Author Tags: Humour, Kidlit & Young Adult, Outdoors
Born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1957, cartoonist Adrian Raeside lived briefly in England before coming to Canada and working in Thunder Bay. He first published his work by illustrating a children's book written by his mother, Joan Raeside, in 1978. He began working as a political editorial cartoonist for the Times-Colonist in Victoria in the early 1980s, eventually being syndicated in 200 newspapers. He created his comic strip called The Other Coast in 1990. It appeared as a Sunday colour comic until emerging into a daily in 1999. In 1988 Raeside began an animation company called Heckle Films. Since then he has created and produced dozens of animated shows for Turner Broadcasting, CBC and Sesame Street. Animation for children led him to produce a series of children's books based on a portly dragon character created by his mother and intial co-author Joan Raeside. Dennis the Dragon and Dennis and the Big Clean-up were followed by a cautionary picture book called Dennis and the Fantastic Forest. The hero packs a picnic of chicken on doughnuts and strawberry noodles, heads for the woods and discovers his brothers have left blackened stumps -- and one tiny brown seed. Dennis nurtures it into a seedling and, in typical dragon fashion, gets carried away. Soon trees sprout from rooftops, playgrounds, duckponds, sofas and even jeans. But Dennis comes up with a solution and a new job that puts a damper on his fire breathing brothers.
Adrian Raeside’s No Sailing Waits and Other Ferry Tales: 30 Years of BC Ferries Cartoons (Harbour 2012) contains hard-hitting cartoons about the BC Ferry system produced over a thirty-year period. A far more gentle humour is evident in Raeside’s The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise (Harbour 2012), a magical tale of adventure for children and pet lovers of all ages. When a boy loses his beloved canine companion, the pooch waits from him in a heavenly place called Rainbow Bridge where pet owners are reunited with their pets in the after-life.
Tails Don't Lie: A Decade of Dog Cartoons (70 in Dog Years) appeared on the BC Bestseller List in 2014. Promotional material states: "This collection is for anyone who has ever wondered what constitutes "dog breath" to a dog, the real reason why dogs hate doggie coats, or why they replaced woolly mammoths as man's best friend. The answer to the last question is that dogs shed slightly less. But for other profound, hilarious and sometimes poignant observations, like why dogs shouldn’t open restaurants, or what would happen if a dog actually caught a car, readers need look no further than Tails Don't Lie."
Raeside lived at Maple Bay on Vancouver Island before he moved to Whistler around the turn of the century.
Tails Don’t Lie 2 - A Pack of Dog Cartoons (Harbour 2017)
The Best of Adrian Raeside: A Treasury of BC Cartoons (Harbour 2014) $12.95 978-1-55017-631-5
Tails Don't Lie: A Decade of Dog Cartoons (70 in Dog Years) (Harbour 2013) $12.95 978-1-55017-599-8
The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise (Harbour Publishing 2012) $9.95 978-1-55017-584-4
No Sailing Waits and Other Ferry Tales: 30 Years of BC Ferries Cartoons (Harbour 2012) $9.95 978-1-55017-596-7
Return to Antarctica: The Amazing Adventure of Sir Charles Wright on Robert Scott's Journey to the South Pole (Wiley & Sons, 2009)
5 Twisted Years: B.C.--What Really Happened (Sono Nis)
Best of Raeside (Sono Nis)
Dennis and the Fantastic Rainforest (Doubleday 1997)
Dennis and the Big Clean-up (Doubleday 1995
Dennis the Dragon (Doubleday 1994)
The Demented Decade (Doubleday 1994)
There Goes the Neighbourhood: An Irreverent History of Canada (Doubleday, 1992)
PHOTO: Adrian Raeside finds his grandfather’s bunk in the preserved Terra Nova hut, Cape Evans, 2008.
[BCBW 2016] "Humour" "Kidlit"
The Canadian scientist who accompanied Scott to Antarctica
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Canadians whose under-heralded achievements deserve the treatment of a full-length book or biography, but however long the list, Charles Seymour Wright surely sits near the top.
Wright, a bright and promising science student from Toronto, was pursuing graduate studies at Cambridge in 1910 when he was seized by the drama and glory of polar adventure and marched fifty miles to London to push his way into the legendary Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole led by Robert Falcon Scott. While Wright’s role in the epic has rarely been acknowledged, let alone celebrated, it may strike readers of Return to Antarctica: The Amazing Adventure of Sir Charles Wright on Robert Scott's Journey to the South Pole as the most enduring and powerful set of contributions to that historic endeavour.
The book released in the fall of 2009 (John Wiley and Sons) is an account of the Scott Terra Nova adventure from the unique viewpoint of a young scientist with some north woods experience and the stigma of “the colonies.” It is a story that will intrigue many of those who thought they knew everything there is to know about polar exploration and one that will challenge instinctive Canadian modesty.
Terra Nova, the name of the Labrador-based sealing ship purchased from Bowrings of Newfoundland for what would be Scott’s final journey, became the label for glorious tragedy. The expedition is remembered and retold because of Scott’s gruesome death and that of the four others who had accompanied him to the Pole in January 1912. There they were confronted with the sight of a flag, a tent, and other heart-breaking evidence that their Norwegian competitor Roald Amundsen had beaten them to their goal by thirty-four days. Scott and his compatriots railed at their misfortune, then starved, froze, and finally expired on the trek back to the Cape Evans base camp on the coast.
