It’s never a good sign when you have to explain a joke but maybe some of you don’t read French or keep up with Quebec politics so here goes nothing.
This comic, drawn by frequent Rover collaborator Amanda Di Genova, refers to an ill-advised tweet by Premier François Legault not long after Quebec announced 96 new Covid deaths in a single day.
Get it? It’s funny because society is collapsing!
I don’t begrudge the premier his reading time but it feels like we have bigger fish to fry these days. And by fish, I mean a two-year-old pandemic that’s killed over 12,000 Quebecers and still seems to catch this government by surprise at every turn.
So we went with the whole Rome is burning gag. I hope you like it. We published in French because readers have been asking for French content. And since I respect them too much to expose the poor devils to my written French, we thought a comic might be concise enough to work.
I once tried to pitch an idea to legendary Gazette cartoonist Aislin during one of his visits to the newsroom. He sat there mortified as I gesticulated like a kid who’d eaten too many trucker pills.
“Hey Terry, what about a comic where it’s the editor in chief of a newspaper rounding up the employees and saying, ‘Don’t worry about this social media fad, people will always come to our website for the news.’
“And then, in the next panel, it’s the 1960s and an editor in chief is telling their reporters, ‘Don’t worry about television news fad, people will always reach for their evening paper!’
“And you keep going back until it’s a room full of medieval monks transcribing the Bible by hand and their boss is like, ‘Don’t worry about this printing press fad, people will always reach for their handwritten Bible!’”
Aislin stared blankly at me.
“How much coffee have you had, kid?”
Aislin — whose real name is Terry Mosher — was one of the last in a generation of Gazette rabble rousers who doubled as celebrities but, unlike some of his contemporaries, he was really nice to young reporters who had no business pitching their drug-addled ideas.
Occasionally, he would tell me about comics that didn’t make the cut because they were too weird. My favourite was the time the Canadiens went on a horrible losing streak and were about to visit sick children in the hospital, as per their annual holiday tradition.
“My idea was, ‘Sick kids visit Canadiens to cheer them up.’ And maybe you’d have a kid hooked to some machine, patting Tomas Plekanec on the back.”
It was Aislin at his finest: subversive, uncomfortable and to the point.
He was a man-about-town who ran with fellow newspaper junkie Nick Auf der Maur and held court in the notorious Grumpy’s bar — a basement haunt frequented by the writers and radicals of anglo Montreal (yes, we have radicals). The 80s in Quebec journalism were an era of excess, where Mosher — furious over a rejected cartoon — once broke into his boss’ office, opened a window and emptied the contents of his desk drawer onto St-Jacques Street. But he could get away with that because Aislin was and remains an institution.
Terry’s calmed down and he doesn’t drink anymore but he’s still got a wonderfully mischievous heart. He always took a moment to stop by my desk for a chat when he’d stop by the office or send me a note when I wrote something he enjoyed.
Where were we?
Ah yes, comics. Unless this is a spectacular failure, we’ll probably keep publishing the occasional strip. For now, Amanda and I kick a few ideas around and try to capture the irreverent spirit of cartoonists like Matt Groening and Gary Larson but also lesser known artists like Walter Scott and Laura Park.
So please feel free to give us your feedback, even if you read the comic and want to take a paper bag full dog poop, light it on our porches, knock on the door and run away.
This was great! I liked the backgrounder as well, especially mentioning local legend Aislin, who was such a huge part of the joy of reading the Gazette every morning when I was younger (I'm dating myself here). And Di Genova's work is impressive, definitely looking forward to future installments.
Loved this too - do you know of Michael de Adder? Not a local guy but pretty brilliant.
Legault et al never miss an opportunity to show how out of touch they are, while looking for empathy...it's a gift.