Political cartoonist Michael deAdder (‘91) can’t remember a time when he didn’t draw. The Moncton, NB native said he was obsessed with it from a very early age and drew his first cartoon in the seventh grade.
Passionate about painting, deAdder moved to Halifax to pursue his dream of being a painter. While freelancing his cartoons to newspapers, he painted six big canvases. Most of which, he says, he hated.
“I thought more people would see my cartoons than would go to an art show. Cartooning seemed like my thing and affecting change — at least the feeling that you’re affecting change — was my thing.”
deAdder began making a name for himself by drawing cartoons for The Coast and then The Chronicle Herald. He spent eight years at the now defunct Daily News. For the past three years he has been working for New Brunswick Publishing, where his work appears daily in the Moncton Times & Transcript and Fredericton’s Daily Gleaner, and freelancing for Metro Canada, which appears in most majour Canadian cities. Weekly he draws approximately 10 cartoons and, at over a million readers per day, he is considered the most read cartoonist in Canada.
He says political cartooning consists of three things: political knowledge, humour, and lastly, drawing. And, in some cases, humour is more important than political knowledge.
“Cartooning is all about drawing analogies,” he says.
Recently he drew a Mount Allison cartoon that was inspired by an old Sackville favourite, Mel’s Tearoom, and Mount Allison’s consistent first place showing in the annual Maclean’s University Rankings. The line read, “Some things never change.”
With a political landscape that is always changing, deAdder has different subjects to draw all the time.
“It’s always heartbreaking when someone leaves politics. You mourn not being able to draw them again.”
His current favourites to draw are Prime Minister Stephen Harper and New Brunwick’s Premier David Alward. Over the years he has enjoyed drawing former Prime Minister Paul Martin and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna.
“Most of the people I draw go into it semi-attractive people. But they come out the other end just mangled,” he jokes.
With more than 6,000 cartoons drawn in his career so far, deAdder says he has about ten favourites and two he would probably take back because of misunderstandings.
“Sometimes they hit the mark and I can’t explain why. Most of them fall, like plunk, and nobody hears.”
He is a five time Atlantic Journalism award winner for his innovation and editorial cartoons. He has also been recognized with the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists Golden Spike Award.
deAdder hopes to continue cartooning for years to come, in the face of the ever-changing newspaper market, and also has ambitious plans to venture into other artistic endeavours.