Judy Horacek is well-known for her observations of the small things in life, combining those with the big issues that concern us all.
In her new collection of cartoons, If You Can’t Stand the Heat, she tackles some global issues at the forefront of our minds: climate change, feminism, poverty, social media and work/life balance included. She also throws in some purely comical – read: hilarious – and nonsensical images for some light relief.
It’s a perfect balance and the book inspires an interesting mixture of emotions and thoughts. Flicking through this book, the reader is simultaneously laughing, nodding their head and thinking.
We go from a mob of hysterical penguins worried about the melting ice to an email being read – ‘Can one million emails be wrong?’ – as a woman ponders her need for a penile enhancement.
Keep turning and we see a workaholic at her computer, dreaming of her idea of a holiday; that is, transferring her desk and computer to a sun-drenched island. And then more thought-provoking humour, as on one side of the globe a person consumes while on the other, pure survival.
Sound disjointed? You might be surprised to hear how seamlessly it flows. The issues handled are done so with humour and, at times, a real sting, meaning we can glean from each one as much or as little as we choose. Every single cartoon here could be used as a thought-provoking insight into life in the twenty-first century, or taken as just a quick belly-laugh. Or a mixture of both, if you like.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Melbourne launch of If You Can’t Stand the Heat last night. Hearing others speak of the impact Horacek’s cartoons have had, and still have, on their lives was inspiring. Hearing Horacek herself speak was even more so.
As witty and observant in person as she is on paper, Horacek had her audience in fits of laughter as she spoke of her life as a cartoonist. Her speech was classic Horacek: messy, funny, thoughtful and with a haphazard feel that really came from much consideration.
Her pure joy and gratitude at being able to do what she loves, and having Scribe publish her books in an industry that, by all accounts, is less than supportive of cartoon work, was evident.
I say, bring on more wonderful cartoon books; there’s still space on my coffee table.