cartoonist, was born in Malvern in suburban Melbourne. In the 1930s he lived in Sydney studying at ESTC and drawing freelance cartoons and comic strips for the Bulletin and Smith’s Weekly . His first cartoons were published in the Bulletin , eg. “You bin wrong all this time, Mum. It wuz a crow, not a goanna” (Dave fishing an object out of the water tank) 1936 (ill. Lindesay 1994, 15), or – better because the style of drawing is more original) – pathetic cow cockie, “Looks like somebody’s bought the next block, Ma” 31 March 1937. The first meeting of the reformed Black and White Sketch Club – which had collapsed with Cec. Hartt 's death in 1930 – was held in Arthur Horner’s Sydney studio on 8 September 1937. Vane Lindesay reports that the room was so small the artists present had to crawl over each other to sketch the model hired for the night.
After serving as a captain in the AIF’s military history section during World War II – where he was in charge of Privates Donald Friend and Sali Herman – Horner arrived in London in 1947 [1946 acc. Senyard; left in 1946 acc. Atkinson, p.53]. There he studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. He drew for Lilliput and the Leader , produced political cartoons for the Tribune and worked on the News Chronicle (1950-60) where his masterpiece 'Colonel Pewter’ began in 1952. After the paper folded, he moved to the Daily Mail , then in 1964 joined the Guardian where Colonel Pewter, which he took with him, continued until 1970; it was syndicated to the Age from 1962 to September 1970. He wrote as well as illustrated all 54 stories in the Pewter series. He also contributed cartoons to the New Statesman (he was political cartoonist for it in 1966-71 according to Atkinson), Punch , Private Eye and The Times . He was a close friend of Vicky, the great post-war London cartoonist.
Horner returned to Melbourne in 1976 where he contributed to the Age . In 1977 her drew a new 'Colonel Pewter’ strip to celebrate the Centenary Test titled The Pukka Ashes (ill. Lindesay 1979, 326), but then dropped it despite public enthusiasm. As he explained in a letter to the Age :
“As for the question of [permanent] revival I was equally sorry to let old readers down but once off the treadmill of a daily strip the act of climbing back on again was more than this weak flesh could undertake and in any case I feel a good wheeze runs its course and shouldn’t be pushed any further” (quoted Lindesay 1979, 82).
Instead, he began a weekly satire showing the angel 'Uriel’ bewildered by Australian institutions, manners and customs (1976-79: one original SLV). Lindesay (1979, 83) called it 'positively brilliant satire’ and 'the finest feature being drawn for the Press in this country in recent times’. He also did theatre drawings (e.g. Japanese kabuki theatre) and occasional political cartoons for the Age (eg. 14 June 1986, ill. Senyard), like he had previously done for the New Statesman . David Swain reported he had scored the originals of 'Horner’s social history series “Our Lot” [done] for The Age ' for the NMA in an article on the NMA collection in the Bulletin (11 November 1988, p.110) illustrated with Horner’s brilliant gag of a young woman examining the work of an exhausted cartoonist (self-portrait?), who says: “It’ll get by the Editor and make the readers laugh – but what about a student doing his PhD a hundred years from now?”
In 1979 he was among the eleven cartoonists included in the Age 'Black and White’ 125th anniversary exhibition at the Age Gallery, 250 Spencer Street – staff cartoons and photographs – along with Leunig, Nicholson, Petty, Spooner, Tandberg, Tanner, et al (reviewed by Mary Eagle, Age 5 October 1979). He had a solo exhibition at the Age gallery in the 1970s.
Horner was married to the cartoonist and illustrator Vic Cowdroy , who predeceased him. The then lived in retirement in Melbourne until his death on 25 January 1997. Two daughters – Jane Sullivan (an Age journalist) and Julia Houghton – stepdaughter Diane Romney and his two brothers, Frank and Jack Horner, survived him.