“If you don’t ask you don’t get, if you do ask you get stuff all.”John Frith, c. 1975
In 1950 John Frith was approached by artist and humourist of Smith’s Weekly, Stan Cross. Acting on behalf of Sir Keith Murdoch, Managing Director of The Herald and Weekly Times, Cross sought to lure John Frith to The Herald in Melbourne. Continued below...
“Over many pots I listened to Stan outlining the Murdoch proposition… we continued to haggle until 2.30 am… Stan recorded all the misty details on sheets of paper which between hiccups he handed me and between hiccups I signed. I doubt if a more incomprehensible contract was ever signed in such dismal surroundings at such an hour… my signature closed my years as cartoonist with the Sydney Morning Herald.”John Frith, c. 1975
Frith soon found that his political cartoons were not always to management’s liking…
“Early in the piece I had to withstand a great deal of needling and piddling criticism over cartoons which were considered too political… My options were very limited. I decided to carry on and live in the hope that someone in authority would eventually get ‘fire in the belly’ and give a cartoonist full reign for his talents.”John Frith, c. 1975
However, Frith waited in vain.
He remained with the paper until 1969 when he retired from the newspaper scene. With no fanfare or public farewell, John Frith left his Herald studio closing forty successful years as one of Australia’s greatest political cartoonists.
Many of these original cartoons by John Frith were published in the Melbourne Herald newspaper between 1962 and 1968. They were donated to the museum’s collection by the Frith family in 2012. The others are caricatures of public figures Frith drew which have not been published.