Inside cartooning: Making the most of the Liberals
I’ll be honest, I was looking for an excuse to dig up John Howard’s caricature one last time and give it a good flogging.
There’s something about the reach-for-the-sky eyebrows, go-forth-into-the-night bottom lip and mouthful-of-dental-cotton vocal lilt that as a satirist, I find irresistible.
All I needed was a reasonable context, and Tony Abbott’s ascension to the Liberal leadership provided the perfect opportunity.
The image that first came to mind when I thought about Tony Abbott as Liberal Leader was something of a prodigal son relationship with John Howard. Having always seen John Howard as a bit of a used-car salesman (apologies to Uncle Gav), the metaphor of Howard presenting the keys of the family car to his ideological heir apparent was compelling.
And from there the metaphor grew: if Kevin Rudd’s Labor were a car, for example, it might be a Toyota Prius: safe, reliable, economical and politically correct. Coincidentally, recent polling shows the wheels have started coming off the Rudd machine at about the same time as the brakes started going wonky on the Prius. In the wake of his GFC performance though, Rudd must have fancied his government for something a great deal sportier and exotic - a Ferrari perhaps.
When Tony got the jump on Malcolm Turnbull in the leadership spill, the Liberal Party was fashioning for itself the equivalent of John Howard’s trusty second-hand FE Holden. With the loyal girl in the back with the two kids – the passive and amenable one resigned to sharing the bench with the cheeky and insolent one – and the estranged ex-husband bundled into the boot, Tony was all set for his first trip around the burbs.
Whether the locals are eventually won over by Kevin’s sleek and heavily financed model, or Tony’s unadorned six-pot workhorse, remains the most interesting game in town.
Even with a library of animation-ready models to work with, it takes around 30-40 hours to produce an animation. My work begins on paper, where I consider the events playing out in the media and then sketch out a bunch of metaphorical frameworks in which to situate them. As I wrote in a previous article for The Punch, the animation’s currency when it finally reaches the viewer relies on looking to topics that reside in a weekly, fortnightly or monthly media cycle.
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