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Russell, Daniel F. (Dan) (1906–1999)

by Jim Russell

Dan Russell. Cartoonist, illustrator 1906 - 1999

Dan Russell, who has died at the age of 93 in a nursing home at Orange in NSW, spent a lifetime drawing. He started in what in the 1920s was the newly created advertising department of Sydney County Council. It was the perfect job in which he was able to develop his commercial art and cartooning skills.

All that changed in 1946 when he took six months' leave and travelled with his brother and fellow cartoonist, Jim Russell, on a car trip through the United States and Mexico.

On their return he was convinced to give up his safe council job to become art director of a new publishing house, Allied Authors and Artists, which published Australian comic books. He also illustrated many of them, in particular Tex Morton's Comic, which reached circulation figures of 100,000 a month in Australia and New Zealand.

This led to his joining AM Monthly published by Australian Consolidated Press. In 1953 his fine penwork attracted the attention of The Advertiser in Adelaide and he was offered the job of daily editorial cartoonist, which he held for several years until he was recruited by The News, Adelaide. That afternoon paper gave him greater scope for his sporting knowledge and, until 1959, his regular sports cartoons made his work a popular feature.

It is interesting that his assistant at The Advertiser, Pat Oliphant, took over his editorial cartooning duties until he was headhunted for a similar position at the Denver Post in the US. Oliphant, now living in Georgetown, Washington DC, became the world's most widely syndicated political cartoonist.

On Russell's retirement from The News he moved back to Sydney where he became an illustrator on the Daily Mirror. For many years he combined with journalist George Crawford in a series of sporting cartoons, SPORTIFACTS, which were later successfully republished in book form.

Dan Russell was a twin, born in the Sydney Rocks on June 12, 1906, the son of politically active parents. His father, Will Russell, stood twice, unsuccessfully, as ALP candidate for the Federal seat of Parkes in western Sydney, and so impressed the leaders that he was promised the Labor-held seat of West Sydney. Unfortunately he was killed in a fall from a building he was working on as a foreman plumber. At the time he was NSW President of the Plumbers Union.

Later, his mother Catherine Green (she had married Syd Green in 1926) was also active in Labor politics and in 1929 become the first woman MLC in the British Commonwealth as a member of the NSW Upper House.

A member of the Black and White Artists Club since 1932 he was, at times, honorary secretary, treasurer and president of that body. In 1994 he was awarded the Silver Stanley for his services to Australian cartooning. Always an active unionist in the Australian Journalists Association, particularly in his Adelaide days, he was made a life member in the 1960s.

Russell was married to Hilda for more than 70 years but, sadly, lost her after a long illness last year. He is survived by his son, Dr Dan Russell and daughter-in-law Van, of Orange, and by grandchildren Adam and Amanda as well as two great-grandchildren. Also by his brother Jim Russell, the sole survivor of a family of six.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

Jim Russell, 'Russell, Daniel F. (Dan) (1906–1999)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/russell-daniel-f-dan-32806/text40810, accessed 3 February 2023.

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