No Laughing Matter

Ben Wicks The First Ben Wicks Treasury Agincourt, ON: Methuen 1995, $12.95

By Shirley Farlinger (reviewer)

Ben Wicks, impish Toronto cartoonist, injects his sense of theridiculous into matters usually considered "no laughing matter". His syndicated strip "The Outcasts" mirrors the male-female, politician-voter, child-parent communication gaps. And his tiny cartoons in one corner of page one of the Toronto Star often cut generals and politicians down to Ben's compact size.

Now the best 800 of his rib-ticklers havebeen compiled into The First Ben Wicks Treasury and from them we have picked a few relating to peace.

Wicks come honestly by his English sense of humour; he wasborn a block away from London Bridge in 1926. He left school at age fourteen, he confesses in his book. "I went to one of the finest art schools in the world, the Comberwell School of Art in London. It's true I only went there for two weeks - evening classes." In 1957 Ben and his wife Doreen emigrated to Canada, where he continued to be a Ben-of-all-trades until he discovered cartooning.

His book and much of his life are dedicated to Doreen, who is intensely involved in volunteer work. Ben proudly describes some of her ongoing projects. "Three shipments of medicine which Doreen collected in her 14,000 square foot warehouse in Toronto are being shipped to Somalia, the Sudan, and Peru for missionaries to distribute with the help of the Salvation Army. Together with five aid agencies she organized a project by Toronto schoolchildren to send 40,000 blankets to Port Sudan for the famine victims. I was with her delivering medicine, reporting for the Star, and living with the rebels of Northern Ethiopia where one million people have been completely cut off. Our biggest problem," he continues, "is to keep the attention of the public on the problem of hunger."

"Similarly with peace, you constantly have to remind people that we enjoy being in a peaceful society. Like the girl with the

peace banner" he says, recalling one of his cartoons, "and the father saying, 'Any luck yet?' You can't stop the bombs but you can remind people. They laugh and then they think about it."

Wicks and his publisher have agreed to make his book available for fundraising efforts by peace groups. Please use the coupon below.

Peace Magazine December 1985

Peace Magazine December 1985, page 23. Some rights reserved.

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