The press cartoon, dead in battle?

There is only one woman among the leaders of the political parties in Quebec who are fighting to win the elections on October 3. And, in the daily newspapers of Quebec, no woman caricaturist to draw it.

It is that the profession of daily political cartoonist is, in Quebec, a profession still confined to aging men, generally white, notes Mira Falardeau, designer and author of several books on the subject.

“I am very worried about the next generation of the profession,” she says. The trade is represented by old gentlemen of the boy club, without feminization, although there have been many attempts. The profession is in danger,” she said.

In English Canada, only one woman, Sue Dewar, holds the torch of the profession, and she was born in 1949.

“The lack of succession corresponds to a depoliticization of young people,” says Mira Falardeau.

The whole thing also testifies to the general decline of the profession of caricaturist, even more marked in English Canada and the United States. In 2019, the New York Times decided not to publish any more cartoons, after a drawing showing Trump walking Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on a leash caused an uproar. In the same year, cartoonist Michael de Adder lost his job at Braunschweig News. According to him, his dismissal is linked to the publication of another cartoon of Donald Trump.

Both in English Canada and in the United States, press organs most often resort to « syndicates », these agencies which represent individual cartoonists and sell their cartoons throughout the world. The process has the effect of eliminating regional or local political representation.


In Quebec, very recently, a caricature of Boris, alias Jacques Goldstyn, in Montreal Gazette, which shows an old lady whose dog pees on a portrait of René Lévesque, was condemned by the leader of the Parti Québécois. Beyond the rise of milk from Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the caricature of Boris aroused many criticisms, in particular because a significant part of the public did not understand it. For Mira Falardeau, this cartoon, which could be interpreted in both directions, either for or against the Quebec nationalism of René Lévesque, simply should not have been published by Montreal Gazette. “A cartoon cannot say two things at once,” she says.

On the Web, the circulation of caricatures favors a reading of the works out of context. In a newspaper, readers have probably read articles setting the context of the drawing, specifies Garnotte, alias Michel Garneau, former cartoonist of the To have to.

Caricature has, however, accompanied the history of Quebec since its very beginnings. The first cartoonist to have touched Quebec soil would be George Townshend, a British brigadier general who conquered New France alongside Wolfe in 1759, and who used to draw the latter, his boss, when Wolfe inspected the toilets.

“Quebec caricaturists,” writes Mira Falardeau in her History of caricature in Quebec, are the synthesis between the two great founding schools of world caricature, French and English, as one might expect. In terms of drawing, English caricaturists tend to exaggerate shapes, a nose, a body or a face, while French caricaturists traditionally draw more schematically.

Profession badly affected

Over the past decade, the profession of cartoonist has been cruelly hit by terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists, which have claimed the lives of eight collaborators of Charlie Hebdo who were among the greatest caricaturists of France. In 2020, Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher in a French college, was attacked and beheaded by a Russian citizen of Chechen origin after showing his students caricatures of Muhammad. Meanwhile, an Iranian cartoonist like Firoozeh Mozaffari continues to practice her art in Iran. In 2012, along with three other Iranian cartoonists, she received the International Press Cartoon Prize from the hands of Kofi Annan.

On this side of the ocean, the current of respect for the rights of minorities also affects the work of the cartoonist. Guy Badeaux, cartoonist at Rightand Michel Garneau, former cartoonist of the To have toadmit to looking for new ways to draw Aboriginal people, for example.

“If I draw them in suits and ties, how are we going to know that they are Aboriginal? asks Michel Garneau. Hence the need for the cartoonist to include elements of context, sometimes in the form of text, within the framework of the cartoon. “I have problems drawing Aboriginal people,” continues Guy Badeaux. And before, I drew Lucky Luke with a cigarette in his mouth. We had to replace the cigarette with an ear of wheat. »

Still, the situation of cartoonists remains much better in Quebec than in the other provinces of Canada. “In Quebec, we are lucky. Each newspaper wants to have its own identity,” says Guy Badeaux.

Pedagogical director at the National School of Humor, Christelle Paré believes that the next generation is full of talents with a strong bite.

“The younger generations of comedians who have come to us grew up during Maple Spring. These young people are hyper-alert in terms of social causes and climate change. […] They have a lot to say about diversity and the state of the world. »

Still, caricature is not taught at the National School of Humor. And that some observers go so far as to say that it is a mode of expression traditionally conveyed by paper newspapers which is gradually being replaced by memes. « But it’s not the same art, » says Mira Falardeau.

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