For the love of Brantford: Art by Dave McCreary

Every week for six years, Dave McCreary has been using his artistic talents to chronicle Brantford’s newsiest antics.

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McCreary is the editorial cartoonist for Brant News. Every Tuesday night he submits a timey and humorous look at the goings-on of the city.

McCreary’s connection to cartooning has been lifelong.

“Even when I was a kid I was into editorials, because my dad had all of the editorial cartoon books. Like Duncan Macpherson, he was the guy in the 70s and 80s. I would always be looking through those,” he said.

“I love the drawing style, the old school cross hatching lines and ink work. Then I saw an opportunity to do that at university, so I just jumped right in.”

McCreary began submitting editorials to the school paper at the University of Western Ontario in his freshman year, and continued until he graduated from teacher’s college five years later.

McCreary’s cartoons have always been humorous. In Brantford, he’s found that his satirical perspective is both poking fun at and showing an appreciation for the once down-and-out city that he grew up in.

“Growing up in early 80s Brantford, no one had a job, everything was going out of business. There was just nothing going on,” he said.

But when he moved back to Brantford to start a teaching job at Pauline Johnson Collegiate & Vocational School, he found a very different Brantford than the one of his youth.

“It was picking up,” he said. This new city ended up being a spark of inspiration for his art.

“I hadn’t been doing any art for ages, and then I just started doodling and scribbling, and I did a series of 52 Brantford drawings in a year, so one a week,” he said.

These drawings ended up being his Bunkford project, which was later displayed at the Brantford Arts Block when it was still on Dalhousie Street.

“I just stumbled onto the Brantford theme, and then I decided to stick with it. I kept going back to it for ideas. I find that’s the hardest thing, finding something to make art about. I want to just sit down and do the physical act of drawing, but you need that spark, that one little thing to hang your ideas one. You come up with that one thing and you just take off in however many directions and styles.”

McCreary’s newest art project is a superhero mythology series for Alexander Graham Bell, all done on large pieces of folded paper. He’s experimenting with different inks and a loose, fun style.

“I like this a bit better because you’re still thinking while you’re drawing, you’re still making stuff up and making changes. It’s a bit more exciting that way,” he said.

He has a popular digital project on the go too, in which he’s created neighbourhood crests for Brantford. He has them all on a poster now.

Brantford has also inspired McCreary to create a series of fictional portraits of the citizens of Brantferd, a “paralleled universe” to the city he lives in. This project has allowed him to explore a more artistic and technical style of drawing.

McCreary hopes to finish the Brantferd project by next winter, then have an art show and get all the portraits into a book.

McCreary has already published three books of art, all from his editorial cartoons. The first two were yearly collections that showed the beginning and end stage of his popular drawings.

The third book, which was released last winter and called The Big Book of Brantford, was a collection of his most popular work from the past five years. He was able to organize these pages into topical categories, like the South side of Colbourne Street, local politicians, boundary issues, the Brantford logo, and weather jokes, just to name a few.

Whenever McCreary is struggling for an idea, he can always do a weather joke.

“I’ll have a week and I’ll think I’ve just captured this, some local political thing, and I’ll think it’s my best one of the year. I’ll post it on Facebook, and maybe eight people will like it. Then I’ll do one about the weather, and I get 100 shares,” he said.

With 491 shares, his most popular cartoon to date is one about Dairee Delite. His recent commentary about Earl Haig Family Fun Park has also been a hit, with 444 shares. Any weird Brantford crime stories end up being popular, too.

McCreary is currently teaching video production and graphic design at Brantford Collegiate Institute, his alma mater. He teaches alongside his wife, Danielle Curtis.


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