Thursday, April 5, 2012

40 Years of Aislin


2012 marks the 40th anniversary that  Aislin cartoons have graced The Gazette's editorial pages.
Click on the photos tab above to see a gallery of Aislin's 40 favourite cartoons.

Over the past 40 years, I’ve drawn some 10,000 cartoons for The Gazette.

Most of those drawings – the better ones, anyway – are now housed at Montreal’s McCord Museum. I imagine historians eventually puzzling over my collection of doodles, given the captivating events and personalities I’ve had to deal with – from Jean Drapeau through Gérald Tremblay and everything else in between. I’ve drawn on René Lévesque and Quebec nationalism, Pierre Trudeau and the ROC, the 1976 Olympics, Jacques Parizeau and two referendums, Jean Chrétien and the sponsorship scandal, the wars and foibles of our American neighbours, Montreal street life and, of course, the Habs and Expos. If I had to choose my all-time favourite politicians to caricature, it would be a toss-up between Brian Mulroney and former Quebec language minister, Louise Beaudoin.

Several thousand people have come and gone at The Gazette in my time here. I have benefitted greatly from the experience and talent of many of those co-workers, never mind forming a number of life-long friendships, In fact, when computers first came along, an artist in the advertising department by the name of Mary Hughson kindly helped to sort out Photoshop for me. She still does. Mary became the love of my life and we’ve been married for 12 years now.

Denis Harvey was the first in a very long line of (mostly) excellent editors and publishers I’ve worked for – primarily because they pretty much left me alone to do what it is that I do. Most of those editors have moved on – but not me. That’s probably because on the day that Denis Harvey hired me at The Gazoo (as I once christened it in a cartoon), I was given the only job I ever wanted – with no interest in any other.

Stil, editors are not always the go-to people at a newspaper. In the early days, photo editor George Cree was my main mentor around The Gazette. He told me that if I had to find someone, or needed counsel, or an advance, or even bail money, you never called an editor – you called Millie Thompson, our legendary head telephone operator at that time. Sadly, Millie is gone – but the tradition carries on with her daughter, June Thompson, our current newsroom administrator. When I really have to find someone, or need some counsel, or an advance, or even have to sign a new contract, I call June. Thankfully, there is no longer any need for bail money.

When I first started at The Gazette in April of 1972, the newspaper was worried about its very survival. And what else is new? But I’m still here – and Gazette readers are stuck with me for a while yet. Even though I will be turning 70 next November, I’ve just signed a new three-year contract. However, over the next few years, you’ll be seeing a little less of me on the editorial page, and a little more by my friend and colleague, Pascal Élie, who has turned into a top-notch cartoonist during the last 10 years as a freelancer for The Gazette.

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