I was pretty happy with this cartoon for page one of the Oz this morning, firstly because I think it works as a cartoon, but mainly on the grounds that (and I may be giving away a trade secret here) I avoided drawing what is politely described in the News Ltd art department as a “ghost digger” cartoon.
A ghost digger cartoon traditionally appears on Anzac day and involves the ghostly appearance of said digger accompanied by some sort of symbolic event like a sunrise. The ghost digger cartoon invariably rises from the grave during profound moments or tragic events and is the political cartoonist’s polite way of saying “bugger it, I’ve got nothing, here’s a picture I drew.” It doesn’t necessarily require an actual ghostly apparition in the cartoon, but will run heavily to symbolism, labelling of objects and generally a great deal of crosshatching for added gravitas.
Being a huge but much anticipated and symbolic event, Obama’s election was a clear ghost digger candidate. The obvious Obama ghost digger cartoon would naturally require the invocation of the ghostly form of the great Martin Luther King along with an appropriately poignant quote.
I suppose the labelled thought bubbles of my cartoon are kind of ghost diggery, but overall, the bullet was dodged.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the ghost digger cartoon as a last resort, in fact in the past I’ve ghost diggered with the best of them, but it’s always nice to stick a fly in the ointment if you can find one. As an editor once said to me, “You really don’t do poignant, do you Jon?”