Published online: Wednesday, 15 September 2010
This interview is from Endangered Characters of Australia.
Rockhampton’s popular cartoonist
This [cartooning] is about my 30th job. My main aim was to be a professional musician. I was a roadie.. did sound work for Festival Hall, Brisbane; worked for Billy Joel, Roberta Flack, the Ritchie family. What really straightened me out was a job as a surveyor’s assistant - a chainman - as I spent lots of times in the bush with professional people who had a really balanced outlook and great understanding of our country. Excellent bush skills that taught me, bashing my way through heavy scrubland. Then I rolled into survey draughting. I came here to Rocky to a survey practice for 3 years, then 5 years ago the Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton offered me a full-time post as resident cartoonist. First time, I knocked it back ‘cause I had a nice safe job.
What motivates me each day is my readership. For every paper that’s sold, at least 3 others will read it. A circulation of 30,000, so when you add that up with the Sunshine Coast and Gladstone regional papers, it’s a lot of people. They want their local, state and national news all in one paper. I try to target not only the family but also the priests and pros. It’s a difficult market place so you have to set your sights for the cartoon somewhere in-between. I know what people who read the cartoon think, from feedback and from living in the area; what they’ll tolerate. Most regional people these days are fairly well educated so the cartoon can be fairly intellectual.
I’ve only been cartooning a fairly short period but I’ve been fortunate to have been used by the Bulletin, the Australian, Newsweek and various current affairs programmes as a representative of the cartoon world. I find that staggers me, to be picked out from about 35 major editorial cartoonists in the country
I like kids and I think they have a marvellous imagination but you can see they are being spoiled by computers and generating blood and guts and ‘cowabunga’. In my day I was quite content drawing Batman and ‘55 Chevvies but these days there’s far too much violence and it affects their thinking and judgement on things like the value of life. They will quite easily in their sketches terminate a human life. That low value for human life at an early age... I try to dispense with all that shit and get them to look at life itself... turning inert objects into live things.
I have a great love of the way of life in Queensland. I have tropical blood flowing through my veins. I think Queenslanders have their own perspective of life and how to enjoy themselves and the best asset Queensland has is its people.
Rod Emmerson is the president of the Queensland branch of the Black & White Artists Club of Austalia.