Bruce Petty unleashes Parallel Worlds

By Zona Marie Tan

From global haywire to parallel worlds, well-loved cartoonist and Academy award-winning animator Bruce Petty knows just how to visualise a world going mad. And his visions are aptly captured in his latest new book launched this month, Petty’s Parallel Worlds – a colourful hardback that reproduces an eclectic collection of Petty’s best work throughout his cartooning career.

In an intimate tête-à-tête session at Gleebooks last night, Petty was asked to reminisce about his illuminating career from its beginnings and his influences by The Australian’s political cartoonist Bill Leak.

Petty mused over his beginnings learning about animation in a studio in Box Hill before the days of television, then about living in London in 1955 where he worked as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, contributing regularly to Punch, The New Yorker and Esquire.

He even casually joked about his own drawings and the criticisms he gets about them.

“When I see my etchings, it looks like someone needs counselling,” he told Leak.

Despite being labelled as doodle-bombs, Petty’s work has been awarded an Oscar, transformed into a dozen films and just as many books. When asked which gave Petty the most pleasure – filmmaking or cartooning – he chose cartoons.

“Film is fascinating and everyone loves films,” he said. “But the films came like an extension of what I was doing.”

Petty’s Parallel Worlds includes political cartoons, travel and social observations, film extracts, condensed book illustrations and prints. It is published by High Horse and is available at RRP $39.95 in all good bookstores.

Bruce Petty and his son Sam are featured in Take Two of this month’s IF #113 Sept issue.