Most Montrealers wince when they come across traffic cones. They’ve come to symbolize corruption and neglect, they’ll hamper your commute, and it often feels as though you can’t turn a street corner without getting stuck in an endless cone zone.
Local illustrator Tania Mignacca is hoping that with Ponto, the optimistic traffic cone who only wants to redirect us safely, Montrealers will come to see those little orange nuisances in a more positive light.
“I recalled a discussion I had with friends where we pointed out how we used to love orange cones when we were kids, but now with the city falling apart everyone seems to hate them,” Mignacca says. “That gave me the idea to create an orange cone character that would be too adorable to hate.”
Mignacca conceived the Ponto character last year — inspired by Japanese city mascots, called “Yuru-kyara” — and started the weekly bilingual webcomic in January. Every Wednesday, a new chapter is added in Ponto’s ongoing journey from idealistic small town cone from somewhere along Highway 30 to living out his dreams in the big city.
“I wanted the webcomic to be humorous but more on the cute and innocent side rather than the dark and negative humour we are used to in Quebec,” Mignacca says. “I’m trying to give the point of view of orange cones if they could talk. When you think about it, they’re kind of stuck between frustrated citizens, construction companies and the government. They’re only trying to do their job and keep us safe.”
So far, Ponto has gained a few friends, from surly, unionized cones to the Turcot Interchange itself, re-imagined as a wise old giant. Once enough comics have been drawn, Mignacca aims to release a Ponto book, and she recently started making Ponto keychains and plush toys.
“I think it’s funny that I’m doing a webcomic about road creatures and infrastructures and I don’t drive,” Mignacca says. “I was born visually impaired and I will never be able to drive, so I rely on public transportation most of the time. That’s why I have a zen attitude towards all the construction madness. I think if I could drive I would probably be as frustrated as everyone else.” ■
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