Terry Mosher, better known via his pen name of Aislin, is recognized as perhaps one of the greatest political cartoonists of all time. He’s been in the business for a remarkable 50 years, 45 of those with The Gazette.
So it is most appropriate to see the downtown McCord Museum present Aislin: 50 Years of Cartoons. This retrospective of his most remarkable caricatures over five decades is a real treat to view. I was especially lucky to be among those in his company as he walked us through the hall where the exhibition stands.
Aislin is nothing less than brilliant. If you don’t know that by seeing his drawings, well then listen to him Friday mornings on CJAD with Andrew Carter. He turns 75 next year and says that will signal his semi-retirement, translating into perhaps only one caricature a week for The Gazette as possible successors fight it out for his position. I asked him whether he might want to take a run at politics next fall, since he has spent so many years lampooning Prime Ministers, Premiers and Mayors alike. He said he will pass on that suggestion. Ditto for my next suggestion; that he try stand up comedy. Well, here’s a message to Just for Laughs Festival boss Bruce Hills. Why not jump on the Aislin bandwagon this summer and work in a program at the McCord?
Aislin has a thick skin and he does not worry about people getting angry at him. He was lethal against the late Jean Drapeau, who as mayor said the Montreal Summer Olympic Games of 1976 could no more lose money than a man could get pregnant. Well we know what a financial disaster Drapeau’s Games were and those cartoons of him with a big belly were priceless. Now he says present-day Mayor Denis Coderre is upset for being depicted as Fred Flintstone. “I can tell you he does not like it very much,” he shared. “ He told me ‘I’m no dinosaur.’ So I will keep on doing it.”
The Coderre/Fred Flintstone drawing is one of those on display, everything pretty much placed by curator Christian Vachon by theme: A Changing Society, Quebec and Canadian Politics, Montreal Mayors, First Ministers and Montreal Life.
Aislin (that is the name of his daughter) loved drawing the likes of René Levesque, Jacques Parizeau, Louise Beaudoin, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Brian Mulroney. He is pleased to be adding a lot of Justin Trudeau cartoons to the collection.
Aislin: 50 Years of Cartoons will be at the McCord until August 13. It coincides with the launch of a new book entitled From Trudeau to Trudeau- Aislin – Fifty Years of Cartooning and prefaced by Bob Rae.