Cartoons

My cartoons have been published in The Age, New Scientist Magazine, (Australian edition), The Alternative Law Journal, and many other books, journals and magazines. They have also been included in several exhibitions. My cartoon archive is held at the State Library of Victoria in the Pictures Collection.

But most people wouldn’t equate me with Age cartoon luminaries Peter Nicholson, Michael Leunig, or Ron Tandberg – which is why I thought it was pretty funny when The Age supplement Student Update compiled this unlikely montage in 1993. It felt like the equivalent of The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost – and me.

The reason for such flattery was that I was the author of the article about the history of cartooning in Australia that appeared in that edition of Student Update (see link above).

Few people set out to be cartoonists. In my case, it had a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time, including being in bed with the mumps at the age of nine.

A neighbour had donated a box of Disney comics and after reading them three times, I began copying them. This led to copying Snoopy cartoons, particularly during French lessons at high school and attempting to draw my own cartoons.

I loved drawing, but I wanted to be a journalist, not a cartoonist. Still, the habit persisted. My first story as a cadet journalist at Standard Newspapers in 1976 was about my HSC year and at the last minute I scrawled a drawing to go with it. I signed it CAF, because Cafarella wouldn’t fit.

It was terrible, but the editor was the encouraging type, so he published it. Soon my cartoons were appearing in all the papers, and over all the walls.

Gradually, I improved and when The Herald and Weekly Times took over Standard in 1980, they offered me $10 a cartoon, with a weekly cap of $50.

There was no opportunity to practice cartooning when I moved to The Herald later that year, but I picked up my pen again three years later when I moved to The Western Times.

I soon discovered that sometimes the cartoon ruled out the need for a story.

 After spending weeks on a story about a weight loss company that went broke, I handed in a cartoon to go with it – of a fat woman with her purse, followed by a cartoon of the same fat woman without her purse.

The sub-editor called me over and said: “Well, we can do without the story now, because the cartoon says it all.”

When I moved to The Age in 1986, I continued supplying cartoons with stories, and many of these were published. If a story fell short, being able to slot in a quick cartoon to fill the gap was a handy skill.

I was no artist, but my gags were good and I was cartooning from a feminist perspective, which was unusual at the time. In that way, I was not only making cartoons, I was making history. 

There were occasions when the male editors did not approve and some cartoons didn’t make it, or almost didn’t – including the one about the male beauty contest below.

When I began freelancing, most of my cartooning was done for journals that required a specific point to be made. 

This was not always easy, particularly when I was cartooning about Mabo or battered wife syndrome for The Alternative Law Journal, or on the effect of lightening on barbed wire for the Australian edition of New Scientist, where I provided a monthly cartoon for The Antipodes page.

Science was not my forte, and once, after a submitting a batch to the editor, Ian Anderson, he rang me and said in his usual dry manner, “Ah, Jane, thanks for those, but can you white out the trees. They don’t have trees in Antarctica.”

My ambition as a cartoonist in those days was to laugh all the way to the bank.

Drawing the line: A brief history of cartooning – and my small part in it.

Here’s a small sample of cartoons. I once had a habit of drawing a Christmas cartoon each year for my family – hence the proliferation of Santas.

See my Books section for sample of the books and journals where my cartoons have been published over the years.