day 6

U.S. school shootings are now so common political cartoons about them are timeless

Cartoonist Michael de Adder grapples with the fact that some of his most widely shared cartoons are about school shootings.
In this comic, the United States flag displays guns in place of the flag's official 50 stars. (Michael de Adder/Chronicle Herald)
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Michael de Adder has an evergreen collection of cartoons to represent school shootings.

Each time another deadly event makes headlines, the Halifax-based cartoonist finds his pieces resurrected and shared on social media.

"If you draw a cartoon that doesn't specifically say Sandy Hook on it, it's good for the next shooting and the next shooting," he says on Day 6.

"That sounds a little bit like I'm joking on a sombre day, but the truth is these things keep repeating themselves like Groundhog Day."

With the rate of shootings at schools in the United States, the frequency of those retweets isn't surprising.

This cartoon was in response to the California State University, San Bernardino campus shooting on December 2, 2015. (Michael de Adder/Chronicle Herald)

So far in 2018, there have already been 17 shootings on school campuses in the U.S.

That's an average of two school shootings each week.

The phrase, 'another school shooting,' has become so commonplace that the event itself blends into the other unfortunate news of the day.

"Whenever there's another shooting, all I have to do is go on Twitter and one of these cartoons — these evergreen cartoons — show up," de Adder says.

Among his most retweeted is a drawing that features an NRA member holding the Statue of Liberty hostage with a gun to her head.

One of ten U.S.-themed cartoons that earned Michael de Adder a nomination for the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award in 2013. (Michael de Adder/Chronicle Herald)

De Adder, who is used to presenting politicians and celebrities in a funny light, says there's a fine line when it comes to these illustrations.

"You've got tragedy compounded by the fact that it's dealing with a school, so right off the bat you've got to be a little bit careful," he says.

"On the other hand, you're still very much angry and you know, an angry cartoon on a day like this also works."

Published after the Orlando night club shooting in June 2016. (Michael de Adder/Chronicle Herald)

In the wake of Wednesday's shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., de Adder used his pencil to highlight the number of shootings at American high schools.

"I drew school supplies you get in Canada ... from Japan …. from Britain," he says.

In Canada, students bring a Camp Fire notebook to school. In Japan, a Hello Kitty pencil case. In the U.K., a textbook wrapped in the Union Jack.

In the United States? "I drew an AR-15 with magazines and bullets."


To hear our full segment with Michael de Adder, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.