Friday, April 13, 2012

NZ Cartoon Archive celebrates 20th birthday

The NZ Cartoon Archive at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington celebrated its 20th birthday on 5 April with the launch of the first in a series of monographs, A Cartoon War, about the role editorial cartoons played in New Zealand during World War One.

The monograph, by Sarah Murray, currently curator of Canterbury social history at Canterbury Museum, was adapted from her MA thesis by Cartoon Archive founder Ian F. Grant.
“Monographs are, by definition, significant, specialised works of scholarship that treat relatively narrow topics in considerable detail,” says Ian Grant.  “The Cartoon Archive will continue to publish broader based books, but it was felt important to fill in as many gaps as possible in the history of cartooning in New Zealand, and monographs are admirable ways of doing so.”
Ian Grant will be general editor of the monograph series, with one publication issued annually. The next two will deal with the way cartoons have moulded or reinforced public opinion in New Zealand about racial issues and religion.
The NZ Cartoon Archive has grown impressively over the last two decades.
What began as one person’s idea – partly to get boxes of cartoons out from under his bed – has, in 20 years, grown into a fully fledged archive, and the only one of its kind in Australasia.
“When I researched The Unauthorized Version, the country’s first cartoon history, in the late 1970s, I quickly became aware that we had a remarkable heritage of first-rate cartoonists stretching back well over one hundred years,” says Ian Grant. “This, and the work of contemporary cartoonists, needed to be preserved as increasingly valuable historical sources of information about prevailing attitudes and views of each generation.”
The NZ Cartoon Archive was launched by then prime minister Jim Bolger on 1 April 1992. Since then it has collected about 50,000 cartoons, originals and copies, by some 60 cartoonists. With this increasingly valuable resource it has been able to mount 14 exhibitions that have been seen around the country and, in one instance, in Canberra. The Cartoon Archive has also published six books.
A Cartoon War  - 118 pages and 81 cartoons - will be available only from the NZ Cartoon Archive.  $35.00 (incl. postage and packaging). Contact the NZ Cartoon Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library, P O Box 12349, Wellington or email

Photo caption:   At the 5 April event in Wellington, Ian F. Grant, the Cartoon Archive’s founder, Sarah Murray, author of A Cartoon War, and Sir Geoffrey Palmer who launched the monograph.

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