Alumnus Profile: Brian Gable, editorial cartoonist for the Globe and Mail


Editorial cartoonist Brian Gable says his start with the “left wing, anti-establishment” Sheaf was “somewhat different” than his current employer – the Globe and Mail.

Gable has had an illustrious 25-year career with the Globe and Mail — winning National Newspaper Awards in 1986, 1995, 2001, and 2005 — and the Sheaf was the inspiration for his career.

“The Sheaf was a pivotal thing in my life,” said Gable. “It planted that tiny little seed that this is something that I could do as a career.”

But it took time for that seed to grow. He contributed to the Sheaf while studying fine arts at the University of Saskatchewan, but he didn’t publish editorial cartoons again until about seven years after he graduated from the U of S.

He moved to Ontario, graduating with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto in 1971, and taught art in Brockville. In 1977, he started freelancing for the Brockville Recorder.

His first taste of what it might be like to be a full-time editorial cartoonist came in 1980 when he was hired as graphic designer at the Regina Leader-Post.

“I really flamed out as a graphic designer,” he said. “But over time people started to like the local cartoons, especially in Saskatchewan because no one was doing stuff on Saskatchewan politics, and people really started to have fun with it. So my position was slowly saved. I came close to being jettisoned.”

In 1987, when he got a call asking if he’d be interested in a position as a full-time editorial cartoonist for the Globe and Mail, he jumped at the chance to move back to Ontario.

Yet he never underestimates the effect the Sheaf had on deciding his career path.

“Many days, I’d pick up the Sheaf and think, where’s the New York Times? I’m ready! This is great stuff!” said Gable. “I can’t believe that I had the audacity to think that stuff was ready for publication; it’s so crude, so elementary, so unrefined.

“Some people are great and they get going on the right track quickly,” he continued. “I had a long learning curve, and the Sheaf was the very beginning.”

Gable will be the keynote speaker at the Sheaf’s centennial celebration on Nov. 3. Attendees can expect a lively discussion of Sheaf history with editorial cartoons for illustrations, and perhaps even some live demonstrations of his own cartooning skills.

For his talk, Gable plans on examining the changes in the Sheaf over time and what that has to say about universities, and the world in general.

In noticing that the tone of the articles written in 1912 are surprisingly similar to those written in 2012, Gable suggested the similarity might have something to do with the age of the students running the paper.

“Universally when you’re that age, you’re starting to realize a lot of things you’ve been told are bunk. It’s a healthy stage to go through. I wouldn’t be shocked if they were flippant in a sense about what people say you shouldn’t be flippant about. Some of us never grow out of that and become cartoonists.”

The Sheaf, Sept. 26, 1967

Courtesy of the Globe and Mail

Photo provided by the Globe and Mail

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