For nearly 20 years, Michael de Adder has made a living as a professional cartoonist.

But just one day after a controversial drawing of US president Donald Trump went viral on social media, his contract was terminated.

Mr de Adder, from New Brunswick in Canada, took a swipe at Mr Trump through his drawing, which showed the leader standing by a golf buggy alongside the bodies of a man and young girl.

In the cartoon, the President asks them, "Do you mind if I play through?"

It is a confronting reference to El Salvador migrant Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria, who drowned last week in the Rio Grande while attempting to cross the Mexico-US border.

Mr de Adder shared the drawing on Twitter on June 27, the same day the news of the migrants' deaths broke.

Michael de Adder has been a professional cartoonist for almost two decades. Picture: Twitter/Michael de Adder
Michael de Adder has been a professional cartoonist for almost two decades. Picture: Twitter/Michael de Adder

It immediately went viral, amassing thousands of retweets, likes and comments.

But the drawing never made it to print.

Instead, within 24 hours, Mr de Adder's contract with four Canadian publications - the Moncton Times Transcript, Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Telegraph-Journal and Telegraph Journal Saint John - was terminated.

All four are owned by Brunswick News Inc, a company privately owned by billionaire businessman James K Irving.

The company released a statement today denying Mr de Adder was stood down over the Trump cartoon.

"It is entirely incorrect to suggest Brunswick News Inc cancelled its freelance contract with cartoonist Michael de Adder due to a cartoon depicting Donald Trump currently circulating on social media," the statement reads.

"This is a false narrative which has emerged carelessly and recklessly on social media. In fact, BNI was not even offered this cartoon by Mr de Adder.

"The decision to bring back reader favourite Greg Perry was made long before this cartoon, and negotiations had been ongoing for weeks."

Mr de Adder weighed into the controversy over a series of tweets, confirming the termination on June 29 and revealing it "hurts pretty bad", but also vowing he "will survive".

Cartoonist Michael de Adder’s freelance contract with four newspapers was terminated after this drawing went viral on social media. Picture: Twitter/Michael de Adder
Cartoonist Michael de Adder’s freelance contract with four newspapers was terminated after this drawing went viral on social media. Picture: Twitter/Michael de Adder

"I'm not the type of person who's going to make a career out of being fired. I'm still successfully drawing cartoons for other publications. I just need to recoup a percentage of my weekly income and get used to the idea I no longer have a voice in my home province," he wrote in one tweet.

"BTW: I'm not a victim. I just finished a book, that will be out in September and I still freelance for some amazing newspapers. It's a setback not a deathblow," he said in another.

However, many social media users are convinced Mr de Adder lost his contract as a result of the Trump cartoon.

Last month, the New York Times sensationally pulled all political cartoons in response to an outcry over an April depiction of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which was branded "anti-Semitic".

The paper made a public apology and responded by banning all political cartoons moving forward, meaning longtime political cartoonist Patrick Chappatte - who didn't even create the Netanyahu drawing - was out of a job.

Mr de Adder took aim at that scandal in a cartoon he drew earlier this month, and said he now can't tell if it was "irony or coincidence".

Mr de Adder's case has attracted global attention, with Star Wars actor Mark Hamill labelling his Trump cartoon as "Pulitzer Prize-worthy" and George Takei from Star Trek describing it as "heartbreakingly accurate".

Meanwhile, others - including fellow political cartoonist Wes Tyler - said Mr de Adder's termination was "no coincidence".

In a statement posted to Facebook, Mr Tyler said claimed the Irving family had "considerable corporate interests in the United States" and that Donald Trump was one of a series of "taboo subjects" Mr de Adder and other employees "could not touch" as a result.

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