September 23rd 1968  (Age 53)

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Random Thots is brought to you by Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist at the Hamilton Spectator, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Website:

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Still recovering after Denver

It has been a slow return to editorial cartooning since I got back from the annual convention of the AAEC (Association of American Editorial Cartoonists). I've noticed the added links I've posted alongside my "MacKay is Away" notice has resulted in higher multiple page viewings by visitors. It's making me wonder whether or not to retain these links and post even briefer texts to help put some context to my daily cartoons. Added to that, I'm not too pleased with my first cartoon since getting back from the convention.

Anyway, this year's host was Denver, Colorado, a hot western city situated where the barren plains meet the snow capped peaks of the rocky mountains. Aside from it being a big venue for all kinds of sports, skiing, football, baseball, hockey, and basketball, it's also known for it being the home of Coors, a powdered tasting fizzy drink which is considered similar to beer. Actually, Denver is less known as the home to many micro breweries offering delicious ales, pilsners, and lagers. It's very popular mayor is a brewery owner himself.

A sizeable showing of beer swilling Canadians showed up for the convention. It's always nice to attend these American conventions as it gives a great opportunity to get to know the veterans even better. Despite living only 4 hours from Mike Graston of the Windsor Star, it took a convention a couple thousand miles away to be the setting for our first face to face meeting. It was great to finally meet him, a cartoonist whose work I've been appreciating and following since I was a teenager.

Apart from the bar chatter that goes early into the wee hours of each morning, the AAEC gathering provides a great slate of panels and Q & A sessions. I was looking forward to a talk on the Danish Cartoon Controversy but found that little new could be added to a topic that has really been talked to death. Representatives from Muslim, Jewish and Christian groups lectured us on what we can and can't draw, raising the temperatures of some of the attendees but not enough to inspire a good shout down by raucous editorial cartoonists. Religious leaders will always complain about pointed cartoonists, and cartoonists will continue to poke religious leaders.

There was a talk on editorial cartoon presence on the Internet that appealed to my interest. While I've pretty much been running my website for close to 10 years the advent of the blog has only recently made its way into the cartoon world. Before I got to Denver I had no clue just how many editorial cartoonists run blogs like this. From what I hear, more and more are on their way. The great thing about the Internet is the greater freedom which allows us to show off our edgier stuff, to be a more forthright in what we have to say, and to answer to our critics. (Who I wish would give me more feedback through this thing.)

I'd say the most inspiring panel I tuned into was one explaining the process of how cartoonist's create their cartoons. Nick Anderson, Clay Bennett, Matt Davies, and Steve Sack each gave very informative presentations on how they do their daily cartoons. I found the all-around-nice-guy Clay Bennett and Steve Sack to have the most similar process to what I do with heavy reliance on Photoshop to achieve the final product. Steve Sack, who I got to know a bit better over dinner last Thursday night, wowed the audience with the best Flash animated clip I've ever seen. His oil paint stylized cartoons are the most cutting edge cartoons in the U.S.A. right now, and I expect there'll be a lot of copy cats who'll emulate his style in the not too distant future.

Finally, a big hooray goes out to my friend and Denver tour mate Mike deAdder from the Halifax Daily News who took home the annual AAEC golden spike award. It celebrates those whose cartoons were killed by antsy editors. It's the first time a Canadian has ever won the recognition.

See more on the convention here....

Posted at 10:34 am by Graeme_MacKay


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