Since 1863 the OpEd cartoon in the NZ Herald has always been drawn by a man…
until I had five cracks at it beginning on the 12th of April – five Tuesday spots taking over from the wonderful Rod Emmerson – giving him a much-needed break in the week.
I’ve drawn cartoons and illustrations for the NZ Herald for eight years – but this gig was different, and tough - one chooses one’s own topic, one has to be punchy and ethically careful at the same time, one has to be fast and meet short deadlines. I draw with an old-fashioned dip pen still, which is not a fast tool at all.
For three days or more before each Monday of actually sitting down at my desk and meeting the 5 o’clock deadline with ready artwork for the Tuesday paper, I was consumed by news – Stuff/Herald/Guardian/Bernard Hickey and more, I’ve never been so flooded with topical information - a confusing overload. What’s important? What’s entertaining? What’s the zeitgeist?
I know over time if I’d carried on, and if they continued to want me it all would have become easier – I’d have figured it out, I’d have bought a Wacom and become a digital whiz but I decided, after five Tuesdays, that I must call Rod and tell him “I have so much other stuff on and it’s all a bit too consuming”. So I let this amazing opportunity go, and the worst thing is I let the (female) side down.
I have such admiration for editorial cartoonist Sharon Murdoch of the Dominion Post, three-time winner of Cartoonist of the Year. I hope there’s another Sharon Murdoch out there who will one day punch satirical holes on the NZ Herald OpEd page.
Now there’s a guy doing Tuesdays – he’s good, and I imagine he’s a whole lot faster than me.