Famed Australian cartoonist Bill Leak, an editorial cartoonist for The Australian as well as a highly regarded portraitist, is in a coma and in serious but stable condition following a fall from a first-story balcony during a parrot-feeding accident. According to another story, Leak has won eight Walkley Awards and 19 Stanley Awards from the Australian Cartoonists’ Association, and has entered the Archibald Prize for portrait painting 13 times.
He has won the Packing Room Prize twice, as well as the People’s Choice award for a portrait of federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.
From a 2002 profile of Leak:
Max Cullen profiles Bill Leak, a self-described schizophrenic, who says of his work, “one side of the work is immortalising people in painting portraits or trying to make an enduring statement through painting and the other side is taking the piss mercilessly out of people and I enjoyed both equally and still do.” Max spent a day with him in the offices of The Australian as he created his “Australo Politicus” cartoon — Leak’s take on the finding of a seven-million-year-old skull in the African desert. He traces the evolution of prehistoric man to John Howard. Leak told Cullen, “I believe these early hominids have very pronounced bottom lips … put a bit of hair [there] and incredibly, almost miraculously, it looks a lot like John Howard … and I think I am onto something here.”