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Gall, Ian Stuart (1904–1981)

by Patricia Anderson and Jennifer Harrison

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Ian Stuart Gall (1904-1981), illustrator and cartoonist, was born on 23 November 1904 at Wooloowin, Brisbane, youngest of four children of William Gall, a Queensland-born public servant, and his wife Louise, née Wohlgemuth, from Germany. Ian was educated at the Normal School and at Brisbane Boys’ College, where he was cox of the rowing eight in 1918, senior 100 yards champion in 1920, and captain of the Australian Rules football and swimming teams in 1921. School-time doodling led to art classes at the Brisbane Technical College and he abandoned the idea of dentistry as a career.

The Brisbane Courier published occasional cartoons by Gall in the 1920s, covering political issues such as the Queensland government surplus (1923) and the strike by members of the Waterside Workers’ Federation of Australia (1928). In October 1924 the enduring `Mr Fourex’ character, thought to be one of Gall’s whimsical inventions, made his first appearance in an advertisement for Castlemaine Brewery and Quinlan Gray Co. (Brisbane) Ltd’s XXXX Bitter Ale. Gall spent some time in Melbourne and Sydney drawing for the Bulletin (illustrating the joke page) and Smith’s Weekly. Returning to Brisbane, he illustrated the covers of pictorial supplements for two newspapers. On 23 September 1932 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church he married Agnes Annie Stuart Stitt, a stenographer. He was employed at the Telegraph for six years before joining the Courier-Mail, where his initial three-a-week output quickly increased to daily cartoons. His ability to engage readers of all ages in serious topics was demonstrated by a Toowoomba school student’s tribute in the 1939 Glennie Gazette. Although the bulk of his work concerned political events, he had difficulty in treating politicians harshly.

Renowned for his wartime depictions, in 1946-48 Gall was chief cartoonist for News of the World, London. He produced a weekly cartoon and, while in Britain with his family, enjoyed his hobbies of hunting and fishing. At the urging of his wife and children he returned to Brisbane and the Courier-Mail in 1948. After Nils Josef Jonsson’s death in 1963 Gall took over his comic strip featuring Radish the horse, and for some time also produced an adventure strip, `Dare Dalton’.

To emphasise salient points Gall labelled his characters, whether people, animals or birds. Cartoons featured the flying pigs `Rhyme’ and `Reason’; Premier William Forgan Smith’s Scottish terrier named Logan, who wore a placard saying `fares please’ attached to his tail (part of a campaign to have the Logan Bridge toll removed); and Dim Sim, a dragon symbolising cheap Asian petrol which Premier Vince Gair was threatening to import. Gair himself was portrayed as a bespectacled bullfighter. Later Gall used captions and `talk bubbles’ to carry messages. Rarely subject to editorial control, he ranged over local issues such as mosquito plagues, sporting tussles and country life as well as world events. He retired as the paper’s cartoonist in 1969, but contributed a Saturday strip until 1972.

Gall had become well known as a fisherman, naturalist and conservationist. In 196171 he wrote a regular column, `Going Bush’, for the Courier-Mail. He published Fishing for the Fun of It (1970), stories of angling in Queensland in which he urged respect and caution when using local waterways. In Going Bush with Ian Gall (1971), a collection of articles that had appeared in his column, he used pen and ink `scraper board’ drawings of wildlife, accompanied by wry descriptions of fauna such as spangled drongo and spine-tailed log-runner birds, crocodiles, dugongs and bêche-de-mer.

A large, gentle man, with blue eyes twinkling as he laughed, Gall was never happier than when dressed in comfortable fishing gear and his favourite floppy hat. His wife died in 1971 and on 8 June 1974 at St Augustine’s Church of England, Hamilton, he married Sydis May Best, née Keily, a widow. In 1978 the Philip Bacon Galleries featured an exhibition of Gall’s drawings, paintings and cartoons. Survived by his wife and the son and daughter of his first marriage, he died on 25 June 1981 in Royal Brisbane Hospital and was cremated; a stroke eighteen months earlier had confined him to a wheelchair. Stewart McCrae, his successor as the Courier-Mail’s cartoonist, described him as `Mr Queensland as far as cartoons were concerned’.

Select Bibliography

  • T. M. Hawkins, The Queensland Great Public Schools (1965)
  • F. McBride and H. Taylor, Brisbane: 100 Stories (1997)
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 26 Dec 1945, p 2, 15 Oct 1963, p 27, 24 June 1978, p 11, 27 June 1981, p 3
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

Patricia Anderson and Jennifer Harrison, 'Gall, Ian Stuart (1904–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gall-ian-stuart-12525/text22539, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 24 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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