagne: Le meilleur site sur l’immobilier en Espagne pour la clientиle francophone.
If only I got a penny for everywhere this cartoon landed I’d be rich!
Possibly my most shared, cropped, and altered cartoon ever.
A crude repurposed image showing a third wave, with my moniker cropped out, appeared in wide circulation on various social media platforms in May, 2020. It appears someone with some knowledge of image editing software duplicated the recession wave, added a third wave by colouring it rather fluorescent green and replacing the wording to climate change. In doing so unfortunately, my signature, or moniker as cartoonists call it, was deleted out. It was on its way to being meme-ified – unsourced and unsigned, the bane of editorial cartooning. I believe the flag in the above example is Argentina’s.
Meanwhile, a hemisphere over in the UK, someone revised the Argentinian version, and replaced the label recession with “Brexit”. Look closely and one will note the Union Jack flies atop the Palace of Westminster! Credit goes to Twitter account RRI Tools for pointing this out in June, 2020 with this tweet.
I thought these ideas behind modification were pretty good ones, but the crop jobs weren’t so great, and the flag of Argentina only caused confusion on an idea that could work for anyone around the world. So it was then that I decided to remove the flag and create an authorized version bearing my signature. Here it is:
Originally drawn for March 11, 2020. Revised May 23, 2020.
But it seems someone else in another corner of the planet, Ricardo Hurtubia, a teacher from Santiago, Chile, had added a third wave as early as April 4! Good on him for keeping my moniker in there. News to me by the time July rolled around:
con mis fantásticas habilidades para Power Point, he logrado esta obra de arte luego de un día entero de trabajo
(broma ?, pero el mensaje de fondo va en serio?) pic.twitter.com/qPrmSaneRy
In September, 2020, this beautiful hand drawn rendering was flagged by someone in Venezuela on Twitter. This is an example of the old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Thank you Alejandro!
Not long after the above tweet was posted, an anonymous twitter account holder going by the name of Cilantrófago, posted a re-adapted image in Spanish that cleaned up Mr. Hurtubia’s, somewhat, adding a 4th wave. His major failing, however, is chopping out my moniker, and unfortunately, for Cilantrófago, he or she qualifies as a Social Media Jackass.
In mid June, I was included in a tweet sent out by David Obura, a director of Cordio, East Africa, a marine ecosystem consultancy based in Mombasa, Kenya. He’s also a scientist with the Earth Commission. A 4th wave had been added as a further warning regarding the effects of climate change on the world’s ecology. He isn’t actually the person who added the “biodiversity collapse”, but liked what he saw and sent it out. The re-adapted version is quite a good one, with a thought provoking message, the lettering is close enough to my own, and the image retains my moniker. Thumbs up, but I would like to know who the person is behind the re-adaptation.
The readapted readapted version of the cartoon became the centre piece of a demonstration with a Samba Band on Paignton Promenade (in Torbay, Devon, England) Sunday afternoon, August 30, 2020 with the “Four Waves Banner” shown below and paraded by the Green Spirits group:
In April 2023, the banner lead a parade and was carried to Parliament Square in front of Westminster Palace in London during a weekend of massive protests called “the Big One” on the climate crisis.
Organizers of another protest march in the UK wished to use the same image in public. An artist acquaintance of the environmental organization leader kindly asked if it was okay for him to design his own commissioned rendering of the image on wood measuring 8 by 4 feet. Happy to help a fellow artist on the other side of the planet the nod was given (though, as always, the artist deserved more compensation.)
Tweet from Nov 10. 2021
Then it ended up along the banks of the River Clyde during the gathering of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. This tweet informed me of it’s location on Nov. 10, 2021.
Enchanted by the passion of the Green Spirits, and after receiving more licensing permission to use the 4 waves, I decided to update the cartoon to include the biodiversity collapse wave. The caption bubble was also enlarged, and my moniker was placed in the top corner.
Dr. Madhu Pai, MD and McGill University Professor and Canada Research Chair of Epidemiology & Global Health convinced me to tweak the illustration a bit to advance his concerns of conditions such as TB, HIV, malaria, maternal health, etc. that have become worse due to COVID-19 and lockdowns.
As of Autumn 2020, according to google image search, there are more than 1680 posts of these variations across the Internet on various social media platforms and websites.
Finally and noteworthy is an overriding subject going beyond the pandemic, Healthcare distress, the economy, Brexit, Climate Change, war …the end of the world, it’s the chronology of this cartoon as a meme.
“There’s a difference between using a familiar symbol and copying someone else’s cartoon, and, while some asked for permission and credited him, others did not. It’s a common experience for cartoonists in this Ctl-C, Ctl-V world, and MacKay’s analysis is excellent.”
Who knows how much, from Finland, Svante Suominen’s effort using the illustration to promote #SavePondHockey helped his cause which he asked in a Twitter exchange, our group fights “climate change by organizing outdoor hockey tournaments and donating the profits to climate campaigns / action. We’d love to use a quickly hacked image that is based on your idea and design work as a featured image in our blog. Would that be OK for you?” He was given clearance to do so, merely for having the decency to ask.
Like so many images cartoonists offered up to the Internet, dark forces are at the ready armed with design software to butcher artists work and memes-ify them to serve their appetites for likes and retweets. Just as egregious to discover signed cartoons reworded to suit partisan stances effectively turning satire into propaganda, is the removal of monikers and the extraction of intellectual property. We learn as children not to do this when we hand in assignments for school and that we should always source words borrowed from others. Why is it when theft of imagery that’s turned into memes is taken so passively?
