This Creative Life No.2 – July 2014

Posted on: July 29, 2014

In which the cartoonist ponders the inhumanity of human to human and how to make cartoons about it.


I have often said that I became a cartoonist to try and change the world. I mean this as a true statement, but also as a slightly tongue-in-cheek one. Much as I would like cartoons to be all-powerful – to believe that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and the missile and the drone – well, just take a look at the world…

What the ‘change-the-world’ statement boils down to is that I became a cartoonist because I care deeply about certain things such as social justice, feminism, the environment. These are the things I like to make cartoons about. Of course I also do silly jokes that are about nothing, but my first love is making cartoons commenting on our society and our world.


Too shy to get behind a megaphone to try to rally the crowds, too thin-skinned to go into politics – drawing cartoons was the best option I had to have my say. I hope that on some occasions my work has made people think. Perhaps some people have even come to see something differently through the way it is presented. And even if they have never changed anything at all, even if my cartoons are only preaching to the converted, as the saying goes, well, as another saying goes, the converted need temples to pray in too.

What this means of course is that I am often trying to do cartoons about issues that are far from funny. The issue of refugees and asylum seekers for example.


For a long time now Australian politics has been a race to the bottom in regard to the issue of refugees and asylum seekers. Both major parties are implicated in this – in their cynical and cruel use of the lives of other people for their own political gain. Reducing complex situations to simple slogans, creating monsters where none should exist, deliberately creating an atmosphere of fear and danger. Somehow (and I don’t know how they do this) managing to completely ignore the sufferings of people with whom we share our planet. Politics has become about winning at all costs, saying whatever you feel you need to say, regardless of truth or responsibility or international obligations.

And of course, it isn’t only about the politicians, it’s about our own silence about what is being done in our name.  I have done some cartoons, which is something, but I am not pretending that is anywhere near enough.


The cartoons on this page are from a variety of places – my small weekly cartoon in Monday’s Age – predominantly an apolitical spot towards the back of the newspaper; ‘spot’ cartoons from the Letters page in the Australian where I worked weekly for a number of years; ‘editorial’ cartoons from the Age where I have filled in over summer for the last couple of years (when the staff cartoonists go on holidays).


I am proud of these cartoons for what they say, and the way they say it. But it will be a great day when these cartoons look anachronistic, when they belong to an almost incomprehensible past like pictures featuring slaves or convicts. When the cartoons no longer represent what continues to happen, and what seems to get worse and worse, and are merely reminders of a cruel shameful time in Australian history.

Bring on the time when these cartoons are out of date!





  1. Sonia Ewald , says:

    Thanks for adding a bit of conscience to our complacent world

  2. Sonia Ewald , says:

    thank you for adding a bit of conscience to our complacent existence.

  3. Jill Barker , says:

    You could just skip a month and do your cartoon on the last day of every month instead of the first. (or do two in the first month??)

    I read your prose and I read your cartoons. Are you sure you really need to say that stuff – describing what you care about, your doubts about the world’s capacity to hear you? I think it’s all there in your cartoons anyway.

    Re preaching to the converted: many of us are quite isolated. Your work gives us a sense of solidarity, of belonging. And it cheers us to believe that the backwash of right wing stupidity isn’t really winning.

  4. Henry Porter , says:

    Can I vote for you in the next election, please?

  5. Marg , says:

    I love your work Judy, I think rather than preaching to the converted, what your cartoons do is give us comfort. They show us that we are not alone and you say in a picture what would take many words. And maybe they do cause others to look at issues differently, keep up the good work!

  6. Christina Free , says:

    I believe you have had some correspondence with my husband. I just want to add my congrats and encouragement to continue trying to bash “them” over the head. Sadly I think you are right – you are, in the main, preaching to the converted but on the basis that you never know, keep it up. It certainly is more than time.

  7. Rose , says:

    I just wanted to say that we have your kid’s books in the library system that I work for, and that I read them to the kids as often as I can. My favorite is Where is the Green Sheep – but we love them all.

    Keep up the Good work. Keep up the bad work too, what the hell.


  8. Nancy Earth , says:

    Thanks so much, Judy, for speaking out. Cartoons DO have the power to influence and your compassionate voice is MUCH appreciated. Keep up the courageous work. You are inspiring to all!

  9. Veronica wensing , says:

    These are great Judy and DO make us think. Keep up your great work and contributions for a better world. It works.

  10. Patricia , says:

    Thanks, Judy. My hope springs from the fact that you can draw cartoons about
    the (too) many things that are going disturbingly wrong with our society.
    There are good, thinking people everywhere I just wish we could show more strength and overt action!

    Hang in there, Judy.

  11. Shirley , says:

    What an amazing contribution you have made dear Judy – strength to you

  12. Mary Heath , says:

    I, too, hope that your cartoons on this subject will one day look shocking and out of date. In the meantime, thanks for expressing so wonderfully what I think and feel about this topic.

  13. ben , says:

    Great cartoons as always Judy.



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