P.E.I. newspaper cartoonist's run ends after 40 years of making connections with 'real Island people'

Wayne Wright has been sketching the daily cartoons for Summerside, P.E.I.-based newspaper the Journal Pioneer for the past 40 years, but last week that came to an end.

Wright says he was let go as a cost cutting measure.

"I built up this brand for myself on this particular part of the newspaper. I built it up for 40 years," Wright told CBC Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie.

Wright said he was told it is cheaper for the paper to utilize the cartoonists from the Halifax-based Chronicle Herald.

"I thought I was an institution, maybe I should be in an institution," Wright said.

Offered reduced work

He said he was given the option to reduce his daily cartoons to just two days a week. Wright said he thought about it before declining the offer.

"I'm not going to just ease on down the hallway. I'm not going to."

Wright said he is focusing on the positive, that where one door closes another one opens.

"I felt kind of a weight off my shoulders that I don't even have to listen to the news every hour or half-hour."

Wright said he plans to keep busy with other creative endeavours because he doesn't want to lose his "creative urge."

"One thing about cartoons — it was a popular medium. It's what everyone can enjoy and I'm so honoured that people have had fun with the cartoons for 40 years."

Community support

Wright posted about leaving the Journal Pioneer and has received many supportive messages — the post has been shared over 1,000 times.

"I'm honoured that people are buzzing about it."

Wright said if there was public support and the Journal Pioneer wanted him back he would return as the daily cartoonist.

"I'd be back in a shot. Love to do a daily cartoon for the rest of my life."

Wright's cartoons were about Islanders 99 per cent of the time, he said.

"That's what really matters, the connection with real Island people."

'You'll never see a daily cartoonist on P.E.I. again'

Pat Martel/CBC

Wright got his start doing cartoons for PC candidate Angus MacLean in 1979, but the campaign was too worried to use the cartoons, Wright said.

"There I was with a whole bunch of cartoons so I sold them to The Guardian for $5 a cartoon and my career was launched."

Wright published a book of his cartoons called Who's Who on P.E.I.

Wright said the journalism industry is changing.

"You'll never see a daily cartoonist on P.E.I. again, but I'd love to be that person if they needed one."

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