A great cartoon is like an excellent wine
A great cartoon is like an excellent wine.
First, there is the colour and form of the pen strokes. Then, as the cartoon enters the consciousness, comes a rush of recognition and waves of understanding; a laugh out-loud or perhaps a sharp intake of breath with a wince of discomfort or a sigh of despair or a nod of agreement.
Sometimes the taste buds get a little confused and flicker between horror and humour. Then comes the after-taste; sometimes spicy, bitter or sweet; sometimes a truth that’s bitter-sweet.
When, finally digested, there is often the rewarding flavour of shared humanity (the smile of oneness).
In comparison, the printed words are black and white, rational and impartial. Unlike the reporter, the cartoonist has liberty. With a stroke of a pen, he or she can subvert the so-called truth or fact in the adjacent newsprint and shine light on the absurd, the self-important and double standards.
In Switzerland we adore Chapatte, Zep, Mix and Remix to name but a few.
Michael Leunig is an Australian cartoonist. He is also what Australians call ‘a national living treasure’ – someone who has made an outstanding contribution to Australian society.
Leunig’s vision of the role of a cartoonist reads like a manifesto.
The true cartoonist is a moral philosopher who compulsively and dutifully challenges and resists the powerful, the victorious, the dominant, the fashionable, the well-heeled, the well-established and the well-armed; and in so doing, upholds the importance of the powerless, the vulnerable, the voiceless outsiders, of nature and many improbable or neglected ideas.
A good healthy cartoon is drawn from conscience and must be strong, spicy and controversial; it will often hurt, offend, disgust and cause trouble because it may touch upon negative matters such as human darkness or the neurotic defences, psychological wounds and sore points and emotional sicknesses in society.
It holds up a mirror to us which is sometimes funny, sometimes painful and often quite perplexing but the hope is that ultimately it is therapeutic.
Sit back. Make yourself a cup of tea or pour yourself a glass of wine. Turn off the merry madness of Christmas for a few minutes. This is the world of Leunig:
You can discover more on the Leunig website. The cartoons are published with the permission of Leunig.