Above: celebrating New Years the staff of Hammercab, from left to right: Sammy Singh, Bev, Edward (aka Edgar), and Eddie Wight, a.k.a. Whitey
Speaking of past cartoon strips I have drawn, here's a more recent strip that ran between 1999 and 2003. Gridlock featured 5 characters who worked at a fictitious local taxi company called Hammercab. Like Alas and Alack, Gridlock's creation came about through a partnership, with me as illustrator, and Spec colleague Wade Hemsworth who wrote the scripts. On its first day of printing, on July 3, 1999, editor-in-chief Kirk LaPointe introduced it this way,
"We are one of the few papers anywhere to attempt such a portrait of its communities. Our belief is that our region offers great source material. We can afford to laugh at ourselves without getting mean-spirited, and Gridlock is one way we'll share a chuckle at our plight...The aim is to keep the cartoon current. Whatever afflicts or infects the region, positively and otherwise, will make its way into Gridlock. But there will be time and room for general musing, too."
Since it was born over the Canada Day weekend, we commemorated each anniversary of Gridlock with a song as shown above and below.
The strip went through an evolution of different shapes and frequency. In the beginning it was a three or four panel black & white strip published 3 times a week. Then, it moved to the front page, became colour, and took on a rectangular gag cartoon shape. We can actually blame 9/11 for removing it from the front page, when the Spectator higher uppers felt it wasn't the right time to put humour on the cover. After 9/11 Gridlock took on the large multiple panel strip shape you see from the examples.
The above cartoon features me as the customer being rushed to the hospital for the birth of my first daughter, Gillian. It's a favourite of mine since it ran around the time she was actually born -- now Gillian's approaching her sixth birthday.
The above cartoon was also one of the last Gridlock strips. Since creating the strip was a freelance gig requiring several hours outside work to illustrate, I found it a bit frustrating to draw. I'm not too fond of drawing cars, and the composition of the strips relied on templates with some photoshop tweaking here and there. It became creatively limiting working within the confines of scripts and I found, as an editorial cartoonist with solitary instincts, quite bored with Gridlock.
When plans were made to trim the alloted space we were used to getting it was decided to unceremoniously end Gridlock for good. There were no tears, no replacement, no letters from the public.
Looking back though, I'm discovering appreciation for the old strip. Many remain timeless. Others remind us of people and politicians who are no longer around. Some other favourites of mine which feature every day things and special guests:
The 407 ETR
The Peregrin Falcon
Pope John Paul II
Of course you can always check out more on the old Gridlock website.