My year with the Princess Warrior

Mary Walsh kept me very busy in 2017 with creative projects

2017 was a year of career first for me – first time working on a logo/title sequence for a feature film; first time creating illustrations for a short story; first time designing a book cover for a novel; first time creating the branding for a touring theatric play; first time developing animations for a comedy sketch series; and first time developing a logo for a film company… the best part was all of these first were brought to me by one client.

I first met Mary Walsh in 2001 while living in Halifax. She was starring in her hit TV series This Hour Has 22 Minutes and I was the best of friends with her personal assistant. We spent a fair bit of time together for a couple years until my friend took another job and Mary hired a new personal assistant. Mary would let me come over on Wednesday nights so her PA and I could watch Survivor, a show Mary wasn’t in to, but she always looked forward to Oz, the HBO prison drama that came on after a Survivor had been voted out.

Years went by where I hadn’t run in to Mary, we both had moved back to St. John’s full time, but our paths hadn’t crossed – that was until Steve Harper was running for re-election in 2015 and she was looking for some help creating the campaign ‘Marg Brings Change’. Mary’s comedic warrior character, Marg Delahunty, was going to do all she could to bring some ‘cents’ back to Ottawa (the campaign’s main goal was to get folks out to vote).

I enlisted my buddy Mike Rizkalla to help with programming, and girlfriend Krista Power to make animations. We launched Marg Brings Change and had a ton of fun making little videos, posters, animations and doing our best to cause a stir nationally.

Keeping it in the family, we even enlisted Krista’s cousin Mark Rowe to shoot and edit a video in Calgary when Marg went there to find Steve at his constituency office.

Jump ahead, a year later…

It’s Fall 2016 and I get a call from Mary – she has written her first novel and is very excited! Mary is always reading and is a huge supporter of Canada’s literary scene. A few years back she hosted her own weekly TV series in the format of Oprah’s Book Club called Mary Walsh: Open Book, and all her life had longed to write her own novel. Mary asked me to design the cover for her new book, Crying For The Moon, and I couldn’t have been any more excited.

She had another amazing project that needed to be done at the same time: she was looking for an illustrator to whip-up 12-15 drawings for a short story describing her perspective growing up as a Newfoundander in Canada. The illustrations were to be animated with music by folks at the BC National Film Board, creating an interactive web project. I was booked up solid with projects until the end of the year, but had never worked on jobs like these and didn’t want to see either project slip away. Mary agreed to let me start in January. Little did I know at the time that these two jobs would be the start an exciting year of Mary Walsh design projects.


I start the new year reading the manuscript for Crying For The Moon, while simultaneously coming up with concepts for the short story piece. In the end I created around 25 separate illustrations for the web piece, titled “It Mighty Break Your Heart”. I was stressed because 25 completed illustrations was more than I usually make in a year, sometimes I don’t make that many in 2 years… but these had to be done in less than a month and I wasn’t about to miss a deadline. I focused on trying to complete one a day, and on occasion even achieved that goal. I was finding it hard to find time to sit and read Mary’s novel, however, while working on illustrations, so I used a voice-reader program to read the story aloud like an e-book while I worked on illustrations. About half the illustrations I made weren’t used, but I didn’t mind as telling the full story visually was part of my process – you didn’t know which would be the best ones to illustrate the story, so the more the merrier.

Image on the left was used; the one on the right was not

Click here to view the completed
It Might Break Your Heart project

Crying For The Moon is an amazing story – a tale of a young woman coming into her own due to a tragic set of circumstances. There are twists and turns, lots of humour, intrigue, suspense, disfunction and more. I came up with a series of sketches for Mary and her publisher. They were split between two of the sketches, so I worked up nearly completed covers for both. They chose the winning cover and we were off to print.

The book was published in hard cover and soft cover, critics seemed to really enjoy it and Mary told me that she received many compliments on the cover art during her book tour.

I designed the full book jacket, and since the story is split between St. John’s and Montreal, I represented Montreal in an illustration on the back cover:

After its release Harper Collins asked me to design another cover, this time for Jeremy Taggart and Jonathan Torrens’ new project Canadianity (also available now).

Canada, It’s Complicated

No sooner did the book cover go to print then Mary invited me to help create the look for a play she was working on with a team of incredible writers that would tell the true story of Canada’s history. The play was going to tour nearly 50 cities/towns across the country, a tour that would take 3 months to complete. Here was the challenge, the play didn’t have a title yet, and hadn’t been written yet, but the imagery was needed immediately as things were behind and needed to get moving.

I thought a lot about what made Canada “Canada” and what one image would represent the whole country – turns out that image doesn’t exist. A maple leaf sure, but it doesn’t represent our unique cultures, geography, industries, seasons and personalities. I don’t think there is any one image that could accurately represent us all. So I chose to pitch a poster that was chock full of smaller images. Icons that represented the best and worst of Canadian stereotypes. My first draft represented our favourite sports, tim hortons, wayne gretzky, david suzuki, our wildlife, superman, french culture and our first nations communities. My thoughts were we could add or remove images once the play was written to represent specific themes in the writing. With my friend Mark Bennett, we created a tour website and it all launched in time to get tickets on sale before the show hit the road. I attended the St. John’s show and while I had a great time (the show was really entertaining and funny), I also learned a lot. The final title, “Canada, It’s Complicated”, summed up very well the tone of the play. While most of the world think Canada is a great place full of kind people, we have a terrible track record of taking care of our own and those who were here before us. This was an exciting project to work on and I’m sure the show sparked many important conversations across the country.

