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Random Life (Judy Horacek, Horacek Press)

Judy Horacek’s whimsical cartoons have long been a fixture in the Australian media landscape; Random Life (published through her own just-released imprint) is Horacek’s ninth collection. In the foreword, John Clarke calls the artist a honeyeater: ‘agile, industrious and singing her position as she darts from plant to plant’. This book, comprising over 230 colour illustrations spanning the past six years of her career, does indeed flit from subject to subject as its title suggests, with single-page cartoons rather than a continuous narrative. Though Horacek doesn’t shy away from socioeconomic, feminist and environmental swipes that often have a hard edge, quite a number of her cartoons are, as she puts it, ‘silly’. But swallow such self-deprecation at your peril. There’s skill involved in coming up with those puns (anemones/frenemones: ‘Those tentacles—what a mess!’), unlikely associations (tomato frisbee) and twisted concepts (Humpty Trumpy). Among the many admirable cartoons, here are two highlights that are a perfect mix of the absurd and the political: a cocky fowl sprinting across the street (‘It’s that damn male privilege thing—no rooster ever has to justify why he crosses the road.’) and Dr Seuss’ Guide to Climate Change Denial (‘Shock jocks talk crock. Fools flock, science mocked. Action knocked. World focked.’)

Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer and the books editor of the Big Issue


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