Chief Librarian Chris Szekely remembers…

“The New Zealand Cartoon Archive has been responsible for some of my favourite moments as Chief Librarian over the last twelve years. When I started in the role in 2007, Ian Grant wasted no time in seeking me out to apprise me of the Archive’s significance. It was an easy sell. Clearly the Archive plays a valuable role as a research resource. I congratulate the Guardians for the role they have played in promoting the resource through publications, exhibitions and special events, and pay tribute to the many cartoonists who have contributed their work as a research legacy. “Personal highlights include the exhibitions: ‘Having a Ball’ (2011), ‘Next in Line’(2013) and ‘Ludicrous Likenesses’ (2017). The latter was staged at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery and marked the Archive’s 25th anniversary. On the publications front, among the many fine books produced, a standout for me is Savaged to Suit (2018) partly because of the subject matter (Maori in cartoons), and partly because it was written by the Library’s Curator, Maori, Paul Diamond as part of his role on staff. “There have been many events and initiatives. I found the following to be particularly special: The ‘Cartooning for Peace’ event in Wellington 2008, the Cartoon Archive assisting the Alliance Francaise, and foreshadowing the Charlie Hebdo murders of 2015. The partnership with the NZ Listener to run a young cartoonists competition in 2013 proved that there is no shortage of new generation cartooning talent. Steve Bell, the cartooning sasquatch (self-named) from The Guardian delivered a brilliantly entertaining session to a packed audience in 2017. “None of these activities could have taken place or been so successful without the support the Guardians, chaired by Archive founder, Ian Grant. Although I am a little bereft in the knowledge that the group is disbanding and Ian is stepping back from an active role, it is incumbent on me to say thank-you to all concerned for so many years of excellent active service and contribution. “As the Alexander Turnbull Library enters its centenary year, we look forward to continuing to work closely with New Zealand cartoonists above and beyond the editorial focus, and to opening the door more widely to the sister sector of comic artists and writers.”