Q & A with Judy Horacek

Q & A with Judy Horacek
Authors at the National Library
31 August 2017

Random Life finds one of Australia’s favourite cartoonists at the height of her creative career; still making us think and laugh. It is full of all the things we have known and loved about Judy’s work over the years – her concerns for the environment, social justice and feminism, along with her off-the-wall quirkiness and trademark flights of fancy. 

Join Judy in conversation with Alex Sloan on the 7 September, as they explore the cartoons that will make you laugh a lot, and occasionally weep.


Why do you draw?

I draw to have my say about things I think are wrong with the world, and to make people laugh.  Not always in the same cartoon, although it is great when that does happen.

Did you face any challenges writing this book?  

Random Life is self-published, so the task list was a bit overwhelming.  Having to do something so Judy could do something that would allow Judy to do the next bit was almost overwhelming at times.  Total control brings total responsibility which is scary.  But it turned out wonderfully in the end.

What fascinates you about the current social / political climate of Australian Society?   

I’m watching what is going on these days with a mixture of fascination and horror and shame.  It would be impossible to make things up as bizarre as what is going on - politicians are self-satirising.  I can’t believe we are behaving so cruelly to asylum seekers, I am shocked at the new levels of racism and misogyny in our society that have been revealed over the last few years, I am worried about the increasing levels of inequality in Australian society.  I’m also worried about the marriage equality debate and the harm that could be done to vulnerable people by the nonsensical statements of the No camp.  On the plus side, I’m becoming a bit optimistic that the neo-liberal agenda is starting to be exposed for the sham it is.  One of the things I love about cartoons is that you can capture all these serious things, and then at other times just be completely surreal and silly.


Where did the inspiration for the cartoons in this book come from?

This book is a collection of over 230 cartoons that I’ve done over the last few years. I have a regular spot in the Age (some of them have also been published in other Fairfax newspapers) and that’s where the majority were first published, some are also from magazines and journals I have worked for.  The inspiration for the individual cartoons themselves comes from all over – current events, fads and fashions, something I’m angry about, animals, social media. It’s a bit of a random process, hence the title Random Life.

Are you reading anything at the moment? If so, what?   

I’m reading a book by Kurt Vonnegut that I picked up in an op shop, Timequake.  I can’t remember the name, but it’s one I haven’t read before.  I first came across his work when I was 9, someone lent Breakfast of Champions to my mother and snuck it away and read it (I’m not sure I would have been allowed to had she known).  I haven’t read anything by him for a while, and it occurs to me that his idiosyncratic way of writing has probably been a big influence on me.

What do you love about libraries?

I love nearly everything about libraries.  I love the fact that they are full of books, that they preserve knowledge and information for future generations, that they see culture as important and valuable.  I also love it that you can take lots of books down off the shelf, and it’s someone else’s job to put them back. 

I have continued to share your cartoons and your children's books/illustrations with my children now all grown and my grandchildren and my friends. Two of my grand children have your signature on their books. The Green Sheep. I remember seeing you in Brisbane at The State Library a few years ago, but I first came in contact with your cartoons in 2005 at The National Museum. Go Girl! You are a legend.