DAN CEARNS, The Standard
NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: Longtime cartoonist for The Standard, Walt Radda, will be celebrating 25 years of cartooning, with an exhibit at the Kent Farndale Gallery, in March of 2023.
The exhibit, at the Port Perry gallery, will be titled ‘25 Years of Scugog in Cartoons’ and will run from March 4th to March 30th.
Mr. Radda started his cartooning career in 1997, working for the Port Perry Star, before it was owned by Metroland.
“I was working at General Motors, and there, I just started doing caricatures and cartoons of foremen and supervisors, and it kind of became a big deal there for a while. It was a lot of fun being able to spoof people. It became more and more of a pastime for me,” Mr. Radda explained. “I would try some different cartoon strips and send them off but never had much success. I tried here and there to send my work to newspapers, and on one occasion, I stopped at the Port Perry Star and asked if they were interested in a cartoonist. It just so happened my timing was perfect because their former cartoonist Tim Dolighan had just left.”
He got a two-week trial with that newspaper and was later hired on. Then, following the Port Perry Star’s change in ownership to Metroland, many personnel transitions took place. As a result The Standard, then known as the Scugog Standard, was created, and Mr. Radda decided to join the Standard team.
“They asked me if I would continue with them, and I was happy to do so because I had friendships there, and I felt a loyalty to this group. The Port Perry Star did offer me a position, but I felt loyal to The Standard group. So, I’ve continued with them until [the] present day,” he said.
Mr. Radda does both the editorial cartoon and the ‘Home Team’ cartoon for The Standard. At one point, he had tried doing his own, custom cartoon creation, online business but found that wasn’t for him.
“People could send me their requests, and I would draw their cartoons for them. Although I was having some success at it, I found I didn’t really like it. People could be too particular. After a while, it became too much drudgery for not enough reward.”
Mr. Radda stated, after he sends the cartoon to the newspaper, he’s never sure what type of response he’ll get from the community. “I hope they’re funny. I think people enjoy them,” he said.
He’s also a self-professed procrastinator. “I’ll get the idea [concept, from the newspaper,] on Friday. I always kind of leave it. I always think I should start earlier, but then the [creative] idea sometimes doesn’t come to me until Monday or on Tuesday morning, which is the deadline, and then I have to scramble to complete it.”
However, Mr. Radda has no regrets about getting into this line of work. “It’s become such a big part of my life, a very enjoyable and rewarding undertaking, or hobby.”
Cartooning also helped Mr. Radda reach, what he calls, his “greatest triumph.” “My family and I really enjoyed the show ‘Corner Gas’. We watched every episode, and it was really our favourite show when it was on. I had just left General Motors in 2009. That’s when I was in limbo, and it was kind of the lowest point of my life at that point. One of my daughters said, ‘hey, Corner Gas is having a contest for their last season. It’s a contest, you can enter, to commemorate the series with a poster.’ So I drew a cartoon, and threw into it all of our favourite elements. I drew them all as the band, [from one of the episodes], and threw all of these elements in, and we entered it. I won; it was chosen as the winner. That was so surprising and so thrilling for us all.”
This victory led to appearances on ‘Canada AM’ and ‘Etalk’ and to meeting members of the show’s cast.
“It was really a wonderful, thrilling experience for us. We expected television celebrity types, but right away, we were like old friends, [instead]. We were so impressed with them. They were such nice people.”