Charles Checketts grew up in the UK, and came to Canada five years ago. Some time ago, Charles kindly donated a framed cartoon to the magazine for live auction. We so enjoyed the image of Cedric Mortimer, literary critic, that we asked Charles if we could reproduce his drawing on a postcard advertising our reader’s choice contest. Many of our readers so loved the postcard that they declined to send it back in. Alice Zorn, for instance, wrote, “The celebration of [your readers’ most loved writers in Issue 100] was a particularly good idea…I felt guilty that I didn’t send in my postcard nominating anyone. I liked the illustration too much. It’s still on my desk. That affected bud of the mouth inside a goatee. Somewhere in some (unpublished) story or another, I’ve got a female character who says you should never trust a man who likes to put a frame around every utterance, i.e. a goatee. That postcard speaks to me.” This profession was just the impetus we needed to put together a little feature on Charles’ work.
In conversation about the rogue’s gallery that follows, Charles says, “I chose to celebrate my adopted country with a series of drawings of people who collectively make me think of Canada.” Colour drawings of various Canadian ‘celebrities’ are interspersed with cartoon strips of Romeo Dallaire facing some of life’s everyday challenges—trying to crack a nut, in our favourite instance. In response to our initial concerns, given Dallaire’s personal history, Charles says the strips are not “meant to poke fun at his heroism, but to put something out there that is on a more positive, light-hearted note. I think that we get too bogged down with the misery and I’m sure that he’d see the funny side to them, or at least I hope he would.” Indeed, we hope all of his subjects (including the three most loved writers featured on our cover—Annabel Lyon, Elisabeth Harvor, and the always dapper Russell Smith) will take his drawings in just this spirit!
Our conversation with Charles continues after this series.