In November that year, the early weeks of the Antarctic summer, with Wright acting as “Navigator”, a search party finally located Scott and two of his ice-encrusted comrades. It was Wright who spotted a tiny point poking through the snow close to a kilometre away, veered off from the others, and dug into the drifts to eventually locate the frozen bodies, the tents, equipment, and most influentially their notes. These notes not only told the story of Scott’s arrival at the Pole, but also confirmed Amundsen’s achievement and conveyed the heroism and drama of the adventure in a vivid and heart-rending form that fuelled the legend and launched an avalanche of telling and retelling of the saga. Had Wright and his search party cohorts failed, the other fragments of the story would not have had the cohesion and focus needed to inspire and resonate. And “Scott” would not be the synonym for Polar exploration that it is today.
Wright, the Canadian physics student, was also central to two other iconic features of the Terra Nova expedition: photographs and science.
The expedition and the drama that engulfed it was made vivid and compelling by hundreds of photos taken by professional filmmaker and photographer Herbert Ponting. Even though Ponting survived to produce two widely seen films from what he collected in the Antarctic, the most arresting and haunting images of the expedition are perhaps those shot from within the towering “ice cave” with Charles Wright standing in them and
the portrait-style close-up of Wright’s blistered and beaten young face upon his return from the formidable “Southern Journey”.
Wright, who collected data on a variety of technical issues while in the Antarctic, was only one of a gaggle of scientists recruited for the expedition. But again, he was possibly the one who used his experience for greatest impact essentially founding the field of glaciology, the multidisciplinary study of ice and its environment that has defined how humans survive and function in cold climates over the past century.
Wright, who became Sir Charles and received many honours prior to this death in 1975, was well known within his scientific circles and highly regarded by polar adventurers during his life time. In recent decades, a broader understanding of his role in the expedition has surfaced in selected magazine articles and with the help of the publication of Silas (an edited version of Charles Wright’s diaries- the title is the enduring nickname he picked up on the journey) by Ohio State University Press. But Return to Antarctica is a distinct work. It highlights Wright’s adventures while also linking them to his personal background, placing them within the fuller context of the times, and sprinkling them with the textured group of personalities that surrounded him during those horrible months in the Antarctic. The expedition and the adventure were, of course, not all about Scott.
The book is written with affection by Silas Wright’s grandson Adrian Raeside, the long-time political cartoonist for the Victoria-Times Colonist and creator of the Other Coast comic strip. Raeside benefited from access to unique personal records, family contacts,
and a lifetime within the atmosphere of the Terra Nova story. Two of his great-uncles as well as his grandfather were key players and survivors of the expedition.
The New Zealand-born Raeside’s humour and opinions seep into the narrative, but in a light, measured way that does nothing to detract from the storyline or the authority of thIn fact, Raeside’s style gives it a more personal, visceral, and meaningful feel. Useful injections of irreverence keep the story in perspective and remind the reader that polar exploration was not entirely fuelled by selfless patriotism or the quest to expand human knowledge.
The “successful polar explorer was the rock star of the period. The lecture circuit, girls, a bigger ship, bigger girls,” Raeside explains, noting that Sir John Franklin was and is “the Elvis of Arctic explorers – and just as dead.”
It is, of course, evident that the author liked his grandfather and is proud of the personal association. But then, Silas Wright was a hard man to dislike. He was considered by Scott to be “One of the greatest successes … very thorough and absolutely ready for anything.” The Captain said of his young Canadian comrade that “Nothing ever seems to worry him” and that he could not imagine that Wright “ever complained of anything in his life.” The same was not said of the temperamental and explosive Scott whose
judgement and indulgences likely cost valuable time and lives.
While focusing on his grandfather’s role, Raeside also takes pains to ensure that the essentials of the overall Terra Nova story are covered as well as the details of the work and personalities of other individuals through notes, sidebars, and images. The book is thus eminently readable and a well referenced primer for those unfamiliar with the early era of great polar adventure. It is also an introduction to some of the science that distinguished the Scott expeditions from other explorations of the South Pole.
Fastidious students of science history might want more. For as impressive as the story of Wright’s role in the Antarctic is, his other life as a researcher and science leader might
outweigh it as raw material for another kind of book of a different kind of drama. As a student prior to his departure for the Antarctic, Wright worked on novel radiation technologies including a measuring instrument that pre-dated the patenting of the Geiger
Upon his return to Britain from the Antarctic, he and other surviving “Antartickers” were swept into World War I when Wright was introduced to military life and technical issues such as electronics and telecommunications literally in the trenches. By the time
the Second World War rolled around, he was ready to play a senior role rising to head the Royal Naval Scientific Service or, as some know it, the position of “Chief Scientist to the
British Admiralty.” From this perch, he witnessed the development of massive
technological and scientific innovation ranging from radar to coastal defence systems. The boy-man known as “Silas” thus became “Sir Charles Wright” recipient of many medals and honours, later worked for government research agencies in Canada and elsewhere before assuming post of Director of the Marine Physical Lab at the prestigious
Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California during one its most dynamic periods of growth. Raeside outlines his grandfather’s scientific and military career in his final chapter. But he might consider elaborating in another book, one about events after the return from Antarctica.
For Canadians who would like to see themselves as a people of determination and competence with a capacity for pleasantness despite adversity, Return to Antarctica makes for good and inspiring reading that will take the edge off a cold snowy evening with the knowledge that no matter how bad the driving and shovelling gets this winter it could be much worse.
[Review submitted to BC BookWorld by Dick Bourgeois-Doyle, Ottawa. Used here by permission.]