In 1981, I was living in Canberra when I first read this new newspaper comic strip called "Swamp". I was so taken by its humour and cartoon style that I immediately wrote a letter to the newspaper's editor (that's how we communicated in those days before emails), asking for more details about the feature. To my surprise, I received a response and learnt that Gary Clark came from my hometown of Brisbane. Gary might be surprised to know that I still have that first piece of correspondence, written by Yvonne, his wife.
On my return to Brisbane in 1982, I met Gary for the first time in person and a friendship developed from that first meeting. However, my visits to Gary were not positive ones: we tended to talk about comic strips, cartoonists and other topics, and Gary got so little work done that Yvonne limited my visits to three per year.
Last month, knowing Gary would not be attending the 2015 Stanley Awards, I asked Gary the "what If" question -- what if he won this Award [Best Comic Strip]? Gary did not feel he would win, but said I could accept it on his behalf if he did.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I accept this Award on behalf of Gary Clark, I'd like to acknowledge all the Yvonne's in this industry. All the partners of the artists and cartoonists here tonight and the partners of those not here. I think you'll agree, they put up with a lot.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honoured to accept this Best Comic Strip Award on behalf of a great cartoonist and a true Friend, Gary Clark.
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.
The Jim Russell Award is, I believe, the most Special Award in the annals of the Australian Cartoonists Association. It is an Award that can be won by an individual or a corporation, it can be won by someone whose work is not in the Year Book, and it can even be won by someone not a Member of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association.
It is special not because it is the only one that non-cartoonists, like myself, ever have a chance of winning! But it is special because it is the only Award that is chosen, not by popular vote, but by the Committee of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association.
The Committee considered most carefully the Award for 2015. Which individual or corporation was thought to have contributed most to, or advanced the cause of, cartooning in Australia? We considered very carefully the candidates….
Tony Abbott? Nah.
The winner of this year’s Award has influenced more than mere cartooning in this country – the impact extends to other aspects of Australian culture. Yet, the recipient of the Jim Russell Award for 2015 is attending the Stanley Awards for the very first time tonight.
Our winner personifies mateship; the Australian ability to be able to laugh during tough economic times; and not just at the absurd situations that we can find or place ourselves in, but the ability to be able to laugh at ourselves in spite of the adversity surrounding us. We tend to overlook the mild profanity uttered by the beneficiary of this year’s winner of the Jim Russell Award; in fact, we have overlooked his contribution to the cause of cartooning in Australia, not just this year, but for the past 83 years.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with much honour that I announce the Committee’s decision: the winner of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association’s Jim Russell Award for most significant contribution to Australian cartooning and to Australian culture for 2015 is …
The Stan Cross cartoon “For Gorsake, Stop Laughing: This is Serious”.