media140 guest editor Neerav Bhatt recently interviewed Australian political cartoonists Jon Kudelka and First Dog on The Moon in the run up to the media140 Oz Politics conference. The following is an excerpt of that interview.
Political cartoons (also known as editorial cartoons) are one of the most powerful parts of the news media because they’re capable of dissecting complex issues, pointing out the elephant in the room and ridiculing powerful figures in society far more succinctly than a political journalist can using hundreds or even thousands of words.
According to the Australian Culture Portal:
Australia has a strong and vibrant history of political cartooning. Since the 1830s, when political cartoons were first featured in Australian newspapers, they have provided satirical, witty or humorous comment on political and public affairs, social customs, fashions, sports events and personalities.
A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words, and political cartoons and caricatures have traditionally been a devastating method of cutting the powerful and the proud down to size.
Two of my favourite Australian political cartoonists are cartoonist for Crikey.com.au First Dog on The Moon (whose human representative is Andrew Marlton) and Jon Kudelka freelancer for several Australian News Corporation newspapers.
Neerav Bhatt: First Dog On the Moon please tell readers about yourself? Were you really a call centre manager before joining Crikey?
First Dog On the Moon: Yes I was. I have a deep and abiding passion for call centres. They are the evolutionary peak of capitalism. Also, they can be really sh*t places to work unless you avoid work by becoming the call centre manager. The thing I enjoyed most about them was the machines and the systems. I love a good realtime graph. And there is nothing like a well set up PABX. Nothing.
Neerav Bhatt: Jon I know you currently sell cartoons to The Australian, The Hobart Mercury and The Sunday Telegraph. What’s your background besides liking coffee and being mostly left handed? Unlike Andrew you don’t feature yourself as a character in your published cartoons. Are there any cartoons or illustrations in your archive that tell your tale best?
Jon Kudelka: That cartoon pretty much sums up cartoonists, except we don’t wear ties. My backstory is much less exciting than Mr Dog’s. I got a degree in science, did science a favour and became a cartoonist, the rest is history. The only other job I’ve ever had was picking apples, but everyone in Tasmania does that.
Neerav Bhatt: Which of your cartoons do you feel has made the most impact?
First Dog On the Moon: It depends on what you mean by impact. The one I drew when my cat died, probably illicited the most emotional response I ever got. The one about Bad Parking Girl got a huge response too, everybody hated bad parking girl. The Death of Capitalism remains a favourite for loads of people, I still sell quite a few t-shirts of that one.
Jon Kudelka: I am constantly shocked and dismayed by the consistent lack of wholesale political resignations upon publication of my work. These people have no shame.
When you’re knocking out nine or ten a week it’s best to treat the whole thing as a conversation and keep your mind on what you’re going to say next, but I did like Welcome to Brendan probably because it won an award. Awards are lovely.
First Dog On the Moon is the Guest Cartoonist in Residence at today’s media140 Oz Politics conference being held in Canberra, Australia.
Read more of Neerav Bhatt’s interview of Australian political cartoonists Jon Kudelka and First Dog on The Moon.