‘I took up drawing in my early twenties to escape the drudgery of teaching English to miserable high school kids in miserable towns on the west coast of Tasmania.’
That surprised me – but then I found this, trying to track down more of his personal history on-line
‘Oslo Davis was born in Brooklyn, Tasmania. He is now an illustrator and cartoonist living in Melbourne, Australia.’
At first I was going to write that, as we both taught in the same educational district of the island state and as I had forty years teaching in the same region as Oslo, I’d probably come across him. Then, to find out he was born in the suburb of Brooklyn in my home town of Burnie – one of my favourite cartoonists – I was gobsmacked to say the least. Oslo a Burnie boy – well I never. And like me, he headed south to complete his education at UTAS, possibly also well before it came to be generally known as UTAS – although, by the look of him, he is considerably younger than myself. And we both ended up teaching. No doubt we probably attended the same moderation meetings – they usually being a right royal waste of time really, trying to make sure our teaching of English was on the same page, so to speak. As if.
Now Burnie’s not the most attractive town on an island noted for its attractive locales, but, compared to places like Rosebery and Queenstown, down the west, it’s a veritable Paris or Florence – despite the latter mining town having the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ and the infamous gravel oval. In such a place most teenagers would be miserable – I’m sure it wasn’t entirely down to Mr Davis’ lack of pedagogical skill. But teaching obviously wasn’t for him. Thankfully, so it turns out. In between Oslo leaving the classroom and achieving the measure of fame he has today, he dipped into a number of professions, as well as some extensive travel, before he found his true calling. And that brings me to the point of this exercise – reporting on my perusal of his latest publication, ‘Drawing Funny’.
In this Oslo recalls that he’d always been a doodler, leading to now earning a living from producing funny drawings. He has developed, as any cartoonist worth his or her salt should, his own recognisable style – despite once receiving a letter of complaint, from a more senior artist, reckoning that, ‘I have never ever seen worse drawings anywhere by anyone.’
Oslo came to my attention through his work for the Age newspaper. He was a regular contributor until he, along with Horacek and Weldon, was sacked as full time employee in 2012 due to cost cutting measures that saw the broadsheet become more tabloid. He now only produces two weekly cartoons for that daily, one being his popular ‘Overheard’ series for the Sunday edition; as well as an occasional article. But he has various other gigs to fall back on – and then there are his books, ranging on such topics as the attractions of various Melbourne localities, Henry Lawson to even Donald Trump.
‘Drawing Funny’ is described in its blurb as a ‘how to’ guide, but it really just tells how Davis goes about it – I suspect such a thing cannot be taught in any case. And it is also a vehicle for the ‘best of’ his product. There were quite a few fresh ones for me to quietly have a chuckle over, the highlight being, for me, his take on the abomination that is the morning shower. I guess we may well have that in common too – our abhorrence of that form of ablution as opposed to languorously lingering in the tub. Showers apart, there’s much pleasure to be had in this small collection and for the uninitiated it would be a great introduction to Oslo’s product – and at around a mere $15, it’s a steal.
Oslo’s website = http://www.oslodavis.com/