On April 27 2021, a supportive follower made me aware of a new adaptation with the logo of Extinction Rebellion attached to it. The new image shows a different rendering of the waves with a couple of labels changed. Extinction Rebellion is a global environmental movement that has its roots in the UK and has captured the attention in recent months for huge non-violent rallies and civil disobedience against governments not doing enough to fight climate change and prevent the inevitable ecological extinction. It has been very successful in raising awareness and is influencing similar movements around the world. It is, however, not without criticism, with charges of being extremist, classist, and short-sighted with regards to diversity. In 2019, eight ER protesters made fools of themselves when they took their demonstration to the London Underground and disrupted an evening commute for thousands of transit users by unfurling a banner on the roof of a subway car. Respect for the work of artists seems to be another one of Extinction Rebellion’s shortcomings. It is ironic indeed that an organization called Extinction Rebellion has made my connection to my own design extinct with this:
Over a number of years, responding to people responsible for repurposing creative content has revealed interesting personality characteristics. Most people will realize they’ve done wrong, remove the vandalized content, and apologize.
Junked up nonsense found on Twitter. Zero likes, zero retweets, zero idea.
Some won’t respond at all. Others will reply, and dig in their heels with claims that it’s some kind of human right to screen grab someone’s work online, alter it, and repost it as they deem fit. What compels people to modify visual work may be a genuine expression of support adding ones own thought to a message. Well meaning perhaps, as in the case of the DIY art restorer who, in 2012, decided to fix Ecce Homo, a fresco painted by Elías García Martínez in a church in Borja, Spain, but who was roundly condemned and mocked for the results. Or, it may just be a narcissist’s lack of thoughtfulness by co-opting imagery to communicate a message unrelated to the intent of the creator of the image. Several of the worst cases have been called out as the Social Media Jackasses for their bad behaviour.
Along comes a post on Instagram where an account run under the banner of a big international bubble tea chain called Tiger Sugar used the image below to promote franchise expansion. A glance through the account shows an endless scroll of not so witty memes mixed with photos of their swirly brown syrup concoctions aimed at a younger smart phone addicted set. A message was left under the post requesting removal of the altered image. As of the time of this writing the post remains and thereby grants Tiger Sugar bestowal of recognition into the pantheon of intellectual property thieves.
Tiger Sugar was not given permission readapt the messaging
Noted is this eerily similar looking version found on this page on a site called EcoMatcher. They aren’t based in any particular country but whether the renderer knew it or not, that’s pretty much exactly what I drew in the very first version (posted at the top of this page) to represent Canada, from the rockies in the west to the Toronto skyline in the east. Seems the readapters of the image had a pretty good idea of the original cartoon’s chronology. It bears a striking resemblance to Svante’s rendering above.
Finally, From GreenMoveID, an environmental organization in Indonesia that shared this modification in November, 2020. For non-English speaking countries it’s important to get the message out, and frankly this rendering is beautifully done, and good for them for the credit:
If we all let our guard down, it could be that the Covid-19 Pandemic is actually the opening before a bigger disaster comes. The government must think further ahead in making policies to tackle this pandemic. GreenMoveID (Indonesia) posted this on Nov. 9, 2020, @greenmoveid acknowledging mackaycartoons illustration for inspiration
Another unique perspective by a Warsaw based organization called Social Simulations.
Waves, boulders, impending doom, stock photo.
In December 2023, I shared a panel with Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake City Tribune, and Rod Emmerson of the New Zealand Tribune for an episode of Daryl Cagle’s podcast on the subject of editorial cartooning Climate Change. In my selection of cartoons I highlighted my odyssey with this cartoon here:
The authorized version of the 4 Waves cartoon is available on a wide range of ethically sourced apparel and products through the MacKaycartoons Online Boutique.
Authorized for sale by Graeme MacKay through this link.
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 5, 2017
Canada now has more seniors than children, census reveals
For the first time in history, the percentage of seniors in the population (16.9 per cent) now exceeds the share of children (16.6 per cent), new census data reveals.
February 24, 2012
The increase in the proportion of seniors between 2011 and 2016—up from 14.8 per cent – is the largest since 1871, Statistics Canada said Wednesday as it took the wraps off the latest information gleaned from the 2016 census.
“This gap will continue to increase in the future, so basically we can say that there is no coming back. It’s long-lasting change,” said Laurent Martel, director of the demography division at Statistics Canada.
The statistics agency cites two factors for the changing demographics. The baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1965 – are getting older. As well, increasing life expectancy combined with low fertility rates since the 1970s means seniors are an increasing proportion of Canada’s population.
Martel notes that other baby boomers are approaching retirement – the proportion of people between 55 and 64 reached a record high of 21 per cent in 2016 – meaning that an aging population will be the story of Canada’s population for decades to come.
“We know that other cohorts of boomers will follow in the coming years, meaning that population aging will remain fairly fast until 2031, when the last boomers will reach 65,” Martel said in an interview.
By 2061, these patterns will mean there could mean that Canada has 12 million seniors and fewer than 8 million children.
Still, Canada is the young kid on the block – Canada had a lower proportion of seniors than any other G7 country except the United States.
And the share of people aged 15 to 64 – 23.4 million Canadians, about 66.5 per cent of the total population, down from 68.5 per cent in 2011 – was also higher in Canada than in other countries. That means Canada still has a large working-age population, even though the growth rate in this age bracket between 2011 and 2016 is the lowest recorded between two censuses since 1851. (Toronto Star)