You can view the entire Canada, It’s Complicated show in the embedded video below
(filmed by Tyler Warren Ellis).

At some point I realized there had never been an official Mary Walsh website. How does one of our national treasures have a career this illustrious and no one has ever made them a proper website. Mary agreed to let me take a stab at it. Nothing too crazy, the site is clean and classy, a central location where you can get the basics on Mary’s career to date. We listed of all her movies, TV shows, her book, info about her comedy career, activism, photos, video and more. I enlisted by buddy, and often collaborator Mark Bennett to help and in no time we launch a new website at

Christmas Hipsters

Another of Mary Walsh’s fun 2017 projects was the resurrection of her hit TV series Hatching, Matching & Dispatching which aired initially in 2006. A Christmas Fury is a full length film Mary had written with Ed Macdonald. I got the call from someone involved in casting asking if I would be interested in being an extra for a scene – I said sure and she responded “Great, we’re looking for some hipsters and figured you’d be perfect.”… They asked if I knew some others that would be interested. I laughed and told them they might not want to call these folks ‘hipsters’ as that term is usually used to make fun of people, it has a negative connotation, so if you want to recruit people you might not want to make fun of them right out of the gate. They laughed, agreed, and I showed up on set and the word “hipster” wasn’t used anywhere, although when I looked at myself and the other extras I was grouped with, we definitely all fit a certain description. ;^)

So there I was, my feature film debut, last minute shopping on Christmas Eve in one of the film’s scenes.

A couple months later I was asked if I would be interested in designing the film’s logo and opening title sequence. Totally excited, I set to the task of designing a logo and got my friend James March involved to help animate titles – something he had a hell of a lot more experience with than I did.

I was invited to a viewing of an early cut of the movie at the NIFCO offices, and expecting a big crowd I was surprised when it turned out the viewing was just going to be myself, Mary, and the film’s producer. I could tell when an important scene was coming up, in my peripheral vision I could see Mary watching me rather than the film screen, obviously checking to see how I would react to the upcoming scene. :^) I enjoyed the movie a lot, so many good laughs.

A couple weeks before A Christmas Fury was set to air the film’s producer was in a panic to get a logo for Mary Walsh’s production company, Torbay Ponies, to place in the credits at the end of the film. They needed it immediately so I hung up the phone and went straight to work. Often times clients act as if they just want a quick logo, no pressure, and in the end those jobs usually turn out to be nightmares… so I was a little scared. You want to give the design the proper attention to do a great job (I wrote a blog recently about the process of designing a great logo and all the steps folks don’t consider, you can view that here if you like). Luckily I had discussed a logo design with Mary a few weeks earlier, we just hadn’t started yet, so this rush job was a good kick in the ass to get it done. I sent along my first logo and received an email from Mary a half hour later saying she loved it. Wow. Fastest approval ever, and my sixth project for Mary Walsh in 2017. What a productive year we’re having!

Its not over yet… turns out Mary and Cathy Jones filmed a web series featuring their hugely popular characters Mrs Enid and Mrs Eulalia, the two older ladies walking around discussing whats wrong with the world while giving practical life advice we could all use. The characters were first introduced on This Hour Has 22 Minutes a couple decades ago and have gone on to become favourites nationwide. The web series was titled “Living with E’s” and essentially featured our ladies giving practical advice to young folk while poking fun at many of today’s lifestyle trends. They needed a logo to appear at the beginning of the videos. I dropped my buddy Benjy Kean a line to help with animating the logo I came up with, and boom, project seven for Mary Walsh was completed. The series started showing up online in November and to date has received more than 5 million plays.

And there you have it – my year with the Princess Warrior, Mary Walsh. It was exciting to spend a year on seven diverse projects for one client. Mary Walsh is an incredible talent, a creative force, an ambassador for our province and country, a hilarious comic and writer, a strong activist, and I’m proud to say, a friend.

I look at the work we did together and can’t help but reflect that this was only a portion of what her year entailed. Not knowing her full schedule by any means, but I remember seeing that she hosted the Scotiabank Giller Prize Awards, Marg Delahunty came back to take on Toxic Masculinity, she was a keynote speaker at Toronto’s Top Ten event with Jane Fonda, and also keynote speaker at Toronto’s Canadian Labour Conference, performed at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, read at numerous Writers’ Festivals as part of her national book tour, was a spokesperson for Bell’s Lets Talk campaign, presented at the Canadian Screen Awards, and got the country’s hottest new haircut! Mary – what an honour it was this year playing a small role in your creative journey.

2018 here we come!

About the Author

Jud Haynes is an illustrator, graphic designer and musician living in St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada)

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