Mark Knight’s Cup cartoon has Reserve Bank fire-breather for the win
The Melbourne Cup is famed as ‘the race that stops a nation’ but this year’s capacity crowd at Flemington could barely be heard above the inflation dragon’s roar in Mark Knight’s cartoon
READING LEVEL: GREEN
They say the Melbourne Cup is the “race that stops a nation”. There is a public holiday in Victoria to celebrate it – and when the field of 24 horses jump from the barrier at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November, most of Australia is in front of a television or mobile phone watching it. That’s if they are not at Flemington racecourse with 80,000 other members of the public.
The Cup holds a special place in the hearts of Australians, with some of its previous winners household names and legends. I’m talking about horses, of course: the first horse to win, Carbine; Phar Lap, the horse that carried a nation on its back during the Depression* years; and three time winner Makybe Diva, are all icons* of our sporting Hall of Fame.
But there was another event being held on this year’s Melbourne Cup Day that also was trying to “stop our nation”.
The Reserve Bank* board was meeting to decide if interest rates should be raised again. Over the last 18 months, the nation’s central bank has been raising interest rates (which makes money more expensive to borrow) in a bid to cool down our economy and stop inflation* from growing.
Inflation is where the cost of things becomes more expensive. That means that the money in our pockets is worth less. In the past, we have seen runaway inflation in some countries, where you need a wheelbarrow full of cash just to buy a cup of coffee. So the Reserve Bank was trying to stop the Australian economy from bolting out of control on the same day as the Melbourne Cup.
I saw a delicious comparison between the two events for my cartoon, which was timed to appear in the Herald Sun on Cup Day.
Flemington is a beautiful racecourse. It boasts spectacular gardens, lawn areas, grandstands, marquees*, and the famous roses, which come into bloom right on schedule for this week’s Spring Carnival.
And I love to draw horses. Many people think that horses are hard to draw, but not me. I love sketching them – standing, galloping or even jumping. The highlight for me at race meetings is seeing the horses with their jockeys aboard, parading in the ring before they head out to the track. You get to see them up close, what incredible athletes they are, gauge* their temperament* on the day, and admire the different colours and patterns of the racing silks* the jockeys are wearing. I thought I could use this scene in my cartoon, because I had an idea about how I would portray* the other big event that was going to happen that day.
Inflation was once described by former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello as a “dragon that must be slayed*”. The inflation dragon is like a flamethrower on the economy, burning up the spending power of people’s wages and savings. The only thing I love to draw more than horses are dragons. I thought I would include the huge fire-breathing inflation dragon in the parade ring at Flemington with all the other Cup runners that day. It would make a hilarious* scene.
So I drew the famous Hill stand and the members’ viewing area, then added in the parade ring as well as some horses I knew were running in the Melbourne Cup that day. Last year’s winner Gold Trip, with its jockey wearing the blue and chequered colours, as well as the favourite, the big chestnut coloured gelding* Vauban, and former winner Vow and Declare.
Now to add the punchline*: our inflation dragon! For those of you who are familiar with Game of Thrones*, you will recognise that my dragon bears an uncanny* resemblance to Drogon from that series. About the same size as a passenger jet airliner, covered in scales and dorsal* spikes, with huge wings, claws and a sheet of flame coming from a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, Drogon is quite a sight!
Astride* this huge beast sits a little jockey holding the reins as if he is sitting on a thoroughbred mount like the others around him. There is a lovely juxtaposition* here between the inflation dragon’s enormity* and the thoroughbred* racehorses. The cartoon, however, points out that despite their differences, they all share one thing in common: they are all runners on Cup Day.
In a late postscript*, the Inflation Rate Rise dragon did come home a “winner” for its team, with the Reserve Bank board raising interest rates by .25 per cent.
- Great Depression: the Wall Street crash of 1929 triggered a global economic depression last lasted nearly 10 years in Australia after the economy collapsed
- icon: person or thing widely admired especially for having great influence
- The Reserve Bank: institution responsible for producing and issuing Australia’s banknotes
- inflation: an increase in the level of prices of the goods and services that households buy
- marquees: a large tent at a fair, party, or other outdoor event used for eating and drinking in
- gauge: assess, measure, make a decision about or determine something
- temperament: mood, personality, combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits
- racing silks: racing colours, the uniform jockeys wear that represent and identify the owner
- portray: show, depict, represent, characterise
- slayed: put to the sword, put to death, destroy, extinguish
- hilarious: extremely funny, very amusing
- gelding: a male horse that has been gelded
- punchline: the last part of a story or a joke that explains the meaning of the rest of it
- Game of Thrones: American fantasy drama TV series based on a series of novels
- uncanny: here it refers to two things bearing such a striking, surprising similarity
- dorsal: of, on, or near the back of an animal
- astride: atop with a leg on either side, astraddle
- juxtaposition: putting things dissimilar things next to each other
- enormity: hugeness, vast size, extreme scale
- thoroughbred: a racehorse with parents of the same breed with good qualities
- postscript: a short remark or message added to the bottom or end of something
- How many horses run in the Melbourne Cup?
- Which horse saw the nation through the Great Depression years?
- How many times did Makybe Diva win the Melbourne Cup?
- Who once described inflation as a dragon that needed slaying?
- Mark Knight based his dragon on which animal from which famous series?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Humour analysis
After reading and analysing the Mark Knight cartoon in the Kids News article, complete the following analysis questions to help you get the full humour out of his drawing.
Mark Knight cartoon analysis:
What is the main issue Mark Knight is highlighting?
Who is portrayed in the cartoon?
How are they portrayed?
What is the humour in the drawing?
Who might agree with his viewpoint?
Who might disagree or possibly be offended by this viewpoint?
Do you think he makes a good point? Explain your answer.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social, Critical and Creative Thinking
Write a response to this cartoon from the viewpoint of one of the people or objects portrayed in the cartoon. Think, what would be their response to the speech bubble and satire from the cartoon.
Write or draw your response below.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Personal and Social, Critical and Creative Thinking
What happens next?
Imagine this story is part of an animated series made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell the complete story and this article is only Part 1. Think about what the rest of the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking