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A true story


“I had a very short career as the world’s youngest published strip cartoonist, with the Auckland Star. I was working in a printer’s studio, it was a teenage story, my girlfriend got pregnant, so we got married, then all of a sudden I had responsibilities, and I was earning like $19 a week. So I took a job at a printer that paid me a fortune. I had the best studio in Auckland but no work. There I was, a 19-year-old kid in this big studio, working for lovely people, but they couldn’t get any work for me. So I started to draw cartoons and my very first cartoon was how everybody felt at that age: the cartoon of the guy was about this big and all the other people were giants – it was called The Little Man. I did 25 strips and trotted down to the Auckland Star and I left them there on their (political) cartoonist’s desk. And bugger me if I don’t get a call from Pat Booth, who was the Assistant Editor and became quite famous, and I went down there and he said ‘we love these cartoons. How many have you got?’ They published them in the weekend papers for six months of the year. I don’t know that I even got paid; I might have got a dollar per strip or something. But what it led to was two things. The biggest cartoon syndicate in the world, who wanted me to come up with another character and do a strip a day, approached me. And I’m 19… forget it! Then within six months the Auckland Star cartoonist (Lonsdale) decided he was going to retire, so he calls me up, and wants to have lunch with me, and I’m so young I can’t even get into a pub – of course he wants to meet in a pub!  So I sneak into this pub and he’s been sent down by Pat Booth to offer me the job as the political cartoonist for the Auckland Star. I was so flattered, but I just said ‘look, I don’t understand politics!’”

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