Community News cartoonist Smithy pays tribute to “brilliant” Bill Leak, dead at 61

Community News cartoonist Smithy pays tribute to “brilliant” Bill Leak, dead at 61

COMMUNITY Newspaper Group and Sunday Times cartoonist Greg Smith has paid tribute to colleague Bill Leak.

Leak, a nine-time Walkley Award winner, died in a NSW hospital of a suspected heart attack this morning.

The Australian’s cartoonist was 61 and had just this week launched his latest book, Trigger Warning.

“Very sad to learn the passing of the very irreverent Bill Leak,” Smith said.

“A brilliant cartoonist, who controversially prodded issues, initiated discussion and pushed the envelope all the way to the end.”

Leak had to move out of his house after drawing the prophet Muhammad after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015.

He was accused of being a racist last year when he depicted an Aboriginal man holding a beer and not knowing the name of his son, an accusation he denied and defended.

The Australian reported that Barry Humphries’s character Sir Les Patterson gatecrashed Leak’s Wednesday night book launch and described him as “Australia’s Rembrandt, our Warhol”.