By Amanda Tuzi
Canadian newspapers will soon have a new character dominating their editorial pages.
Some political cartoonists are saying farewell to drawing Stephen Harper on a regular basis. Some are welcoming the change to the new prime minister-designate, Justin Trudeau.
Other cartoonists — not so much.
“It’s going to be a refreshing change. Trudeau comes across as much younger and much more engaging and charismatic so that’ll be a whole new way to portray a prime minister,” said Steve Nease, a freelance political cartoonist.
With Harper holding title of prime minister for almost ten years, artists have had a range of content and characteristics to base their cartoons on, including his personality.
“I think most people’s cartoons of Harper tended to reflect that he was quite private and controlling and a one-man party more so than any other prime minister I can remember,” said Nease whose work appears in more than 50 newspapers across the country.
“I feel that I’ve been really lucky to come into my own in the past few years when Harper was prime minister. I think he helped a lot,” said Theo Moudakis, political cartoonist for the Toronto Star.
“He helped me become a good cartoonist, frankly.”
Cartoon drawings have portrayed the good, the bad and, some might say, the ugly of Harper’s personality and physique – and cartoonists truly tried to capture his essence.
“Kind of surly, kind of humorless, a little pudgy — he makes for a great character,” said Moudakis.
Trudeau’s post-election popularity has left some cartoonists upset at the lack of subject matter to draw from.
“He kind of spoiled all the fun, he took away my favourite punching bag. What could you do with Trudeau when everybody’s in love with him?” said Moudakis.
“He hasn’t done anything wrong. He hasn’t done anything wrong throughout the whole campaign. And, he’s hardly done anything wrong within the past two years since he joined the Liberal party,” he said.
“It’s going to be tough and we’re going to wait him out and when he messes up I’ll be all over him.”
Other artists are just happy to have something new to draw on.
“I think cartoonists in general will be very kind to him, after a decade of Harper he’s going to be a welcome change and I think people will cut him some slack for the first while anyway,” said Nease.