{Roy Peterson} ~ RIP

The editorial cartoonists of Canada and indeed the world mourn the passing of one of the true greats, Roy Peterson.

His list of achievements speaks volumes: winner of the National Newspaper Award an unprecedented seven times [more than any other cartoonist in Canada], the Grand Prize at the International Salon of Caricature in 1973, and  in 2004, he received the Order of Canada.

The awards give a strong indication of his lasting legacy and importance but it is not just the 'result' but also the manner in which he conducted his career that was equally inspiring.

Editorial cartoons are, perhaps, the most temporal of art forms.  They appeared, until recently at least, in newspapers renowned for poor reproduction on a porous fragile surface with a shelf life no longer sometimes than the day they appeared and destined in some instances to line bird cages or wrap fish.  Some practitioners, realizing this fact, wisely opted for a simple, formulaic style.  Not so Roy.  He spared no expense in staging his 'dramas' with sophisticated camera angles, lighting, expression, and typography.  Each cartoon demonstrates his facility in drawing but also an enviable mindset: a love of work; a love of craftsmanship; a dedication to both.  Again, it is the manner in which he conducted his career that impresses and perhaps stands as his longest lasting legacy for me than the awards.

On a personal note, I will forever be indebted to the kindnesses both he and his dear wife Margaret offered me on those occasions, usually at conventions, when we had the opportunity to meet.  I will never forget the day I opened my copy of Witty World in the Summer of 1993, to read their interview with Roy Peterson. Usually in these interviews, the spotlight remains firmly on the artist and their work, but there was Roy Peterson discussing his heroes and influences, Ronald Searle, Duncan Macpherson, and Harvey Kurtzman.  But Roy also took the opportunity to highlight another artist, much less celebrated, whom he felt was destined for the 'top':

"There are a couple of guys that could go to the top. But you could never guess.  There are young guys that don't have a name yet. In Canada, there's a young cartoonist named Freddy Sebastian in Ottawa.  His artwork is evolving."  thanks to you, Roy, it did indeed. 


  1. That's beautiful, Freddy. You are a most articulate cartoonist. Thanks for the story. -Bruce

  2. Well said, Fred. You nailed it, "a love of work; a love of craftsmanship; a dedication to both". In one of the obits I read it said he sometimes spent two or three days on a drawing. A relief to read. I thought he'd miraculously spun them off in a day. They were, all of them, works of art -- worth looking at again and again in years to come.

    1. thanks Alan. it really was impressive how he kept his standard up so high through all those years as politicians and issues came and went [and worse, sometimes repeated!] But there was Roy painstakingly devoting all his energies to these drawings. Inspirational. Maybe why all of us felt so disappointed at his newspaper's decision to unceremoniously drop him. He certainly gave them service above and beyond.


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