Cartoonist captures public mood following Toronto, Humboldt tragedies

Cartoonist said he was trying to find a bit of positivity with an image that has garnered attention

Halifax cartoonist Michael de Adder says he was simply trying to find a small bit of positivity with an image that has garnered national attention for its depiction of recent tragedies in Toronto and Humboldt, Sask.

The cartoon, published in the aftermath of Monday’s van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured 14, shows two boys in hockey sweaters sitting on a bench, sticks by their sides.

The boys, one wearing a green and yellow Humboldt Broncos jersey and the other wearing a blue and white Toronto Maple Leafs sweater, have their arms around one another, supportive in crisis.

“The reality is, I’m just happy to perhaps in a small way add a little bit of positivity in a very negative situation, so that’s all I’m trying to accomplish with that cartoon,” de Adder said in an interview.

De Adder, an award-winning national freelancer, is one of two Halifax cartoonists regularly garnering attention for works that appear to capture the national mood.

Bruce MacKinnon, the Halifax Chronicle Herald cartoonist for whom de Adder often substitutes, gained a similar audience for a cartoon this month following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 13.

MacKinnon said there’s no set protocol for producing work in such trying circumstances.

“There is a lot more sensitivity involved and you have to consider all the factors a lot more carefully because every nuance in the cartoon is going to be examined very carefully by the reader,” he said. “Sometimes that adds to the power of the cartoon if you get all those nuances right — if you don’t you could end up being a lightning rod for a lot of anger.”

MacKinnon’s Humboldt cartoon depicts the provinces and territories as a group of red-shirted hockey players coming to the aid of a green-shirted Saskatchewan player. The slumped player has his arms around his closest neighbours, Manitoba and Alberta, who are supporting his weight.

“The thing that stands out about the story aside from the obvious sadness … is the outpouring of compassion of Canadians,” he said of his inspiration for the drawing.

De Adder said his Toronto cartoon was the result of an evening of struggle to come up with what he thought would be an appropriate response to the tragedy.

He said he probably worked on 10 thumbnail sketches before gradually deciding he was on the right track, adding that it’s one thing to get an idea, but another to depict it.

“I knew I was going to have Humboldt consoling Toronto, but I didn’t know if I was going to do adults, or a couple, or two guys. I went with kids and it sort of worked the best.”

The cartoon was posted on de Adder’s Twitter account and has since received thousands of likes from people calling it “heartwarming” and a “beautiful tribute.”

The image was re-tweeted by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who remarked “well done @deAdder” as part of a message expressing condolences to the victims and their families and thanking first responders.

Another Twitter user said: “I am from Saskatchewan and this hit hard. Thank you for remembering our recent loss as well.”

Over the years, MacKinnon has received national and international acclaim for several of his cartoons, including one following the shooting death of army reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial in Ottawa in 2014.

That cartoon trended on Twitter and requests to use it came from media outlets like CNN, Fox News, and The Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom.

Another MacKinnon cartoon depicting the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings last fall — Uncle Sam re-assuring the NRA that “you’re safe” amid the bodies of gunshot victims — was also picked up and re-tweeted by a host of celebrities, including actors Ron Perlman and Mark Hamill.

Both Halifax cartoonists downplay the attention for work emanating from a smaller market such as Halifax.

They also say they have known each other for years, and share a friendship rather than an outright rivalry.

“We’re sort of in our own little drawing-table worlds,” said MacKinnon. “We are always trying to outdo each other and that kind of thing and that’s a healthy environment.”

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bevy of remarkable birthdays celebrated in Aldergrove

Maudie MacPherson (age 101), Vera Banner (91) and Alice Utas (95)

Pond hockey banned in public parks under updated Township bylaw

Public spaces bylaw imposes new restrictions on smoking, possession of drug paraphernalia, geocaching and more

Election 2018: Kim Richter withdraws from mayor’s race, runs for council instead

In a Facebook post, Richter announced she will seek another term on Township council

Langley trampoline gymnast off to Peru for world qualifiers

The gymnastics club is holding an open house this Saturday, Aug. 18, with free drop-in sessions.

VIDEO: Langley RCMP officer and brother lead Amazing Race Canada Heroes Edition

Courtney and Taylor Callens have become the team to beat

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Mt. Hicks fire 15% contained, continues to burn north of Agassiz

The fire, suspected to be caused by a vehicle with a flat tire, not threatening any structures

Police responding to ‘unfolding’ incident in Maple Ridge suburb

Helicopter, dog team, guns drawn and 16 police vehicles at Maple Ridge property

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

Most Read