Woo-hoo! There were whoops of joy all across Melbourne this week when Premier Dan removed restrictions on kids’ park playgrounds. Most of those cries of happiness were from parents who were at their wits end trying to keep energetic youngsters entertained at home. After six months of lockdowns it was a small first step in the city’s return to some sort of (covid) normal.
It sounded like a good topic for a cartoon and a chance to have a bit of fun with the playground concept. Even though we had lots of images of Melbourne children and their parents enjoying their first day back on the swings and monkey bars after many months, I thought I would draw something a little bit different.
I often draw Federal and State Parliament Question Times like a rowdy school classroom, which in fact isn’t too far from the truth. MPs calling out names and interjecting*, the Speaker of the house calling them to order or expelling them from Question Time for unparliamentary behaviour — just like something we might see in a primary school classroom. I wanted to do the same with a park playground!
The Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has been under a lot of pressure over the way his government has handled the hotel quarantine system in the state, which led to a huge second wave of the coronavirus and the harsh stage 4 lockdown. I planned to draw the Premier as a young boy enjoying a break from things at a playground. He deserved a day off!
But as I was thinking about ideas for the cartoon I was listening to news radio and looking at news websites and seeing the Premier’s opinion polls falling and also the hotel quarantine inquiry was making his day a real bummer. I thought this might have an influence on his time in the playground.
I know that when I was a kid, my friends and I didn’t just climb on the monkey bars and slide down the slippery dips. To make things more interesting we would imagine amazing fantastical* situations, like for example at the end of the slippery dip was a giant pool of snapping crocodiles or below the monkey bars was a bottomless chasm* that if you fell into you would never be seen again!
I decided to have a little bit of fun and apply this to Dan Andrews’ time at the playground. I started drawing one of those tube slides, which are very popular these days. At the end of the tube a child normally pops out into a sandpit, but here in the political playground, the ending is not quite so nice and a little more boggy! In the foreground I feature Dan swinging his way across on the rings (one of my favourites still to this day!). But below him isn’t just some tanbark wood chips but two huge snapping crocodiles just waiting for him to lose his grip!
You will note that on one of the crocodiles I have written ‘Polls’ and on the bogpit I have written ‘Hotel Quarantine Inquiry’. What I am doing here is using these objects as symbols for the real issues that are threatening the Premier, like his popularity with the voters and the inquiry into quarantine.
Thinking back to when I played on playgrounds with my friends, we took our imaginary scenarios* very seriously. Nobody wants to fall into a pit of snapping crocodiles do they?! Looking at Premier Dan in my cartoon, I imagine he is thinking the same thing!
- interjecting: butting in while someone else is talking
- fantastical: strange and wonderful
- chasm: a deep crack in the ground
- scenarios: situations
- What is the main news story behind this cartoon?
- Who is the person playing in the playground?
- What animals are below the monkey bars? Why?
- What is the little pig saying?
- List four of the colours of the big slide tunnel.
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1. Draw a Cartoon
Mark’s first idea was to draw Premier Dan enjoying a day off. Draw a cartoon inspired by this idea.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts
What do you think Dan Andrews would think about this cartoon? Imagine that you are Premier Dan and describe the cartoon from your (Dan’s) point of view.
Time: allow at least 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship
Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the cartoon. A person or animal.
Write it down.
Add 3 adjectives to describe them better.
Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?
Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.
Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Suggest a cartoon topic for Mark Knight to draw.
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.