A cautionary tale

Cartoonist Sharon Murdoch

Al Nisbet is a very well known New Zealand cartoonist and recently he was approached by someone involved in producing a new New Zealand web series called Two Sketches. They explained that the new show was headed by the Spinoff’s cartoonist Toby Morris. The premise of the show is that Morris will draw while chatting to another cartoonist while they both complete a sketch. The goal was to interview what they described as “the land’s most interesting scribblers.”

They included a link to their first episode so that he could see for himself the format of the show.

So far so good. The request was simple.

In episode 2 Toby interviews cartoonist Sharon Murdoch, who references your “Psst… if we can get away with this…” cartoon. Would you please advise whether we have your permission to include this image?

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Now here is where the tale gets interesting because Al Nisbet did not give permission for his cartoon to be used and he had a very good reason for saying no.

He explained that while normally he would agree to their request, a year or so ago the Spinoff’s cartoonist Toby Morris, wrote a hit piece article that was an attack on him and implied that he was male, pale and stale while referring to Nisbet’s #MeToo cartoon that depicted witches going on a witchhunt.

Cartoon credit: Al Nisbet

Nisbet explained that he is not opposed to criticism and attacks as he has “drawn many attack type cartoons myself over the years and had the odd death threat in response thrown in for good measure.” What he hadn’t ever done however was attack a fellow cartoonist personally, because he would view that as a below the belt attack.

Also, Nisbet felt that Morris failed to understand that

Cartoons are meant to stimulate discussion and occasionally provoke… not just adhere to a supposed lefty doctrine that the masses are meant to stick to or else.

He pointed out that every issue has many different angles and viewpoints “not just the bland, safe, PC mantra that today’s ‘cartoonists’ and opinion pieces follow.” 

Nisbet’s opinion of the Spinoff was that it appeared to be a left-wing driven platform for left-wing viewpoints, so he reasoned that the only reason why Morris would want to show his cartoon would be to continue his personal attack on Nisbet, so he denied his permission for his cartoon to be shown on the programme.

So can you guess what then happened? Yes, they went ahead and showed it anyway and the cartoonist who was interviewed in that episode Sharon Murdoch bad mouthed Nisbet along with Toby Morris.

The ironic thing about the continued attacks on Al Nisbet is that a breakfast cartoon that he drew six years ago keeps being re-published by the very left-wing outfits who claim to be offended by it.

Their actions are like this funny scene from Father Ted where his protest against a film draws everyone’s attention to it and make it very popular.

290513 The Marlborough Express Al Nisbet cartoon

When the above breakfast cartoon was first published, John Campbell featured it on television and Willie Jackson talked about it on the radio. Al Nisbet rang into the show and immediately defused Jackson’s angst by telling him that he would have rung earlier but was down at the pub having a smoke on the pokies.

John Campbell ran a viewer poll expecting the viewers to find the cartoon offensive, expecting an overwhelming result. It was an overwhelming result but not what he expected as out of 10,000 odd feedbacks 78% agreed with the cartoons.

The media are a bit thick really as they keep feeding their readership PC lecturing content when their readership mainly tends to be older types who are more conservative. They have lived and experienced reality and therefore have a realistic sense of humour and are not constantly offended.

Even young people don’t always like the level of PC culture everywhere and there are plenty of people, particularly in the South Island, who think that Sharon Murdock’s work is unfunny, wishy-washy, and consists of lefty bleeding heart Feminist mediocrities. You can’t please everyone and every cartoonist will have fans as well as those who don’t like their work.

The attack on Al Nisbet occurs at 19:17

Sharon Murdoch still is employed by The Press but Al Nisbet is not. I will leave Al with the final word…

As newspapers shrank and after 30 plus years of dedication and development in my craft I was pressured more and more to soften my approach in my cartoons and basically play it safe. In other words follow the bland and safe lefty vision…or else. I refused and paid the price with the loss of my contract. But I have no regrets.
Male, and pale…yes! But at least I have integrity.

Al Nisbet