Bruce MacKinnon cartoon

Bruce MacKinnon's moving cartoon ran in the Chronicle Herald Oct. 23. (Bruce MacKinnon/Halifax Chronicle Herald)

Bruce MacKinnon, an editorial cartoonist at The Chronicle Herald, is being praised for his editorial cartoon on a day when many are at a loss for words.

His cartoon for Oct. 23 shows the bronze statues from the National War Memorial in Ottawa leaning down to comfort Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was shot and killed while standing guard at the memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Wednesday morning.

MacKinnon said he's surprised at the reaction to his work — news publications in the U.S. and the U.K. have asked to use it.

"I'm still really kind of overwhelmed by reaction to this cartoon. Sometimes you just don't know," he told CBC's Mainstreet on Thursday.

"That's kind of shocking to me."

MacKinnon said he was working on other cartoons Wednesday morning when "all hell" started breaking loose in Ottawa and his other ideas "became quite trivial by comparison."

He did several sketches and showed his editors, and everyone agreed on the one that eventually ran — of a First World War soldier leaning over Cirillo's body. Only the young soldier's feet — with ​red and white Argyll and Sutherland Highland socks — are visible.

"You have to be extremely careful, you have to be extremely clear because things can be misinterpreted. People are very upset and angry. And yet, you don't want to be trite or simplistic or maudlin," MacKinnon said.

"What you say is going to be weighted and judged by a lot of people. There's some care that goes into it."

MacKinnon said it's good to know still images can have relevance.

"A still image can be a really potent thing in a lot of ways and I think as the internet takes over and there are so many different formats that communication takes the form of, it's really gratifying to me to see that a single still image can still move so many people," he said.

This image has been published with the Herald's permission.