By special request from my pal, Jeff Norwell, here are some gorgeous examples of Duncan MacPherson's early work for MacLean's magazine.
I hadn't really intended to include MacPherson in this week's series because I don't consider him a "forgotten cartoonist"...
His entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia tells us MacPherson was "regarded as having been one of Canada's best political cartoonists, Macpherson received the ORDER OF CANADA, the Royal Academy Medal, The CANADA COUNCIL's Molson Prize and six National Newspaper awards for his work at the Toronto Star."
I have wanted to show you these beautiful drawings by MacPherson (so reminiscent of the work of one of my favourite illustrators, Robert McCloskey) for a very long time. So Jeff's request gives me an excuse to do that this week.
And though MacPherson is probably not forgotten by Canadians, I suspect this tremendously talented cartoonist is unknown by readers from other countries.
What might be forgotten is some of the interesting techniques the young MacPherson experimented with in his early days...
... before settling into the more typical inked line style that one expects to see from an editorial cartoonist. Here's an early example of what would eventually become his well known intricately detailed ink drawing.
As this brief note from 1951 mentions, MacPherson burst on the scene at Maclean's right out of art college - but the then 27-year-old artist had been working professionally for several years while simultaneously attending school.
Sharing MacPherson's designation as an editorial cartoonist (as well as being a fellow regular contributor to MacLean's) - but far more likely to qualify as "forgotten" - is Bert Grassik.
Grassick's work had a very direct, energetic quality that I think will be much appreciated by my fellow "ink studs" - his lines look like he attacked the page with gusto! Grassick had an admirable ability to say a lot with relatively little in the way of finicky detail.
This kind of 'visual shorthand' is sometimes dismissed as simple or easy... but it takes tremendous skill and understanding of both your subject matter and your drawing equipment to do what Bert Grassick did. He managed to make it look effortless.
"Charles Albert Grassick was born in 1909 in Victoria, B.C. and soon after moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba where he grew up with his three brothers. When Grassik was 13, his father died, and the boy was forced to quit school and go to work to help support his family. In spite of numerous cartooning awards from the Winnipeg Tribune for his submissions it was felt that he should provide for the family while his older brother was sent to art school."
"Due to years of noisy factory work he became hearing impaired in both ears causing him to become isolated, quiet and reserved."
"At the age of 20 (1929) he hopped a freight train to Toronto to seek his fortune and was hired on first at Rabjohn Enterprises, then at Clement Saila & Co. as an illustrator."
"By the beginning of the 1950's his recognition gained him a position as the daily political cartoonist for the Toronto Telegram where he remained throughout the decade (1959). He had a short foray into the new frontier of television as the caricaturist for a game show on CBC entitled "Whozit" where a guest panel was given verbal clues while he sketched visual ones until someone guessed the right answer. However it was short lived and not to his introverted liking."
"His often award winning cartoons garnered attention from many sources including that of Mayor Nathan Phillips. He then proceeded to join the Disney team at Canaline (again with Clem Saila) where he remained until the age of 73."
"He also freelanced cartoons regularly for MacLean's Magazine and several other publications throughout his career and taught cartooning at the Ontario College of Art. Bert Grassick died in 1998 at the age of 89."
* Here I must thank my friend, Jaleen Grove, for undertaking the Herculean task of putting together The Index of Canadian Illustrators wiki . If not for Jaleen's efforts, I would have only been able to tell you the above cartoons were done by "someone named Grassik". The biographical information above is taken from Bert Grassik's entry on Jaleen's site.
Of course there were plenty of other Canadian cartoonists who we have (mostly) forgotten... but they will have to wait for another occasion. For now, we're done with this topic.