Like daffodils in spring, cartoonists bring delight. A favorite cartoonist's comic twist can be a good start to any day. Unsurprisingly, some cartoonists assemble fans and followers, who will look forward to what novel glimpse of life might next appear.
Through deft pen-strokes and few words in a cartoon that works, we enjoy a different take on life. We'll smile or laugh to see quirks of people or animals or situations illustrated.
But in addition to talent with drawing and words, it takes a certain courage and honesty in cartoonists to reveal to us what we might not otherwise see. Walking a tightrope of pen-strokes and language, these artists are to be valued, whether or not we agree with their every innuendo or assumption. They traverse our vision and beliefs to create at least a thought, or a chuckle, or often much more. We owe them much in return.
It's therefore with a mix of gratitude and loss that many in Australia and beyond will warmly remember Bruce Petty–cartoonist, film-maker, artist, and satirist–who passed away last week at the age of 93.
Both local and international politics, particularly in the 1960s and 70s, offered characters aplenty for his talent. These times delivered public figures and events made for a cartoonist.
Petty caricatured the adventures and personal qualities or foibles of the country's prime ministers, including Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam, and Fraser, international leaders like Johnson and Nixon in the United States, Khrushchev and Brezhnev in the Soviet Union, Mao in China, and the rise of Thatcher in the United Kingdom. He brought fresh insight to even troubling times with wiry and purposeful sketches of life's canvas.
A window into Petty's unique style and life are in the links below. His piercing wit will be missed.
_______ (2023), "Bruce Petty: a life in cartoons," The Age, April 6 https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/bruce-petty-a-life-in-cartoons-20230406-h2b3jp.html
Lindsay Foyle (2023), "Bruce Leslie Petty," South Turramurra, NSW: Australian Cartoonists Association https://www.cartoonists.org.au/stanleys/halloffame/petty_bruce