Cur­rents

Ed­i­to­rial car­toon­ist Terry ‘Ais­lin’ Mosher re­flects on a half cen­tury of satire.

Canada's History - - CONTENTS - By Mo­riah Camp­bell

Draw­ing the line with Ais­lin. The Bren Gun Girl. Mar­ried to the past with his­tory-themed wed­dings.

With three ex­hi­bi­tions and a new book in 2017, Terry Mosher is mark­ing his fifti­eth year of ed­i­to­rial car­toon­ing with a flurry of ac­tiv­ity. Since 1967, Mosher has skew­ered the shenani­gans of Cana­dian and Que­bec so­ci­ety from his van­tage point in Mon­treal, first with the Mon­treal Star and then with the Mon­treal Gazette after 1972. Canada’s His­tory spoke re­cently with Mosher, who re­flected on his most mem­o­rable mo­ments.

Why are ed­i­to­rial car­toons im­por­tant in to­day’s me­dia?

Well, po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ing is just one form of satire, a very public one. And satire is very im­por­tant in terms of prov­ing the abil­ity of so­ci­ety to laugh at it­self.

What makes a great ed­i­to­rial cartoon?

It of­ten hinges on an event or some­thing of im­por­tance in the public mind. I think good car­toon­ing is about re­ally ques­tion­ing pow­er­ful struc­tures; there­fore a good strong cartoon is usu­ally crit­i­cal or laugh­ing at some ma­jor in­sti­tu­tion.

Are there lines that ed­i­to­rial car­toon­ists shouldn’t cross?

I don’t think of things as be­ing too risqué to touch, but I do think of things as be­ing too per­sonal to touch. For ex­am­ple, when [former Que­bec Pre­mier] Lu­cien Bouchard lost his leg to a ter­ri­ble flesh-eat­ing dis­ease, we didn’t draw any­thing on that im­me­di­ately. It was just not called for. An­other good ex­am­ple is that, if a mar­ried politi­cian is hav­ing some do­mes­tic dif­fi­culty, un­less it’s some­how af­fect­ing their per­for­mance, [it] isn’t of much in­ter­est to us.

Who has been your favourite sub­ject to draw, and why?

I would have to list at least five or six peo­ple: René Lévesque, at the be­gin­ning, who was re­ally a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter, then Jean Dra­peau, the mayor of Mon­treal, Pierre Trudeau, of course, and Brian Mul­roney. There was also a lit­tle-known politi­cian out of Que­bec, Louise Beau­doin — I had a tremen­dous time with her. She was the [provin­cial] min­is­ter of lan­guage here in the late 1990s, and she was very se­vere about the ap­pli­ca­tion of the French-only law, so I started to draw her as a dom­i­na­trix, and it caught fire. Peo­ple loved it.

Has there been any one cartoon that has re­ceived an un­usual amount of back­lash or praise?

Yes. The day after the Parti Québé­cois was elected in 1976 was the most po­lit­i­cally elec­tric day I’ve wit­nessed in Que­bec, and I’ve wit­nessed a lot of them. It was re­ally a shock to my English-lan­guage read­ers of the Gazette. Peo­ple were

ap­palled. They didn’t know what to do — a sep­a­ratist govern­ment had been sud­denly elected. It was a huge shock. So I drew a cartoon that ap­peared in the news­pa­per the day after, and I’ve had more re­ac­tion to this cartoon than any I’ve ever drawn. I had René Lévesque point out at the reader and say “O.K. Ev­ery­body take a Val­ium!”

How do politi­cians re­act to be­ing sat­i­rized?

I think the smart politi­cians un­der­stand fairly quickly that the car­toon­ist is not draw­ing for them; the car­toon­ist is draw­ing for the reader. I’ve been re­ally tough on peo­ple, like Brian Mul­roney and a whole raft of other politi­cians. But if they’re smart then they’ll re­al­ize that this is an in­di­ca­tor of how peo­ple are re­ceiv­ing them. That’s our strength. We draw for peo­ple — we don’t draw for politi­cians.

13

Left: Leonard Co­hen, Mon­treal Star,

June 21, 1969.

Right: O.K. Ev­ery­body take a Val­ium!, Mon­treal Gazette, Novem­ber 16, 1976.

Be­low: Justin Trudeau, Zoomer mag­a­zine, De­cem­ber 2016.

Bot­tom right: Mount Royal Cross, Mon­treal Gazette, March 13, 2008.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.