Brian Mulroney Cartoons: My First Attempt at Satire

In the spring of 1992, my father accepted a pastoral position in Calgary and our family moved from Manitoba to Alberta, heart of Reform Party country. I think I had an interest in politics before then, but it really ramped up when I arrived in Calgary at the height of Preston Manning mania. Ahh, yes, those were the days…

It was about this time when I started to dabble in political cartooning. I had always been a writer. As a young child I wrote poetry and short stories. However, there was a period, say 1992 and 1993, when I churned out literally hundreds of political cartoons, most of them focused on my arch enemy at the time: Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Recently, I discovered six notebooks full of these cartoons in an old desk. I honestly have not looked at them in decades. Examining them now I can see that most of them were not that funny and the artwork was not very good, but, hey, I was 12 and I’m quite certain this was my very first foray into satire.

These cartoons have remained unseen for twenty-seven years, but I present a few of them here for your perusal now. Enjoy!

A good Mennonite kid always has to weave in Biblical analogies:

“This time, though, God didn’t provide the ram.”

Well, that’s quite a trio!

“House of horrors”

He did have a  big chin….

“Mulroney slides”

This one is about as sophisticated as it gets….

“Stop. Time out!”

I actually think this one is kind of funny. Do you remember those “Tax this, Brian!” bumper stickers?

“Tax this, Brian!”

Ahh, yes, the classic angel and devil on the shoulder!

“Mulroney’s peer pressure.”

And then, as I page through these notebooks, I notice that they just stop, literally right in the middle of an unfinished Kim Campbell cartoon. My interest had waned or moved on to other things….

Teaching Satire: Resources for Educators

From about the age of twelve to fourteen, I filled Hillroy notebooks with poorly-drawn, occasionally funny, political cartoons. Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister at the time and it was fun to exaggerate the length of his chin while offering my Junior High critique of his tax plan. I can’t say this type of writing was ever encouraged in any classes I took in school. It was just this thing I did on my own. My cartoons were never shown to anyone.

Later I became an educator myself and have been teaching high school English Language Arts for fifteen years. I taught a unit on satire for about twelve years before I started The Daily Bonnet, a satirical news website that focuses on my own Mennonite cultural and religious background.

Satire is a powerful communication tool and a form of writing that is increasingly common today. However, it’s not often understood very well. My intention here is not to provide lesson plans (those, I assume, you can put together yourself), but rather to draw attention to a few concepts that are essential if you want to give your students a better understanding of satire. I highly recommend that you have your students write their own satires as well. It’s challenging, but a lot of fun and quite rewarding when they see the finished product.

There is no “fake news” crisis. If there’s a problem, the problem is lack of literacy. I firmly believe that if people are being “fooled” by “fake news” (whether satire or deceptive fake news) it is not the fault of “the Russians” or anyone else who might be churning out misleading memes in a basement somewhere. Failure to understand or “get” satire, and failure to be able to differentiate between real and fake news, is entirely a literacy issue and the solution lies, then, not with politicians, but with teachers and parents.

By reading and writing satire, students should develop critical thinking skills and creative writing skills. Beyond that, it’s actually a lot of fun! Whether you’re a teacher, student, or just someone interested in learning more about satire, I hope you’ll find these resources helpful.

Click on the links below to learn more:

Understanding satire: What makes people laugh?

Understanding satire: What is satire?

Understanding satire: What is “fake news”?

Understanding satire: How to detect satire

Understanding satire: Examples of satire

Understanding satire: Cognitive biases and satire

Writing satire: Tone in satire

Writing satire: Types of exaggeration

Writing satire: Are you punching up or punching down?

So Who Writes The Daily Bonnet Anyway?

Hello. I’m  Andrew Unger, a church-going Mennonite pastor’s son from Steinbach. Surprised? Well, some of you know me as Andrew J. Bergman, the pen name I used from 2014 until now.

I used the pen name for two years before starting the Daily Bonnet, the name selected as a tribute to my grandfather, an amateur poet. However, as the Daily Bonnet gained more notoriety and I was invited to speak in public and write for other publications it became a bit of a hassle. How do I introduce myself? etc. etc. It is a family name, my mother’s maiden name, but I’ve decided to make it simple. Andrew Unger it is. That’s my real name. Besides, a pen name doesn’t seem very Menno now does it?

This will also make it much easier for you to find me on the Grandma’s Window genealogy website. We’re all frintschoft now aren’t we anyway?

On my new website, andrewunger.com, you’ll find information about speaking events, blog postings, and upcoming book releases! If you haven’t already, you can follow Andrew Unger on Facebook and Twitter.