Journalists and readers mourn revered cartoonist Bruce Petty, dead at 93

Bruce Perry was honoured with numerous awards, including an Oscar for his short film <i>Leisure</i>. <i>Photo: AAP</i>

Bruce Perry was honoured with numerous awards, including an Oscar for his short film Leisure. Photo: AAP

Award-winning cartoonist and animator Bruce Petty has died at the age of 93.

Petty was born in Doncaster in Melbourne’s northeast in 1929 and began his art career 20 years later.

He went on to become one of Australia’s most lauded cartoonists, working for publications locally and overseas including The Age, The Australian, The New Yorker, Esquire, Punch and The Bulletin.

Petty was The Australian‘s first cartoonist, and his illustrations were published in The Age for four decades.

He was best known for his political cartoons, but he also won an Oscar in 1977 for his animated film Leisure, which emphasised the importance of leisure time’s use in society.

The film was one of several Petty made for Film Australia and he also released many other projects, including Global Haywire, which in 2007 won him an Australian Film Institute award for best director.

In 2008, Petty said the film was a critique on behaviour that happened after colonialism. His “doodle-bomb” cartoons and characters illustrated the story, because “real people often react badly to bad news”.

‘Hugely ambitious’

“It’s hugely ambitious obviously,” Petty told AAP at the time. “It’s sort of an extension of what I’ve been doing for years in newspaper form – the little rectangle with two-dimensional black lines on it.

“And this is similar, with a pretty extravagant proposition, but with the script behind it from experts and students, not just myself.”

Journalist John Spooner described Petty’s political cartoon book Australia Fair as having been “an inspiration for every Australian young cartoonist”.

Petty was awarded a lifetime achievement award for journalism at the 2010 Melbourne Press Club Quill Awards.

He was inducted into the Australian Cartoonists Association’s hall of fame in 2014, and two years later took home the Walkley award for the most outstanding contribution to journalism.


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