Political cartoonist Mr. Fish (Dwayne Booth) is known for his provocative, intelligent, and overtly political images that continually challenge the state, and the status quo. Pablo Bryant‘s Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End gives us an opportunity to learn more about Booth’s work, his family, and the ups and downs of working in an industry that is on its way out.
Through candid interviews with Booth, his wife Diana Day, friends, colleagues, and quiet moments of Booth at work, we get a glimpse at his private and public worlds. Booth explains, “I want cartooning to be dangerous. I want it to be more than ink on paper.” His commitment to his work ethic and political outlook make things complicated for Booth. In a meeting with a former agent, Daryl Cagle, shows how difficult to sell Booth’s work when he represented him. Cagle puts it simply, “What editors like is funny little jokes that offend no one.” How is Booth to stay true to himself in such a climate? This is a question we continually ponder watching his film.
Being able to work from allows Booth time to spend with his children. His wife, Day is the main provider for the household given her full-time work. This adds to the tension between the two of them. The honest and intimate moments between the couple help us understand the complexities of their relationship, but also the love and support Day gives Booth. She fully understands his nature, and knows this.
By using animated sequences along with static images, Bryant highlights Booth’s unique way of understanding the world. In these tumultuous time, Booth thinks “there’s still so much work to do, who’s gonna do it?…I will… I want to create art that makes people think about their humanity.”
Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End premieres at Hot Docs April 29, 2018 with follow-up screenings on May 1 and May 6, 2018. For full listings and tickets, visit hotdocs.ca.