online petition reaching nearly 95,000 signatures.
Tassie has also been getting some horrendous winds. Most Tasmanians expect this sort of thing every spring, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't come as a shock when they do come.
I just threw those stories together along with some wishful thinking and, VOILA! I have a cartoon.
And now, a small rant:
The Age newspaper has sacked three of Australia's best cartoonists: Oslo Davis (who is a great guy and has had cartoons published in just about everything imaginable), Andrew Wheldon (who has cards in every newsagent in Australia - and they're usually the funniest ones you can find!), and Judy Horacek (who has been keeping the Wilderness Society afloat with sales of her t-shirt designs for at least a decade - and illustrated one of the books in Clementine's As-Soon-As-She-Grows-Out-Of-Board-Books library.)
What sort of stupidity lies behind a decision like this? I know I'm preaching to the choir here. Most people who will be reading this are more than likely already fans of the cartooning medium. But I want to take a moment to make a case for the cartoonist - because I don't want this sacking thing to become a trend.
Let's start off with the fact that a publication of any sort needs to have some kind of visual to make it palatable for the general public. Visuals, be they photos, graphs or even...cartoons, are easier for the eyes to digest than text and therefore provide a doorway for the reader to launch themselves into reading should they find the visual stimulating in some sort of respect. We've all seen those books in the library that have a plain binding and only text inside. These books have done nothing to excite the senses - no interesting typography, no decorations on the spine and definitely no illustrations. These are the books that end up stabilising wobbly tables. No one wants to read books like this unless there is some sort of specific information within its stale pages that they feel is important enough to wade through the drudgery to find.
Let's face it: publications need art.
The second observation that needs to be made is that an overabundance of a certain type of art in a publication can dull the impact of that art. Digital photography has become both a blessing and a curse to the medium. Personally, I don't think digital photos look as good as film, but that gap is closing with every new camera that comes out. The other problem that digital photography has unleashed upon the medium is that there are now billions of photos. Everywhere. And the publishing industry is saturated with them. They're cheap and easy to use whether it's in a home publication or a professional mass-media magazine. But with this convenience comes a deadening to its impact. A photo has to be much more outstanding to be memorable nowadays.
Don't get me wrong, I think photographers are essential to a newspaper or magazine. I just don't think they should be the only form of visual communication.
Cartoons, on the other hand, are still a bit of a rarity in the publication world. Sure, they're way more expensive than photos, but they add a uniqueness (and, hopefully, wit) to a publication that makes the investment worth the extra money. Look at magazines like The New Yorker and Mad Magazine. Both of these are hugely successful publications that employ the best cartoonists in the world to illustrate their covers, articles and spot cartoons. I mean, I don't even care about what's going on in New York and I still pick up the latest issue of The New Yorker to look at it whenever I'm looking at magazines.
I attribute the continued success of these magazines to their commitment to good, distinct cartoons.
So to my colleagues in cartooning (namely Oslo, Andrew and Judy), don't fret too much about being dumped. I'm sure this is just a kind of publication mid-life crisis for The Age. They'll probably come crawling back on their hands and knees when they realise how empty and dull their paper is without you. But hopefully you will have moved on, to somewhere that values your work for what it is: a beauty mark among text that people still look for with the anticipation of a kid looking for the comics in the Sunday paper.