Fred Negro has just knocked off his shift cleaning toilets. One of the best cartoonists in the world – according to some – doesn’t mind his day job. He’s done it for a long time. “It’s just a gig,” he says. “I always wake up early anyway, and I’m finished by 10 or 11.”
Negro, artist and musician, is a Melbourne icon. He is the creator of Pub, the comic strip that ran for decades in street press which chronicled in lurid, scatological and frequently pornographic detail the ratbags and raconteurs of the bayside suburb of St Kilda.
For a long time in the 1990, Negro lived in the suburb’s Esplanade Hotel. “I had the key to the pub. I was like the king of St Kilda! I just had to clean the joint,” he tells me. At the Espy, you could reliably find him drinking and drawing everything going on around him.
The late Rowland S Howard once said you hadn’t made it in Melbourne until you’d appeared in one of Negro’s Pub strips. That was quite something coming from the Birthday Party guitarist, who had his own laneway in St Kilda named after him after his death.… Read more..