Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mad Bear

Carrying on with the Aislin retrospective at City Hall from October, our relationship with Americans can be seen in the top left cartoon featuring Paul Martin, a former Prime Minister, while the bottom left cartoon with President Obama is one of my personal favourites. Those at the right feature another former prime minister, Brian Mulroney, who was a frequent target for many editorial cartoonists here during his time in office. That chin alone could keep you occupied.

Two Canadian giants closely tied to Montreal feature in the top pair- Mordecai Richler and Leonard Cohen. On the bottom, the left cartoon was a favourite for Pierre Trudeau, while the right one features the great Oscar Peterson, who often could play the piano in a way that sounded like he had to have more than ten fingers.

Here's Pierre himself in a Time cover Aislin did early in Trudeau's time as Prime Minister.

Another personal favourite of mine plays off an incident that actually happened: Prime Minister Jean Chretien strangling a protester. In this case, it's Joe Clark, one of the opposition party leaders (and a former PM himself) getting strangled. I've seen both men on occasion here in Ottawa; Chretien could still strangle someone even all these years later.

This dates back to around the time of Peter Jackson's King Kong film, and pretty much sums up how we Canadians sometimes feel about our neighbours. Pierre Trudeau noted that being next door to America was like trying to sleep next to an elephant. A giant ape will do just as well. 

This is one of Aislin's iconic works, featuring Rene Levesque and Robert Bourassa, done after Levesque's separatist Parti Quebecois won a majority provincial election over Bourassa's Liberals.

A close up of two of his hockey toons. Occasionally Montreal has a bad year, but not with anywhere near as much regularity as the Toronto Maple Leafs- a fact that fans of every other Canadian team relish. The success of Canadian women on the ice is an inspiration.

This is another of his collage works, done for the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

This shot features a cartoon Aislin did of Pope John Paul II after he assumed the papacy. The photograph below it features the pope being presented with the toon itself during a visit.

I like this pair. The top features the eternal struggle of Quebec society, while the bottom one is downright universal to anyone who's ever dealt with traffic delays.

The weather, particularly in winter, is a wonderful subject for the cartoonist, such as with these two. The top one came out of the aftermath of the notorious 1998 Ice Storm, while the second one went unpublished in the papers, but has proven popular online.

Arguably the most loathsome, unfit for office politician (which made him priceless material for editorial cartoonists) ever to appear in Canada was the late crack smoking drunken thug Rob Ford, a former mayor of Toronto (is it obvious I didn't like him?). This is an Aislin take on him.

I finish with this one, which was featured for an article on the Canadian Rockies. The bear's expression is just perfect.


  1. I like the cartoons! The bear sure looks mad!

  2. I don't remember Trudeau's teeth like that. Time to go back and look.


  3. Haha! I do remember your fondness for Rob Ford William 😁

  4. i think i counted 7 fingers. i gotta go count again. that is hard 2 see. lol! ( ;

  5. @Lady Fi: they are.

    @Kay: indeed!

    @Marleen: I agree.

    @Nancy: he does!

    @Tom: definitely!

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Janis: exaggeration is everything!

    @Grace: Rob Ford dying brought a smile to my face. I despised the man, perhaps never more so than when he and his scumbag brother tried using cancer for political sympathy votes.

    @Beth: Oscar was the best!

  6. Hello, great collection of cartoons. The bear at the end is my favorite. Thanks for sharing. Have a happy day and week ahead.

  7. Brilliant cartoons, very good !

  8. I think my favorite is the Oscar Peterson one but, I do love the King Kong one too and I can totally understand it. I like the Obama one too except those damn turkey's are now running things. That's the scary part.

  9. Aislin was a master at his art.

  10. @Eileen: thank you!

    @Karl: they are indeed.

    @Cloudia: you're welcome.

    @Sharon: unfortunately that's true!

    @Red: and still is! One of his recent ones after the Montreal mayor's election features the new mayor Valerie Plante in the look of Wonder Woman.

  11. Although I don't understand them all, these are all wonderful cartoons.

  12. Great post!
    I think, sadly, social media has somewhat put political cartoons aside.

  13. Talk about art for thought! There's so much to see and reflect on in these cartoons. Great fun but with a serious side, too.

  14. These are brilliant! Such an acerbic wit!

  15. An equal opportunity skewerer. :-)

  16. What great fun this post is! Thanks, William!

  17. @Jan: in some cases, it depends on your comprehension of the English (or French) languages. In others, Montreal municipal politics, for instance, aren't going to transfer internationally. There were some with previous Montreal mayors that would require previous knowledge of the politics. I still should have photographed the one he had with the last mayor, Denis Coderre, who he portrayed as a glasses wearing Fred Flintstone.

    @Maywyn: it depends on the artist, but there are fewer editorial cartoonists, it seems, now than there were twenty years ago.

    @Lowell: I find some of the best editorial cartoons are the ones that aren't funny, but dead serious.

    @Christine: he has a lot of that!

    @Revrunner: definitely!

    @RedPat: you're welcome.

    @Norma: very angry!

  18. This is a great post William, lots of humour!

  19. What an amazing collection this is ...

    All the best Jan

  20. Good series. I enlarged your photos. Very funny cartoons.