My Mercury Cartoons

Ohhhhhh Buddy,

Where have I been? I'll tell ya where I've been: On the couch, lazing about and playing video games.

I've actually been doing more cartoons for the Hobart Mercury. I just haven't been posting them because of computer troubles. But, that is all behind me now and no longer an excuse. So, here goes a mega post of Christopher Downes cartoons. In full colour, too! I'll even make an attempt to explain the backstory for those of you who don't keep up with the local Tasmanian news. (I'm sure there are a few of you out there.)

9th October, 2010:

There is this building in Hobart called the Marine Board Building. Not much to look at. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to remember it if you ever visited here. It really is the definition of bland architecture. That is, until they built the wind turbines on top of it. Imagine, if you will, an electric mixer with four mixing attachments on it, turned upside down and spinning at full speed and you've got the idea of what the turbines looked like. Now imagine one of those turbines breaking in a high wind. Yes, breaking. It scared everyone and most of the city agreed (despite the engineers of the turbines repeatedly professing their safety measures) that maybe these turbines aren't the best thing in the world. So, it came as a bit of a shock to hear that plans were being drawn up to rebuild the turbines this February.

5th November, 2010:
This was the biggest news for this week. Everybody was watching America and wondering what would happen to it politically. This was my first and only (so far) attempt at drawing Obama. Most of my friends down here didn't get the red and blue bucket joke.

21st Novemeber, 2010:
Ok, this cartoon is one of the tougher ones to explain. First of all, you might remember that Qantas was having trouble with it's engines falling apart in midair. The second part to this joke is about the Big Four; Australia's four major banks. Wayne Swan, the Deputy Prime Minister (kind of like Aussie Vice-President), spent a long time fighting these four banks and telling them to not raise interest rates. But, they went ahead and did it anyway. Political Cartoons at this time were rampant with images of big men in business suits smoking cigars. So, I drew Mr. Swan as a pilot of a plane weighed down by its own engines, each with one of the Big Four bank logos. Kind of a metaphor for Australia itself at that time.

Funny little side story: I showed the line art of this cartoon to a work colleague of mine and he told me it would be much better if I drew Wayne Swan in the cockpit instead of "that chinese guy." Dammit, I've got to work on my caricatures.

22nd November, 2010:
One of the touristy sections of Hobart is the waterfront area. It supposedly has free wifi throughout, but the signals are weak and you've got to do some wandering to actually find a strongish connection. I started playing around with colouring type in this and a few subsequent cartoons. It doesn't exactly work as well as I wanted it to. Also, there seems to be a sailboat in the background that's sinking.

5th December, 2010:
I can't remember the guys name, but he is apparently a brilliant european city planner who was hired to find a way to repurpose Hobart's traffic. One of his ideas was to eliminate parking and traffic from one of Hobart's main attractions: Salamanca Place. Now, cue the public to go all up in arms about this. (I personally LOVE the idea.) Many people were writing in to the Mercury complaining that this change would ruin businesses in the area. Yet, every Saturday, they close off all traffic and parking in that exact area for one of the most successful outdoor markets in Australia. And it's always packed with tourists as well as locals, rain or shine, all throughout the year. Trust me on this one, I work at a store in the area.

19th December, 2010:
There's this road that cuts through the middle of Tasmania called the Midlands Highway. It's pretty much the main highway in the state. In most places, it's only two lanes and if you want to pass the lorry rumbling along in front of you, you have to usually wait for an overtaking lane. That is, unless you value passing it more than you value your own life. There are way too many deaths on this road and there are way too many markers along the way that remind you of that dark fact. So, there has always been a push to widen this well traveled bitumen. Another sight along this road is the wonderful and various selection of Australian roadkill; mostly possums and wallabies. And crows. Big brave waddling crows that aren't afraid of you or the internal combustion engine. They just pick at the latest victim and waddle a few centimetres out of the way when they see you driving by. That explains most of this cartoon. That last panel is about a Professional AFL (Aussie football) team called the Hawthorn Hawks playing a few games a year in Launceston. Something I, personally couldn't care less about.

20th December, 2010
You remember that road in the previous cartoon? Part of it goes through a town called Brighton. For reason's I'm still not sure about, they're building a bypass to go around this town. But there's a wrench in the works. Well, maybe not a wrench exactly, but an area of land filled with Aboriginal Artefacts that hold a great deal of importance to historians, archaeologists and descendants of Tasmanian Aboriginals.

27th December, 2010:
In America, the biggest shopping day is the day after Thanksgiving. In Australia it's Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Not only that, but the Sydney to Hobart race is held at this time as well. This year, the weather was rough as hell and everyone was bracing themselves for a wild journey.

If you step back from the cartoon, you can kind of see that I mirrored the composition in each panel. Kind of.

8th January, 2011:
Some scoundrels broke into the Hobart Dog's Home, a charity organisation and stole some dogs!! How low can a person get?!?! At the same time, the Mercury was also reporting a crackdown on Puppy Farms.

My only regret with this cartoon is that the dog's barking looks a bit awkward in white and confined to the hole in the fence. I should've deleted it all together.

11th January, 2011:
Tasmania's small businesses are suffering and many of them are blaming the internet!!

This was my first try at working with a limited palette. I didn't do too well. I ended up having to lighten up the background images a bit to give it some sense of depth.

15th January, 2011:
I'm sure many of you already know about the floods in Queensland. In fact, almost everywhere in Australia experience some extreme weather. Even parts of Tassie!

Well folks, that's all the cartoons that I've done so far. I've got some other things to scan in that hopefully won't be too far in the future.

Oh, and before I go, I thought I'd show you one last single panel image. Due to be published sometime in July. It's a work in progress...