It was more a ‘gales’ evening in the laughter sense than a ‘gala’ one last night as Australia’s premier cartoonists turned out in Sydney for the Australian Cartoonists' Association’s 27th Annual Stanley Awards for excellence in cartooning.
Taking out the Gold Stanley for Cartoonist of the Year was Anton Emdin, the relative newcomer who has risen swiftly and dramatically within the industry, securing the bronze Stanley for Best Illustrator for the third year running before garnering the coveted Gold. Beating out other such luminaries as Andrew Weldon (freelance cartoonist) and former Gold Stanley recipients David Pope (editorial cartoonist for The Canberra Times), David Rowe (editorial cartoonist for Australian Financial Review), Mark Knight (editorial cartoonist for The Herald Sun) and Peter Broelman (editorial cartoonist for APN and Fairfax regional newspapers) Emdin was notably astounded by his win.
“I never even dreamed I could win this. It’s been a very surreal year for me. I’m incredibly grateful. Thank you,” he managed to say, his emotions clearly evident.
Emdin turned heads in May this year when he was the first Australian to win a Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society in the US. Working as a freelancer from Sydney, Emdin has worked for numerous publications including MAD and closer to home, The Spectator.
After being handed the award from legendary political cartoonist and Hollywood designer Ron Cobb, Emdin also thanked his wife Ash and his children before thanking his fellow cartoonists in the Australian Cartoonists' Association.
“It’s a great association. I’m so thankful to be a part of it and to be a part of this great industry,” he said, before rejoining his beaming wife.
Other recipients of the five remaining bronze Stanleys were David Rowe (Best Caricaturist), Andrew Weldon (Best Single Gag Cartoonist), David Follett (Best Comic Book Artist), Tony Lopes (Best Comic Strip Artist) and David Pope (Best Editorial/Political Cartoonist).
The Jim Russell Award, a special award for contribution to cartooning, was also presented to former Stanley and Gold Stanley winner Rolf Heimann for his years of service in forging cartooning relationships with foreign countries.
Heimann, an author and illustrator of numerous children’s books, spoke briefly of his love of cartooning and the bonds it can create between nations divided by language.
The Awards night was the culmination of a two-day annual Conference which saw demonstrations, panels and talks from a variety of cartoonists, including iconic artist Reg Mombassa.
(This report from ACA, the Australian Cartoonists' Association.)