Car­toon­ist con­trib­u­tor gets to meet his hero

The Victoria Standard - - Arts - ANDREW BROOKS

If you ask a kid who their cartoon su­per­hero is, you’re likely to get ‘Su­per­man’, ‘Iron­man’ or a sim­i­lar char­ac­ter with un­par­al­leled strengths. Grow­ing up in Bad­deck, Josh Kaiser was drawn to a dif­fer­ent sort of idol. His hero took a ‘pen is might­ier than the sword’ ap­proach as he fell politi­cians and celebri­ties with a sin­gle stroke (or two) of ink. As an as­pir­ing il­lus­tra­tor, Josh’s hero was, and still is, Bruce Mackin­non, the award­win­ning car­toon­ist for The Chron­i­cle Her­ald.

Un­like most fans, Kaiser re­cently had the chance to not only meet his hero, but dis­cuss the art of il­lus­tra­tion over din­ner. A close friend of Kaiser vol­un­teers for the Chisholm Ser­vices for Chil­dren char­ity which holds an an­nual “Blind Date with a Star” fundraiser in Hal­i­fax. Through a se­ries of for­tunes, Kaiser won the chance to have din­ner with Mackin­non, along with sev­eral other at­ten­dees of the event.

“I was sit­ting at the other end of the ta­ble, so I didn’t get a chance to talk with him di­rectly at first. Then there was an open­ing and I mo­nop­o­lized him for the next 45 min­utes. Just a class guy. You cer­tainly didn’t feel like he was wait­ing to get out of there.”

Kaiser says the ta­ble talked a lot with him about how to balance satire with sen­si­tiv­ity when a topic is con­tro­ver­sial. The two then ze­roed in on the tech­ni­cal as­pects of il­lus­tra­tion, dis­cussing pa­per types, wa­ter­colours and which pens they use.

Just how in­flu­en­tial has the car­toon­ist been for Kaiser, who now lives and works in Hal­i­fax?

“I’ve fol­lowed him for years. I pick up the Her­ald and the first thing I do is flip to the edi­to­rial and look for his cartoon. As a kid, it [the cartoon] re­ally helped de­velop my own abil­ity. I would save all his car­toons and copy them. I would sit at home and draw a Bruce Mackin­non, but turn it into a comic book char­ac­ter, essen­tially steal­ing his style.”

Al­though Kaiser says he is still de­vel­op­ing his own style, he says laugh­ingly that his artis­tic in­flu­ences have been a mix of Monet and Bruce Mackin­non.

“I al­ways liked the im­pres­sion­ist ap­proach. When you look at it closely, it’s just a mess. But when you pull back, it all comes to­gether and you get a beau­ti­ful im­age. His was a dif­fer­ent style but the same prin­ci­ple as a Monet.”

Mackin­non him­self started his draw­ing ca­reer early when he be­gan con­tribut­ing a weekly cartoon to Antigo­nish town and county news­pa­per, The Cas­ket. Mackin­non has been the reg­u­lar po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ist for the Her­ald for 31 years. In that time, he has col­lected nu­mer­ous awards, in­clud­ing 18 At­lantic Jour­nal­ism Awards, 6 Na­tional News­pa­per Awards, the World Press Free­dom Award (2014), the Or­der of Nova Sco­tia (2011) and the Or­der of Canada (2016).

Kaiser says Mackin­non looked through his port­fo­lio and was ex­tremely com­pli­men­tary, not­ing the breadth of medi­ums that he has been will­ing to ex­plore. As the evening came to a close, the two ex­changed con­tacts and the cartoon gi­ant with the long red cape told the as­pir­ing Kaiser to stay in touch.

Edi­to­rial cartoon con­trib­u­tor to The Vic­to­ria Stan­dard Josh Kaiser poses with his long­time idol, award-win­ning Hal­i­fax Her­ald car­toon­ist Bruce Mackin­non.

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