Long-time Comox Valley Record editorial cartoonist Bob Castle has published a book of his top 100 Under The Glacier cartoons.
After more than 20 years of being featured on the opinion page of The Record, Castle said he felt the time was right.
“I did it now because it’s really important for me,” he said. “It’s a local thing. Local cartoonist, local paper, only for sale in two local stores – Laughing Oyster (in Courtenay) and Blue Heron (in Comox), and I just figured in these times it would be best to keep it that way. I had it printed locally by the wonderful people at ABC Printing. So the whole thing is Comox Valley local. I thought it would be good, especially now, during COVID-19… help some local businesses out, help a printer out.”
With more than two decades’ worth of material, he had a lot to work with.
“Near as I can figure, I think it was about 1996 or ’97 when The Record first started publishing me,” said Castle. “So I just went back through them all. There’s the ones that won me awards, the ones that got us the most hate mail, or fan mail, whichever… just the ones I got a lot of response from. I started off with some from 2019 and just worked my way back through the years. I have thousands of these.”
He did make an exception. He said he purposely omitted any of the cartoons that poked fun at specific people.
“Any of the ones about Stan (Hagen) or any of the MLAs, I left those out,” he said. “But there are cartoons there about the regional district, the Comox Valley, Comox, Cumberland and Courtenay… cartoons about each of those areas. The ones people really liked, like the one about them filling the reservoir with Lucky Lager. All those fun ones.
“The response has been really, really good so far.”
Castle said publishing a ‘Best of’ book has been on his to-do list for many years. It was just a matter of finding the time to do it.
“The timing was right, particularly as everyone is trying to support each other through this pandemic,” he said. “We had looked at prices [for publishing] online and it has really come down in the past few years, but my wife [Lilly] was the one who said ‘let’s keep this local… let’s have it printed here, only sell it locally, let’s help each other out.”
Castle said when he approached the Laughing Oyster about carrying his book, he was taken aback to find out the store is owned by a former favourite target of his, Evelyn Gillespie, who was the NDP MLA for the Comox Valley riding from 1996-2001.
“I hammered her for a few years because it was during the controversial years, when the NDP was going to expropriate Glacier View Lodge, they had the CasinoGate thing… but she sent me an email saying ‘Bob, congratulations! We will take 10 books to start off, even though I’ve never liked your cartoons.
“She really didn’t like me, but I’m glad she can forgive and forget.”
Other politicians loved Castle’s sense of humour, including the late Stan Hagen (Comox MLA, 1986-1991; Comox Valley MLA 2001-2009).
“Stan was funny. It didn’t matter how badly I cartooned Stan, he would call me up and say ‘can I have a copy for my office wall?’ So it really depended on the person.”
For more information, or to buy a book directly from Castle, check out the Under The Glacier Facebook page.