________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 23 . . . . February 14, 2014


dePictions: Editorial Cartoons.

Michael de Adder.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2013.
92 pp., pbk. & pdf, $21.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77108-089-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77108-090-3 (pdf).

Subject Headings:
Editorial cartoons-Canada.
Canadian wit and humor, Pictorial (English).
Comic books, strips, etc.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

*** /4



When a cartoonist has a bad day, everybody knows it. The cartoon isn't funny or doesn't work. It's like being a field goal kicker on the football team. Everybody knows when you miss. But on the other hand, everybody knows when you split the uprights. You're the hero or the bum. And some days you're both.

Michael de Adder is an award-winning freelance cartoonist based in Halifax, NS. His current clients include the Halifax-Chronicle Herald, Toronto Star, and the Ottawa Hill Times. His work is syndicated throughout North America by Artizans.com. Budding high school cartoonists and their teachers will appreciate de Adder's biographical introduction wherein he traces his career from his days in art school when he discovered that his cartoons could reach the masses unlike his paintings and other art work that may be seen by relatively few people who attend art galleries. His early days freelancing for newspapers taught him the basics of telling a story in one or more panels, "how to be funny using timing, and how to stay on deadline."

internal art      dePictions contains 136 of de Adder's favourite editorial cartoons drawn between 2008 and 2013. A previous volume collected a selection of his editorial cartoons published up to 2007. The works are grouped in five sections by geographical focus. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are represented by 17 cartoons each while Toronto is represented by 16 cartoons. Not surprisingly, many of the Toronto images feature the city's infamous mayor who is a gift to cartoonists and TV comedians alike. These three sections are largely filled with full-page, full-colour reproductions with two or even three comics occupying a few pages. In contrast, the final and largest two sections focussing on Canada and the World, represented by 60 and 26 images respectively, often contain three cartoons per page.

      Bruce MacKinnon, the editorial cartoonist for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald wrote the foreword in which he records the skills of successful cartoonists: humour, drawing and caricature skills, creativity, and an ability to react quickly to breaking news stories. Readers will find many of these traits embodied in the cartoons in this volume. The cartoons are identified by the date originally published and the name of the newspaper or magazine that ran the image. Two-thirds of the cartoons include a very brief explanatory comment in addition to the date. This will be useful in helping current and future readers appreciate the context in which the editorial cartoons were created. Similarly, they help readers in different parts of the country appreciate news items in other parts of the country depicted that may not have received local coverage.

      With the growing importance of visual literacy, graphic and visual arts are regaining attention in school and university curricula. Students interested in politics and social history will be fans of this work since this editorial cartoonist, like his peers, focuses much of his attention upon political figures and their foibles. Few of de Adder's cartoons will cause one to laugh out loud, but many will bring a smile of recognition and appreciation. Buy this work for the final cartoon alone, a sombre piece from December 12, 2012 that makes a powerful statement about American [gun] Culture.


Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON, and an avid reader of newspaper comics and editorial cartoons.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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