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The Great Terry Mosher, by Linda Leith
Terry Mosher, who publishes under the name Aislin, has published cartoons on many national and international topics, but he is best known and best loved for his work about Quebec in countless moments of crisis, consternation, and joy.
These have made him one of the most familiar voices of English Quebec. They have created a comic sense of the look of the English-speaking Quebecer – whether in full protective gear or in the guise of a mouse on a kitchen floor – and of our speech and obsessions. In so doing, they have allowed the world inside Quebec and beyond its borders to see an English-speaking Quebec that is brimming with life and vitality.
Mosher’s characters include everyone from the politician, the corporate executive, the medical professional, and the hipster to the garbage collector, the jock, the couch potato, and the barroom habitué. These are just a few of the thousands of recognizable characters Mosher has lived among – and brought to life in his work. And he has done this not only with great artistry, but also with a sense of humour that few others can rival.
Part of what makes his cartoons so effective is Mosher’s full awareness of prevailing stereotypes of English-speaking Quebecers. There are different ways that a member of a minority can react to being stereotyped, most of them ineffective. Mosher doesn’t rail against the stereotypes, and he doesn’t get angry. Instead, he plays with these stereotypes in ways that make us all think again, in ways that make us laugh at ourselves – and in ways that bring us all together. Who has not laughed at an Aislin cartoon? And who has not shared it with another and got them to laugh, too?
As a cartoonist who has flourished over a long period of profound change in Quebec, Terry Mosher has complicated and enriched the ways in which English-speaking Quebecers are seen and understood, and he has done so with glee. It is a great accomplishment.
© 2017, Linda Leith
Linda Leith, LLP and LLÉ publisher, is the author most recently of Writing in The Time of Nationalism (Signature, 2010; translated into French as Écrire au temps du nationalisme, Leméac 2014) and the Introduction to Mavis Gallant's play What Is To Be Done? (LLP 2017)