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Category Archives: Cartoonists

 

Workshop participants.jpg

Cartoons – 3 second stories, my workshop at The Story Conference, at the University of Melbourne, November 23-25. The conference theme was ‘Influencing cultural change, one story at a time’.

Cartoons tell a compact story in 3-4 seconds of a reader’s time. Using that short opportunity is the cartoonist’s challenge. The aim of my workshop was to have participants produce their own cartoon poster to express to the rest of the conference community their thoughts about an issue that was important to them.

The workshop was in two parts. First I explained what I think are some of the principles that make an effective cartoon, how they help a cartoon connect with the reader and, using that connection, spark ideas in the reader’s head. Armed with this preparation  participants then worked on developing ideas and drawing up their cartoon posters. These were put up on walls for others at the conference to see – and be influenced by!

Cartoons do have the ability, either gently or provocatively, to get their readers to question their attitudes. This questioning is an ingredient in cultural change.

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Here is an interview about this cartoon:

http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/the-cartoon-that-sums-up-the-worlds-migrant-crisis–g12atJpSWZ

The cartoon first appeared in Australian Options magazine – discussions for social justice and political change – which is celebrating its 20th year of publication! I have drawn cartoons for every issue.

Bruce Petty 5-2-15 LR photo

When I started cartooning last century I didn’t know any cartoonists but I did have two books of cartoons – they were my guides. One was a collection of Michael Leunig’s cartoons, the other was of Bruce Petty’s.

Last night Bruce Petty presented the keynote address to the  21st Australasian Humour Studies Network Annual Conference here in Adelaide. It was a real treat. He described – and drew – the last 50 years of cartooning, thought, life, and everything, and how our brains have tried to keep up … and our imagination has been battered in the process. The photo shows Bruce Petty with the drawing he produced showing how the cartoonist fits into it all.

Bruce was a panelist in the earlier session, which discussed humour in relation to the Charlie Hebdo murders. It was a valuable discussion about the role of cartoons and refreshed many questions. Cartoons work because they cross lines, but (for me) do you cross lines because they are there, or because there is something to be said from crossing certain lines? (That is simplifying it a bit too much perhaps). Can you claim selective context in a multicultural and globalised world? And why would you?

The conference information quoted Shakespeare (Love’s labour’s Lost):

A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear /Of him that hears it, never in the tongue /Of him that makes it                                                                                                 

Ah, this strikes a chord. When I have given cartooning classes I have asked kids to think about what they want to happen in their reader’s heads – and then work back. I think it is a good guide.