Flowering of Talent
The political cartoon as it is known today and the art of personal caricature had to await the turn of the century and the inspiration of a select group of young men. At the head of these was young David Low, of Christchurch, one of the greatest black and white artists of his time. But there were others such as Fred Hiscock (politics and the liquor question); Harry Rountree; the Auckland trio, George Finey, Unk White, and G. K. Townshend; R. W. Coulter (Christchurch); John Gilmour (Wellington); George Prain (Dunedin); Stuart Peterson (born in Melbourne); T. E. Glover (who came from London as a youth); F. Blomfield (“Blo” of the Auckland Observer); and Trevor Lloyd (of the Weekly News, Auckland).
It was ironical that such a sudden flowering of talent should occur at a time when the market for black and white drawing was extremely limited. Low as a youth was earning odd shillings, and some of his contemporaries were unable to find any sort of vehicle of expression at all. The inevitable happened. The Bulletin beckoned from across the Tasman. Low had already secured a footing there, and Finey, Townshend, and White were becoming known. Soon the trek began. David Low left in 1910 for Sydney after a brief period with the Spectator and the wavering Canterbury Times in Christchurch. Several others, of the best of their kind, having concluded an uneasy apprenticeship, went the same way, some of them, like Low, making Australia only a stepping stone to London. Harry Rountree found fame on Punch in London and George Finey went to outstanding success on Smith's Weekly and the Labour Daily, after a period with the New Zealand Herald in Auckland. Unk White, and with him G. K. Townshend, moved off to the Bulletin, Smith's Weekly, and Aussie, and Stuart Peterson left the Free Lance in Wellington for Sydney. John Gilmour, of New Zealand Truth and the New Zealand Times, went to London, and Tom Glover became cartoonist to the Sydney Sun, a position in which he was succeeded on his death by Stuart Peterson.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing contributions of the thirties to cartooning in New Zealand was the political publication Tomorrow, a strongly Socialist production, quick in opinion, often violent, but always consistent in its aims. Its content lent itself admirably to cartooning and caricature, but in the few years of its existence, from 1933 to 1939, its guiding genius, Andrew Kennaway Henderson, regarded its cartoons as his own particular demesne. This policy lent a peculiar distinction to the publication, since in all his black and white work Kennaway contrived to apply a form of draughtsmanship popular in the nineties to the problems and situations of the early thirties. Henderson, who signed his work Kennaway, died in 1960