Fiona Katauskas won the 2009 newmatilda.com prize for political cartooning and her work features regularly in our Daily Cartoon section as well as in newspapers and galleries across the country.
Fiona has been cartooning full-time since 1997 and she’s one of Australia’s few female cartoonists making a living doing so. "If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me why there are so few female cartoonists," she wrote in newmatilda.com in 2008, "I’d be able to put a hefty deposit on a chunk of Sydney’s choicest waterfront real estate."
While there are few women in cartooning, there are also few women in cartoons, says Fiona. "Cartooning’s everyman is usually … well … a man. Being female, my everyman characters are women — not because of any conscious agenda on my part but just because they usually say what I want to (and would) say. To my surprise, some people find this problematic. I’ve had blokes tell me on several occasions that they didn’t understand one of my cartoons."
Maybe such blokes will be a bit more receptive when they find out about Fiona’s magic cartooning shoes …
1. What’s the headline you’d most like to see on the front page of a daily newspaper?
"Indigenous Disadvantage: Gap Closed", or "Polls: 95% of Australians Support Fulfilling Refugee Obligations", or, failing that: "Dwarf Poses as Child: Adopted by Blind Couple" (although that’s already appeared in the late, great Weekly World News).
2. If you could oblige everyone in Australia to click through to one webpage, which one would it be?
http://www.newmatilda.com. Do I get a raise?
3. What is one thing you’ve always wondered about economics but were too afraid to ask?
Do people really believe this shit actually works?
4. When did you last eat a meat pie?
When I was campaigning for Premier of New South Wales.
5. What’s the oldest thing in your fridge?
A piece of paper with Belinda Neal’s name on it.
6. Has anyone got a climate change policy you agree with? Who?
The Greens are probably closest to it. Everyone else makes me want to bang their head against a wall. It’s such a travesty that this debate has been hijacked by the brain-numbing inanity of the culture wars, with some reducing it to an issue of left versus right.
7. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
Probably when I was about three and realised that even though the fancy guest soap looked delicious and smelt delicious, it actually wasn’t delicious at all.
8. What’s the household chore you relish the most?
I refuse to answer any question that uses the word "relish" in the same sentence as "household chore".
9. What sort of shoes do you wear to work?
Special cartooning shoes with pencils at the front and heels made out of eraser rubber. They’re invisible too, so it looks like I’ve got bare feet. Which is good because I work at home.
10. What campaigning tactic do you most want to see in this year’s federal election?
Appealing to The Better Angels of Our Nature. Novel idea, I know, but somehow I don’t think either major party’s going to take it up.
11. Nominate a new public holiday.
UnAustralia Day: a day of national celebration, free of flags, jingoism and t-shirt nationalism.
12. If you could go tomorrow anywhere in Australia for a holiday, where would you go?
I’m a freelance cartoonist! I don’t know what "holiday" means. If I did know what it meant, I’d probably say Broome, or camping with my family in north WA. I’ve never been to either place.
13. What’s your favourite YouTube video?
The Wire: 100 Greatest Quotes. David Simon and Ed Burns are geniuses. Yes, it really is the best show ever. If you haven’t seen it, DO IT NOW but give it five or so episodes to catch on.
14. If you were given $5 million, what would you spend it on?
I’d pay off the mortgage then give the rest away. Shopping is my idea of hell so a big spree would not be on the agenda. I’d get Ben Eltham to help me invest it wisely so I could keep sending funds to Holroyd High School and the Circle of Friends network which supports refugees. I’d also love to start some organisation to give relief and social support to carers who are often isolated, lonely and exhausted.
15. Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Anyone in first class, especially if they were happy for us to completely ignore each other. I’m one of those people who think of long haul flights as an opportunity to catch up on reading, movie watching and drinking very small bottles of wine.
16. What trivia question/topic will you beat everyone else in the pub to the buzzer on?
I wrote quiz questions for Tony Delroy’s ABC radio show for a couple of years so I should know loads of stuff but unfortunately none of it stuck to my brain. The Wire maybe, but there are freaks out there — FREAKS — who know a lot more about it than me. I probably know quite a lot about Australian politics and political cartooning over the last 10-ish years. And Tom Waits.
17. Complete this sentence. I’d like to hear Kevin Rudd say "…"
"I’ve realised my strength lies in Foreign Affairs. Julia Gillard will lead the Labor Party to the next election."
18. Name someone in Australian public life who deserves a promotion.
Teachers, childcare workers and nurses — they’re just about as public as you can get. And a whacking great payrise too. Oh, and Big Harto. I know he’s already at the top of his game but the guy’s a genius.
19. In 10 words or less, summarise your food philosophy.
Almost everything tastes better with chilli.
20. What question should we ask our next interviewee?
What are your most and least favourite technological developments of the last 500 years?
BONUS QUESTION from our last interviewee:
What traumatic event in your childhood caused you to hate your country so much?
I think it was the moment I discovered Piers Akerman existed. Either that or Andrew Bolt.
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