When Lindsay Foyle had his first cartoon published in The Bulletin magazine Malcolm Fraser was prime minister – and still a member of the Liberal Party.
Much has changed since then.
The Bulletin is no more.
Fraser’s young Treasurer has risen to the country’s highest office and suffered a bruising fall, chased from government and dumped by his own electorate in 2007.
As the alliances and the politicians have changed, so too have the tools used by those who sketch the ironies of Australian political life.
“When I started doing cartoons it was pen and paper,” Foyle says.
“Then technology gradually crept in, first with the fax machine, and then computers, scanning cartoons and emails, and now colouring them in on the computer.”
“Some cartoonists don’t even touch paper these days.”
Over all those years, one thing has remained constant.
Every year Foyle has patiently presented his cartoons to judges on the Walkley panel, hoping to be selected as a finalist in the prestigious journalism awards.
Until 2014 he had never succeeded.
Last night, his run of rejections came to an end.
Along with Fairfax’s Ron Tandberg and David Pope, Lindsay got the nod, breaking his 30-year duck.
It was this cartoon, run by New Matilda in July, that got him over the line.
Foyle and his partner Jan Andrews were taken by surprise.
“She was very excited for me and we just sat there, sort of shell shocked.”
Foyle turned 70 last month and is now “basically retired”.
He started as an Art Director at The Bulletin but eventually rose to the position of Deputy Editor, later spending 13 years at The Australian.
More than a cartoonist, Foyle is a cartoon nerd, and currently working on a book about Ginger Meggs. He is also writing an extended piece on Cecil Hartt, an early 20th century Australian cartoonist and the founding president of what would become the Australian Cartoonists Association, an organisation in which Foyle is now deeply involved.
He continues to file a cartoon once a week for New Matilda, a task he’s tended to since 2012.
It’s been a long wait for Lindsay’s Walkley call up and we’ll be cheering for him from the New Matilda offices, but how does he rate his chances of taking the big prize home?
The competition looks stiff.
“Well, I’ve got one chance in three. Both David Pope and Ron Tandberg are among the top cartoonists in Australia,” Foyle says.
The good news is that even if Lindsay goes home empty handed, the gaffe prone Coalition government will still be there to help inspire him to come back even stronger.
“The government is doing all it can to improve the lives of cartoonists,” he acknowledges.
Foyle is currently renovating his garage, and adding an extra level to use as a studio, a place where he can research and write on Australian cartooning while drawing up works of his own.
Among the scores of books and piles of equipment, he estimates there should be just enough room for a modest, pen-shaped trophy.
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