Within hours after an anti-Trump cartoon proved popular on social media, its creator, Michael de Adder, was released from his freelance contract with Canada’s Brunswick News company.
The timing of the news – which de Adder shared on his Facebook and Twitter accounts over the weekend – raised eyebrows within the editorial cartooning community. But the Brunswick News said Sunday in a statement that its cancellation of de Adder’s contract was not because of the President Donald Trump cartoon, but rather follows weeks of negotiations over bringing back another cartoonist, “reader favourite” Greg Perry.
“It is entirely incorrect” to attribute the decision to de Adder’s viral immigration cartoon, said the Brunswick News, calling that a “false narrative” that spread “carelessly and recklessly on social media.”
In the cartoon, which de Adder tweeted Wednesday, Trump has pulled his golf cart up to two drowned bodies and asks, “Do you mind if I play through?” His image references the widely circulated photo of father Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and daughter Angie Valeria, who died crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico to Texas.
— David Hamer (@DavidHamer_1951) June 30, 2019
“They can stand behind their statement, but it is clear with the last few cartoons that (de Adder) . . . was revisiting Trump after taking a break” from criticizing the U.S. president, said Wes Tyrell, president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists. “Maybe these were the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Tyrell told The Washington Post on Sunday that the timing was not coincidental, and that Trump was a taboo subject for cartoon satire at the Brunswick News. But the left-leaning de Adder “is getting a reputation in Canada as the guy who takes on Trump,” Tyrell said.
De Adder, who is based in Halifax and grew up in New Brunswick, announced the Brunswick News’ decision on Twitter on Friday. (He did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment.) The company noted in its statement that it was “not even offered” the immigration cartoon.
De Adder’s work prominently appears in Toronto and Halifax newspapers, Tyrell noted. His freelance cartoons will stop appearing in several key papers owned by Brunswick News, to which he had contributed for 17 years.
“He’s done hundreds of Trump cartoons,” Tyrell told The Post, “but none has run in these (Brunswick) papers” that represent de Adder’s native province, where he still has family, the cartoonist tweeted.
The immigration cartoon went viral after celebrities such as George Takei and Mark Hamill noted it on social media.
News of de Adder’s canceled contract comes shortly after The New York Times ended its contracts with two political cartoonists, including longtime contributor Patrick Chappatte, whose work appeared in The Times’ international edition. The Times’ announcement followed controversy and an apology from the publisher for an overseas cartoon mocking Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last year, Rob Rogers was fired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after a quarter-century at the paper, immediately after editors killed at least 18 of his cartoons and cartoon ideas. All the spiked work was critical of Trump or issues closely connected to his administration.
In April, Rogers was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for editorial cartooning.