• Carmen Marie Fabio

StoryFest kicks off with arrival of Aislin


PHOTO COURTESY TERRY MOSHER

Aislin (Terry Mosher) speaking at the recent IdeaCity conference on the topic Explaining Canada Through the Eyes of Many.

The world woke up to a harsh reality this past January with news of the assassination of 11 cartoonists at the famed French Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine over its perceived blasphemous portrayal of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and then witnessed the subsequent international backlash as demands for the publication increased by a hundredfold. Such is the power of a political cartoon and one of, if not the best-known Canadian political cartoonist, Terry Mosher - also known as ‘Aislin’ editorial cartoonist for the Montreal Gazette and author/illustrator of 47 books - will open Hudson’s pre-StoryFest event Monday, June 15 by discussing the history of cartooning, some of his own work spanning almost 50 years and, in his words, boasting about the quality of cartooning in Canada.

“Cartooning is still very much part of the political equation here,” said Mosher of Montreal’s six daily-newspaper political cartoonists compared to only one working daily cartoonist in the much larger metropolis of Los Angeles. “People realize the power of a cartoon – a good one. All over Quebec, people are very political. If you go elsewhere, it just doesn’t happen.” Mosher usually prepares for his day by reading - besides The Gazette - The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Toronto Star, La Presse, and even Le Journal de Montréal, “for the outrageous stuff.”

He also consumes radio and some television, and still religiously picks up hard copies of The New Yorker and describes the Sunday New York Times as “a holding paper.” Mosher laments the definition of ‘news’ as having been stretched as more entertainment and sports garner ever more media coverage. “In terms of our general lives, it’s far more important to know what a cabinet minister is dealing with than how the Habs did against the Penguins last night,” he said. “It concerns me that there’s less and less care about what happens in Ottawa, particularly with this revolting government we have right now that’s hardly operating under what we consider to be decent Canadian standards.”

Despite having feet – and heart – firmly rooted in paper, Mosher has embraced modern technology, both for how good the cartoons look onscreen and the immediately accessible platform. He’s adapted his output to the realities of today’s demand for instant information with his cartoons often appearing online up to 24 hours before the paper is published.

“People want it now,” he said, describing the cartoon’s dissemination process that includes Facebook and Twitter. “Readers are getting the cartoon as the discussion is going on.”

Mosher’s creations typically begin around 4:30 a.m. as he scours a number of online news sources to get an idea of what’s going on and where to focus his pen – or mouse. His style has evolved from pen and ink cross-hatching, honed when newspapers were incapable of reproducing subtle shading, to much of today’s work created directly on an iPad.

“It’s important to me to keep interested and keep curious,” he said, “so I like to surprise people with different styles, like photo manipulations or a combination of many styles. It keeps readers interested.” Mosher’s work is still finding new audiences as his extensive archives of historical work provides context for topics that, besides the recent death of Jacques Parizeau, includes a retrospective on Mordecai Richler with the recent stage production of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

“Political cartooning in Canada is the longest-lasting form of humour. And I don’t see it going away, I just see it changing delivery and style, but pungent humour is very important to Canadians.” Mosher’s current Gazette contract will have him producing three cartoons a week with fellow cartoonist Pascal contributing two more. “You can’t teach Montreal to anybody. You can’t bring in a cartoonist from Pittsburgh and have them draw a Montreal cartoon.”

Following his speaking gig in Hudson and his ongoing Gazette appearances, Mosher will be drawing the posters for – and appearing at - Comic-Con in Montreal July 3, 4 and 5 at Booth 3318.

Mosher’s Hudson talk takes place at St. James’ Church Hall, 642 Main Road, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Refreshments and a book signing will follow his presentation. Tickets are $20 and are available at Pure Art, 422 Main Road, or by calling Greenwood at (450) 458-5396 or at the door.

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