Paul Rigby was born in Sandringham, Melbourne, Australia, on 25 October 1924, the second son of a telephone engineer. He studied Fine Art at Brighton Technical School in Melbourne, later recalling "I thought I was going to be a Rembrandt but it was a bad time to do it then, in the 1930s." He left aged fifteen to work in a commercial art studio, and from 1940 to 1942 worked as a freelance commercial artist and book and magazine illustrator. In 1942 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a gunner-armourer, serving in North Africa and Europe. He was demobilised in 1946.
In 1948 Rigby joined Western Australian Newspapers as an illustrator, and in 1952 moved to the Perth Daily News to work as political cartoonist, one of the paper's staff recalling that "we found him a spot under a stairwell and that was his studio." Rigby's cartoons proved very successful. They were syndicated throughout Australia, and won five Australian Walkley Awards, in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1966, and 1969. Rigby then became editorial cartoonist on Rupert Murdoch's Sydney Daily Mirror, but in 1969 Murdoch was desperate to staff his newly-purchased Sun newspaper in London, and Rigby was one of the staff sent over. He became the paper's political cartoonist, working alongside Clive Collins. His place at the Sydney Daily Mirror was taken by Cole Buchanan.
Murdoch's redesigned tabloid Sun was launched on 17 November 1969, and Rigby appeared in the first issue. He was billed as "Australia's No.1 Cartoonist", and his cartoons were printed on the editorial page - page six. However, he was obliged to change his way of working on the new paper. In Australia Rigby had been able to pick his own subjects, but in London the Sun's editor, Larry Lamb, followed Fleet Street practice by demanding half a dozen "roughs" each day, and from these sketched ideas chose Rigby's subject for the next day's paper. In London Rigby also worked for the News of the World, and he contributed to the Springer Group in Germany and the National Star in the USA.
Rigby worked hard to establish the Sun, and didn't take a break until January 1971 - an event noted in the paper. However, he left the Sun in 1974, returning to Australia to work on the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and being succeeded in London by Franklin. In 1977 Murdoch again moved him, this time to the United States to become daily editorial cartoonist on his newly-purchased New York Post, as well as contributing a weekly cartoon to its sister paper the Star. In 1982 Rigby won the New York Press Club Award, and in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986 he won the US Newspaper Guild's Page One Award. In 1984 Rigby moved to the New York Daily News, his son Bay taking over his job on the Post, but in 1992 he returned to his old paper, after his son left.
Rigby worked in pen and ink on Bristol board (Grafix or Craftint). He produced an estimated 15,000 cartoons during his working life, and his drawings often included a small boy (called "The Urchin") or a dog (known as "Bright Eyes"), hidden away in odd corners for his regular readers to find. He illustrated more than 30 books and produced a number of collections of his drawings, as well as an influential handbook, Paul Rigby's Course of Drawing and Cartooning, published in 1976. "The function of the editorial cartoon," he once said, "is to convince the public that they are taking themselves and the world at large far too seriously." Rigby - known as "Riggers" to his friends - retired in 2000, moving first to Palm Beach, and then in 2003 back to Australia, where he died at his home near Perth on 15 November 2006, aged 82.
- Buchanan obituary from Sydney Morning Herald at http://www.noz.com.au/cole.html.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.186.
- CSCC Archive.
- ABC News Online, 16 November 2006, "Renowned Cartoonist Dies", at http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200611/s1790242.htm
- "Paul Rigby", The Times, 20 November 2006, p.61.
- Mark Bryant "Paul Rigby; 'Australia's No 1 Cartoonist'," The Independent, 2 January 2007, p.30.