CBC Digital Archives

Margaret Atwood, closet cartoonist

Poet, novelist, storywriter and essayist — the Ottawa native is a Canadian literary giant. Margaret Atwood first raised eyebrows as a young poet in the 1960s. Since then, one of Canada's most written about writers has struggled to keep her personal life private. Over her prolific career, Atwood has earned a reputation for being brilliant but aloof. But her caustic tongue and wicked sense of humour only fuel Atwood's stature as an internationally acclaimed writer.

media clip
"Basically I can't draw," Atwood tells CBC's Peter Gzowski as she illustrates a few of her cartoon characters. The accomplished writer is also a cartoonist for This Magazine. Using the pseudonym Bart Gerrard, Atwood's Kanadian Kulture Komic deals with issues such as nationalism and sexual politics. Atwood displays her sense of humour saying she knew her cartoons were being read when she began to receive hate mail addressed to Bart Gerrard.

Kanadian Kulture Komic, spelt with Ks because it's "just one of those stupid jokes," follows the adventures of Survival Woman. Atwood, an established novelist, poet, storywriter and now cartoonist, talks about being one of the most written about writers in Canada. "You're supposed to do one thing," she says, "if you do more than that, people get confused and want to write about you."
• This Magazine is Canada's longest-publishing alternative journal. Originally called This Magazine is About Schools, the magazine was founded in 1966 by a group of activists. The current version of This Magazine covers everything from Canadian politics, pop culture and the arts.

• Journalist Rick Salutin convinced his friend Margaret Atwood to join the magazine, which resulted in the Kanadian Kulture Komic strip.

• Her pseudonym for her cartoon strips came from the initials of a 19th century political cartoonist who simply signed his name as B.G.

• The May/June 1978 issue of This Magazine included an ad for a set of 10 Survival Woman cards "ineptly drawn by Bart Gerrard."

• Atwood uses the name O.W. Toad, which is an anagram of Atwood, for the copyright of her books. It's also the domain name of her website.
Medium: Television
Program: 90 Minutes Live
Broadcast Date: Jan. 12, 1978
Guest(s): Margaret Atwood
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 14:32

Last updated: November 13, 2014

Page consulted on November 13, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

1991: Fergie Jenkins named first Canadian in ...

Coming to Cooperstown is a great honour, but it comes on the heels of great personal loss.

The Resilience of Canadian Tire

Since its origins as a family company in 1922, Canadian Tire has become a national icon and a ...

Nine dead in explosion of HMCS Kootenay

(silent footage) HMCS Kootenay explodes in the English Channel, killing nine members of the Ca...

Canadian marries into British royalty

It's a Canadian fairy tale as Montreal's Autumn Kelly gets set to marry Queen Elizabeth's gran...

Joannie Rochette becomes Canadian skating cha...

After winning Canada's top women's figure skating honour in 2005, Quebec's Rochette describes ...

Chinese immigration: A changing identity

By 2004, Chinese-Canadian identity combines old and new world traditions.