caryma sad

Toronto lawyer creates humorous comics to highlight issues of the day

Caryma Sa'd may spend most of her days working hard as a lawyer in Toronto, but she also manages to find time to create humerous yet poignant editorial comics that make a statement about current issues.

Sa'd's cartoons address a number of different subjects, and one of her latest pieces is about the current legal fight going on between the City of Toronto and Khaleel Seivwright — the carpenter who's been building tiny insulated shelters for those experiencing homelessness.

"Comics are my preferred medium to offer commentary about current events," Sa'd told blogTO. 

"It's my way of chronicling and analyzing the world as I see it, with a touch of comedy. My objective is to prompt critical thought about established power structures that exacerbate injustice and inequality by pointing out absurdities."

The lawyer said she first started making editorial cartoons in 2019, but she's been incorporating comics and illustration into her work for more than a decade now.

Her first experience combining law and comics, she said, was during the summer between her undergrad and first year of law school when she interned with the Human Rights Law Network in Mumbai and designed and illustrated a guide to domestic violence legislation.

"I indulged this passion for comics from day one of my legal career," she said.

Sa'd explained that she draws inspiration for the cartoons from a combination of things, such as what interests her and what's trending or newsworthy at that particular time. 

When conceptualizing the comics, she said she tends to lean towards discussing what she knows best, including her main areas of practice: housing, cannabis and criminal law.

She also frequently touches on municipal, provincial and federal politics in her pieces, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford in particular making frequent appearances in the cartoons.

And while her busy schedule doesn't always allow her to be consistent with publishing comics on a particular timeline, Sa'd said producing these cartoons is what she does for fun, and she makes a concerted effort to make time for the things she enjoys. 

It also helps that she doesn't do it alone. The lawyer calls herself the artistic director of the comics, as she conceptualizes the storyboards, the imagery and she also writes the captions.

"I am fortunate to collaborate with a talented illustrator who brings my ideas to life," said Sa'd, who refrained from revealing the identity of the illustrator. "Each comic is customized and planned down to the smallest detail."

She also said working on the comics provides some relief from the day-to-day struggles of her job.

"I deal with lots of lousy situations in my day job as a lawyer," she said. "Don't get me wrong — I enjoy helping individual clients resolve their specific problems. But my work doesn't fix the underlying systemic issues. It gets disheartening to observe the status quo, which benefits some people at others' expense."

But Sa'd said she does get her fair share of vitriol from people who disagree with her perspectives. And while she has no issue with respectful disagreements, she said occasionally people cross the line.

"It's all good though — they may think it's a deterrent," said Sa'd, "but actually I get fueled by the haters."

For the most part, she said the reactions are generally pretty positive, and the most frequent feedback she receives is that people learn about issues they may otherwise not have known about or explored.

"They say, 'If you don't laugh, you'll cry," Sa'd told blogTO. "This has certainly been my experience. I use humour to process and cope with the harsh realities of life."

Lead photo by

Caryma Sa'd

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