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May Gibbs’ ability to capture character combined with her quick wit and off-beat sense of humour lent themselves well to the art of cartoons. Encouraged by her father Herbert, himself a talented satirist, May was known to carry a sketchbook everywhere she went, drawing inspiration from daily life. Her skill of capturing the personalities of those around her resulted in commissions from West Australian publications. May created political cartoons for magazine The Social Kodak under the pseudonym ‘Blob’ throughout 1902-3 and sporting cartoons for newspaper the Western Mail from 1906 -1913.
In 1924 May Gibbs became Australia’s first female cartoonist with the publication of her popular Bib and Bub cartoon strip which first appeared in the Sunday News on 3 August 1924. Later syndicated to newspapers across Australia and New Zealand, it becoming Australia’s longest-running comic strip, continuing until 1967. May used the pseudonym Stan Cottman for her second cartoon strip, Tiggy Touchwood, which was published by rival newspaper the Sunday Sun from 1925, and also Melbourne’s Sunday News Pictorial from 1926. The success of Bib and Bub encouraged the Sunday News to introduce Gumnut Gossip – Extracts from the Daily Bark. The weekly column first appeared in the Sunday News in August 1925 and featured short stories and illustrations of life in Gumnut Town. The humorous column ran until 1935.