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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Highway 99 traffic flows under 24 Avenue in South Surrey Monday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
A cyclist crosses above Highway 99 on 24 Avenue Monday afternoon, Oct. 19. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Liberals promise new freeway interchanges for South Surrey

NDP candidate taking pre-election announcement ‘with heavy grain of salt’

A past extreme weather response shelter set up for women inside Surrey’s Nightshift Street Ministries. (Photo: Chris Paul/nightshiftministries.org)
Homeless people in Surrey face ‘shocking and scary’ scenario this winter

Last winter there were nine Extreme Weather Response shelters in all of Surrey and White Rock. So far, during this pandemic, there are only five lined up for the coming winter

File photo
Surrey Mounties seeking dash-cam footage of Whalley road rage fight

Two men are alleged to have stabbed one another

Surrey RCMP say a 30-year-old man was arrested and later charged following a traffic stop in Whalley. (Phil McLachlan photo)
Surrey RCMP say man charged after using allegedly stolen ID in traffic stop

Police say they found ‘stolen credit card data, lock picks, demagnetization devices’

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

Working smoothly together on May 11, 2020, health minister Adrian Dix, B.C. Liberal health critic Norm Letnick, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and sign language interpreter Nigel Howard. (B.C. government video)
COVID-19 co-operation a casualty of B.C.’s pandemic election

NDP’s Horgan weaponizes senior care, B.C. Liberal Wilkinson calls for ‘wartime economy’

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Rick Hansen Secondary School student died in hospital after suffering a medical incident in class on Monday. (File photo)
Abbotsford student dies after medical incident in class

Rick Hansen Secondary School offering additional counselling for students who require it

Investigators work at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek. - Image credit: Observer file photo.
Sex workers allegedly called to farm of Okanagan man convicted of assault, RCMP investigating

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

(Black Press Media files)
Early voters more likely to favour NDP, but overall B.C. election is tightening: poll

According to Elections BC, 383,477 people cast a ballot during advanced voting days

Most Read