Dave Elston: Canadian Sports Cartoonist Profile

For most of his career, Elston was commonly known as the only full-time editorial sports cartoonist in Canada, and he has a galaxy of autographs and framed keepsakes on display from the very same NHL personalities he was once paid to skewer.

His work appeared in Canadian newspapers, as well as The Hockey News and, for a while, as animated shorts on “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcasts. He was a two-time art-school dropout whose ability to tell a story in a single frame still makes his work instantly recognizable to readers of a certain age.

The Athlete highlights Calgary sports cartoonist Dave Elston.

In 1980, he reached out to his former high school football coach, who was an editor at the Calgary Sun, which had just recently launched. (Elston said he is 5-foot-2, and when he was a running back someone nicknamed him “The Galloping Fire Hydrant.”)

The paper gave him $25 per cartoon.

While The Athlete profile highlights his famous and prolific NHL cartoons Dave covered all the Calgary sports, which would naturally include rodeo.

Dave also became an editorial cartoonist and his gag cartoons took the form of books.

[A] favourite Elston cartoon involved Wayne Gretzky and a coach who badly misjudged his own influence behind the bench. Robbie Ftorek was coach of the Los Angeles Kings in the late 1980s, and he reduced Gretzky’s playing time, going so far as to bench The Great One for part of a game in November 1988.

McKenzie can still visualize the cartoon. Ftorek was drawn into a frame as one of the Three Wise Men, arguing as he peered into the manger: “I dunno, looks just like another baby to me.”

“It was absolutely fantastic,” said McKenzie. “It was one of the best cartoons I’ve ever seen.”

The Athlete article. Dave’s Canadian ACI entry.