New Brunswick

Cartoonist set to replace de Adder quits, says he 'wouldn't wish this on anyone'

The cartoonist set to replace Michael de Adder at Brunswick News Inc. says he no longer wants to work for the company and asked that his cartoons be kept off the pages of its newspapers.

Greg Perry says social media backlash has 'destroyed' his character and cartoons

A cartoon by Greg Perry appeared in Wednesday's newspapers even though he says he asked Brunswick News not to use any of his work anymore. (Greg Perry/Brunswick News Inc.)

The cartoonist who was set to replace Michael de Adder at Brunswick News Inc. says he no longer wants to work for the company and asked that his cartoons be kept off the editorial pages of its newspapers.

In a statement to CBC News, Greg Perry said the social media backlash after BNI parted ways with de Adder, then used his name in statements about the decision, has taken a toll.

"I don't use social media, but person/persons who do have used it to essentially destroy my character and my cartoon work.

"All this over a job that pays the same per month as a job at a grocery chain. I wouldn't wish this on anyone."

The Halifax-based de Adder was let go last week, just days after his cartoon depicting U.S. President Donald Trump playing golf next to the bodies of two dead migrants went viral. 

His supporters on social media took up de Adder's cause, accusing BNI of dropping the cartoonist for business reasons having to do with the Irving interests that own BNI not wanting to antagonize Trump. 

In a statement, BNI has said that letting de Adder go was not related to the Trump cartoon.

"The decision to bring back reader favourite Greg Perry was made long before this cartoon, and negotiations had been ongoing for weeks," said the newspaper chain, which owns all three English-language dailies in the province and almost all of the weeklies.

In an interview with CBC News on Wednesday evening, Perry said he was uncomfortable being labelled a "reader favourite," which fuelled the backlash against him.

"That shook me up because at one point it felt like me versus the entire planet," he said.

"I'm shook up about it because I didn't intend to become the focal point of a social media frenzy. There was no ill to anybody, as far as from my side."

BNI offered "its full support" to Perry in another statement issued Wednesday.

"He is a talented cartoonist who has been unfairly maligned by the false narrative which recklessly erupted on social media in recent days."

BNI called before Trump cartoon

Perry's statement on Wednesday confirmed that BNI made its offer weeks before de Adder posted his Trump cartoon. He said a BNI representative contacted him at the beginning of June to ask him to start working for the newspapers again. He previously worked alongside de Adder, but was let go two years ago.

He said in the interview the offer from BNI wasn't presented as replacing de Adder and that he wasn't the focus of the discussions.

Perry, who lives in Vancouver, said he didn't accept the offer immediately but weighed his options during the next two weeks. He finally accepted the offer "at the urging of some friends and family members," he said.

On Friday, he was asked to provide cartoons he'd already drawn in case de Adder decided he didn't want to work the two-week departure agreement.

Then "several critical events" took place over the long weekend, Perry said. These included a social media backlash after de Adder tweeted that he was let go from Brunswick News after 17 years.

Halifax-based Michael de Adder announced on Friday that Brunswick News Inc. would no longer be using his cartoons. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

Perry said the resulting social media outrage, and the "the resulting attacks on me after BNI used my name in a clarification story etc. — caused me to change my mind" about accepting the offer.

He said he informed BNI that "it would be best if they found someone else to draw cartoons."

The chain "insisted on running the cartoons I'd provided way back on Friday, despite my asking them not to," said Perry, whose work also appears in the Toronto Star.

Perry said he has not drawn any cartoons specifically for BNI since he accepted, then rejected, the company's offer.

With files from Information Morning Moncton

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