Iconic cartoonist Michael Leunig kicked out of The Age after anti-Dan image
Cartoonist Michael Leunig lost his prestigious post in Age after sparking outrage over an ill-informed compulsory vaccination comparison.
Leunig may be an Australian living treasure, but that clearly doesn’t make him untouchable. After posting an image on his Instagram account comparing the compulsory vaccination program to the iconic “tank man” protesting in Tiananmen Square in China, he was dismissed from his post at Age.
The image was posted on Instagram late last month, but was not published in a print edition of the newspaper. Speculation began to surface last week that Leunig’s time was up after a statement appeared in Age saying they were “testing new cartoonists”.
Now Leunig has confirmed the decision to the australian. He revealed that Ages Editor-in-chief Gay Alcorn informed him shortly after the cartoon first appeared to “gently break the news” that his services were no longer needed. Leunig was reportedly told he was “out of touch with the readership”.
“Gay thinks that this type of cartoon is not in line with public sentiment, and Ages the readership, which appears to be largely in favor of the Andrews Covid narrative, âLeunig explained. “But my job is to challenge the status quo, and that has always been the job of the designer.”
He also attempted to explain his use of the Tiananmen Square image, claiming that it was regularly used in cartoons around the world as a “Charlie Chaplin-style metaphor for an overwhelming force meeting the innocent individual and powerless”.
It’s not all bad news for Leunig: Alcorn has confirmed that the cartoonist stays in the books of Age, and will still produce a cartoon for the Saturday Spectrum section of the newspaper.
The reaction to Leunig’s post was, as you can imagine, rather mixed. “Really? Compare a vaccination to the Tiananmen Square massacre? It undermines all the other works of art you’ve done that comment on humanity and social justice. Incredibly disappointing,” wrote one commentator.
âIt’s disgusting,â said Georgia Maq, a member of Melbourne alternative rock band Camp Cope.
âBe blessed Leunig. We need more courageous artists like you, âsaid someone else. Another user simply commented with the fire emoji.
Leunig has a long history of courting controversy. In 2015, he caused a backlash after he created a cartoon comparing the Victorian government to fascists, after a proposal to ban unvaccinated children from daycare centers.
He also frequently drew criticism from “Working mothers” due to the satire of heavy use of childcare services in Australia.
But the artist who once said, “Artists should never shy away from a confrontation with society or the state”, will probably feel like a victim after being removed from Age.