Quotable Quotes

“A good cartoon can convey, at a glance, a wealth of information; it can epitomise an idea better than a thousand words; it is remembered when words are forgotten; it is instant enlightenment.”
Sir John Marshall, NZ Prime Minister 1972. John Marshall Memoirs, Vol. One, 1912-1960, 1983.
“The cartoonist, given that special licence granted over the centuries, can say things others only dare whisper.”
David English, editor of Britain’s Daily Mail, in Quiplash 9, 2002.
“History suggests that cartoonists – who often deal savagely with politicians and others – are relatively safe. … A cartoon is, after all, an analogy and cartoonists are generally on safe ground as long as they express genuine opinions … Cartoonists should continue to ply their important trade comforted by the fact that it is difficult for a plaintiff to prove that the content of a cartoon is not a genuinely held opinion. … When I was in politics, cartoonists used to draw me as an Easter Island statue, but neither I nor, as far as I know, the Easter Island authorities contemplated legal action.”
Sir Geoffrey Palmer, NZ Prime Minister 1989-1990, speaking at Cartoonists’ Convention, Wellington, 2001.
“There is growing acceptance of the importance of cartoons: they capture the unofficial values and attitudes of the time, providing a street level view of the world, not a high-rise bureaucratic perspective, or a corridors of power slant, and certainly not an ivory tower, academic assessment.”
Ian F. Grant, Between the Lines: A cartoon history of New Zealand political and social history, 1906-2005, 2005.
“Why is it that political cartoons, these ephemeral, inevitably quickly conceived and executed comic drawings, are so highly valued by newspaper editors and readers? Part of the answer may be in the tradition … that the views of the cartoonist may differ widely from those expressed more formally elsewhere in the newspaper. From this particular freedom given to, or seized by, the cartoonist, cartoons derive a large part of their strength. … Political cartoons are not so much rapier thrusts … as they are missiles, which although quite small, carry at least three explosive war-heads. First, caricature – the humorously or maliciously distorted representation of politicians; second, the actual political comment, criticism or stance communicated in the drawing; and third, the vehicle or image chosen to convey the political point. When brought together, at its best the effect is formidable. The apparent joke can contain a reverberating, subversive power.”
Nicholas Garland, English cartoonist, lecture, National Library, Wellington, 1998.
“There may have been the impression that we are forever trying to be funny. In fact, in holding up their particular kind of mirror, cartoonists are quite as likely to be reflecting the anger, dismay or grief their fellow citizens are feeling as they are indulging a taste for disrespectful frivolity. They may be dealing with themes of death and loss and pain as well as more cheerful aspects of contemporary life. … I do not like the distinction between fine and comic art … If both may be concerned with the same themes and both constitute a search after some form of truth … we should regard them both as art.”
Nicholas Garland, English cartoonist, lecture, National Library, Wellington, 1998.
“ … the Punch cartoon [‘Cartoon of the Week’] is not to be considered merely as a comic or satirical comment on the main occurrence or situation of the week, but as contemporary history for the use and information of future generations cast into amusing form for the entertainment of the present. Current national opinion frequently becomes modified, and history may qualify – it may even radically alter – the view of the day; but the record of how public matters struck a people … at the instant of their happening, is surely no less interesting to the future student of history, of psychology, and of sociology, than the official record of the world’s progress.”
M.H. Spielmann, in Cartoons from Punch, 1906.
“In dismissing this evidence [cartoons], historians cut themselves off from a valuable source. Cartoons can tell them in some cases whether certain scandals were public knowledge. They are direct evidence that certain groups tried to manipulate public opinion. They can give a clear idea of the images politicians projected. … They can give an indication of the depth of emotion about events and politicians. And they can provide insights into the popular attitudes that underlie public opinion, insights that may be more difficult to glean from written material or from other evidence or behaviour.”
Thomas Milton Kemnitz, ‘The Cartoon as a Historical Source’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1973.
“While the collected cartoons of artists such as Minhinnick, Sid Scales, Eric Heath and Nevile Lodge had all appeared with periodic regularity, for most of the 20th century, there was no comprehensive overview using New Zealand cartoons as a ‘historical source’. The changing attitude can be directly attributed to the appearance in 1980 of Ian F. Grant’s groundbreaking The Unauthorized Version. A Cartoon History of New Zealand. This text presented New Zealanders with a new version of their history: a visual history, a carnivalistic history that also offered an often challenging and disturbing look into national and historical beliefs, actions, stereotypes and assumptions. This was not the history of their country that most New Zealanders had studied at school; for much of the content, issues and discussions had been, if not exactly hidden, then often conveniently overlooked and forgotten in the official telling of the nation’s story. Yet this was a history that most of us recognised: a lived history, a visual history, a snapshot of public sentiment presented to us each day in our newspapers. This carnivalistic history also challenged many of our official self-definitions as a tolerant and progressive society. For the popular sentiment presented in these cartoons was often bitter, resentful, puritan, racist, sexist and suspicious of difference and authority. It celebrated yet belittled both the powerful and the champions of the underdog.”
Dr Mike Grimshaw, Journal of New Zealand Studies, NS9, 2010.