The Cartoonists Part Five

The several page article 'The Cartoonists' appeared in the weekly New Zealand Heritage magazine published in the early 1970's and eventually collected as a set of Encyclopedias.

Read The Cartoonists Part One

Read The Cartoonists Part Two

Read The Cartoonists Part Three

Read The Cartoonists Part Four

In this 1955 commentary on New Zealand's meagre contribution towards the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, Sid Scales of the Otago Daily Times shows less indulgence than Nevile Lodge towards New Zealanders' preoccupation with horse racing. The quotation is from T. L. Macdonald, Minister for External Affairs 1954-57.

Eric Heath, an admirer of the vitriolic Petty of The Australian, has asserted that New Zealanders live under a lot of umbrellas. "Anything I do that stabs people at all brings a flood of protesting letters. Readers are very sensitive, and there is a reluctance to draw such figures as the Queen or the Pope, which cartoonists in any other country can draw."

New Zealanders in the 1970s seem happier with the Giles type of man-in-the-street humorous cartoon than with hard political satire. It accords with a national character which Heath has defined as peace-loving, good-humoured, easy-going and domestic. Lodge agrees with that assessment, adding to it only an unreadiness to change unless overwhelming reasons are offered.

In this conservative, neighbourly milieu, caricature pure and simple has vanished and its use in cartoons has declined. Nor does New Zealand welcome extreme scepticism of the kind exhibited by Low in the year of his death, 1963. In such cartoons as "Man the Lord of Creation" Low seemed to be summing up a lifetime of close observation of his fellow men. The thrust was verbal rather than pictorial—but devastating. His Ten Commandments, for example, are "Don't Get Found Out" repeated 10 times. On his wall also is a house-hold motto: "Do Others Before They Do You.", A nation which expects cartoonists to be funny men might well have disowned one of its greatest sons—if it had seen his work.

Certainly cartoonists of nearly equal calibre working in New Zealand have eschewed satire in favour of a gentler, more humorous social commentary. They have performed superbly, as might be expected of men stooping slightly from higher purposes.

Caricature of himself by Les Gibbard. Reaching journeyman status under Minhinnick's tutelage on the New Zealand Herald, Gibbard in 1968 became a Political cartoonist with The Guardian (London and Manchester) and is now regarded as among Britain's best.

Sid Scales, for example: "This'll cheer you up dear—it's not real 'flu—just a viral infection." Or his teetotal fireman indignantly refusing to put out a hotel fire. Or Minhinnick's re-creation of that old tear-jerker "The Crisis", with Dr NZRU attending a fevered John Citizen at the crisis of the 1937 Springbok tour. Or Lodge's museum visitor glancing furtively around to see that no one is looking, then poking out his tongue at a Maori tiki.

Eric Heath of The Dominion comments simultaneously on two major issues, the French nuclear tests and the proposed Springbok tour.

New Zealand's cartoonists can still hit the political nail on the head, as in the August 14 1968 Minhinnick picture of the Prime Minister lustily singing hymns in church, then groping after a single coin for the collection bag—"The collection will be in aid of the United Nations work for Refugees!" What they rarely do is hit the citizen's thumb as well. It is the way New Zealanders like things to be. Their cartoonists have caught the likeness well.

2014 in Review: Aaron Christiansen

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2014?

pffffttt I`ve been rottingly slow and only got a quarter of what I wanted to get done this year in terms of comic art but Beats the Kangaroo Comics and Stories #6 is almost complete and I managed to get some strips published in Bristle Anthology #2 and Funtime Comics #27.

Other highlights have included working on the first Zinefest in Hamilton earlier this year, and well finally getting some recognition for my comic work

What are some of the comics you've enjoyed in 2014?

The Zinefest introduced me to and in some cases re-introduced me to Bristle and Wark by Brent Willis, Incredibly hot sex with hideous people by Bryce Galloway, Ant Sang's The Dharma Punks Barry Linton's Lucky Aki, Karl Wills' Princess Seppuku, Dean Ballingers Storys from Browsers, Czepta's The Prophet Rides Again, and your own The Guzumo Show and Adversaries.

For international comics I've been getting through a fat stack of Creepy`s, Eeries, and Vampirellas and Everyone is Stupid Except for Me... by Pete Bagge.

What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2014?

Has been a very family orientated year working from home and bringing up three boys

Watching our home business grow has been a fascinating experience this year just the fact that when you put your mind to getting something done and getting it out there the rewards can be incredible.

Love being independent and working for myself meaning I can take on a variety of projects during the year such as the Zinefest and tutoring music video theory and production with the music students at Tauranga Wintec

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

uh getting through a mountain of 100 or so comic pages that are roughed out and need to be inked up, a couple of kids books that have been sitting for a year or two 90% finished.

Plan on attending more of the Zinefests around New Zealand and getting a few more comics out there.

Beats The Kangaroo Comics and Stories