Funny and Moody: The Best of Aislin's Cartoons
Terry Mosher, Jean-Herman Guay, Université de Sherbrooke and Bruno Lemieux, Collège de Sherbrooke



Public service announcement. The McCord Museum wishes to inform visitors to this site that it shall in no way be held liable for any rage, indignation, uncontrollable fits of laughter or any other adrenaline rushes that may be set off by the cartoons of artist Terry Mosher, better known by his pen name, Aislin. We would also like to note that the drawings selected by the artist have already been published in English-language Montreal newspapers over the course of the past 30 years. We hope that the discovery or rediscovery of these gems will foster interest in our recent history.

Political cartoons -- the realm of metaphor, of immediate media -- can be so dead-on and so funny that they strike their victim like a thunderbolt, sometimes provoking intense reactions. They often include a caricature (from the Latin caricare, meaning "to load") of a well-known personality. With a stroke of the pen, the choice of details, the cartoonist reveals or exaggerates certain ridiculous or unpleasant traits. The purpose of the resulting comic or satiric distortion is not to make the subject look ugly or deformed, but to highlight the essence of the message, to focus on a less attractive side of reality. As the French sociologist Gaston Bouthoul has said: "Nothing resembles anything more than its caricature."

Abrasive, grating, hard-hitting -- a political cartoon presents a merciless perspective on current affairs. Sometimes harsh, sometimes silly, almost always irreverent, a cartoon takes us beyond the event. It prompts us to reflect on our failings and our values, our culture and our vision. A cartoonist does not get bogged down in subtleties and that is why the drawing packs more of a punch! In short, a cartoon disturbs us by making us think.

True iconoclasts, masters of the cutting stroke -- "praises" abound for those whose sometimes wicked humour shakes up politicians on a daily basis. The delinquent of the editorial team and a walking nightmare for our ruling class, Aislin, like his French-speaking opposite number, Serge Chapleau, is undoubtedly one of the most prolific cartoonists of the last 30 years. He thrives on the news, he's got a sharp eye and he's got an even sharper pen!