cartoonist, drew rather wooden cartoons early in the 20th century for the Adelaide papers Quiz (begun 1889) and Gadfly , e.g. Let us treat our brother gently published Gadfly 10 October 1906, p 689. Then he moved to Sydney, where he apparently remained for the rest of his life. A cartoon in the Bookfellow (8 August 1907, p. 86), Signs of the Times, shows a deputation of butchers, bakers, hatters, Jewish loan-sharks, tailors, etc., drawn in simple outline style, marching on the Sydney City Council asking for the removal of the prohibition on hanging sign-boards. His quite stylised, undated cartoon of a Roman and Wuzzleyan [ sic ] in Hell speaking to the Devil (ML) was probably drawn about the same time as Feeding the Israelites , an original cartoon drawn for Vumps, published – or intended to be published – in 1908, which is dominated by a collage cheque for £1.10.0 made out to 'Will J. Donald’ for drawing 12 series 'Over the Garden Wall’ and 'Where there’s a Nose There’s a Way’ (ML).
As 'Will D.’ he contributed a caricature of Darling as Ajax Defying the Lightning to the Barrier Daily Truth during the 1909 miners’ lockout, noted by Alan Dunstan (plate 5, p.25). He also worked for the Sydney Daily Telegraph , e.g. cartoon of John Bull and a Digger-type Australian 1910 (ill. Coleman & Tanner, 122). The National Library (NLA) holds a good c.1910s self portrait (ill. Kerr 1999) and several other original caricatures: Lily Brayton tamed 1910s, ink; Oscar Asche as Petruchio 1910s, ink; Oscar Asche as Chu Chin Chow 1910s?, watercolour; and A Pacific Islander, a Japanese picture of Mr. Hughes c.1948? [ sic ], pen and ink.
Marcie Muir (vol.1, no.2057) lists Kids’ Cannon (Sydney: W. Penfold, 1917), written and illustrated by Donald in aid of the War Chest Fund. From March 1921 to 1944 (Gibbney no.473), Donald was cartoonist on the Australian Worker , e.g. Marooned 1933 re unemployment – not very interesting (ill. King,122). He also seems to have contributed to mainstream newspapers; NLA has a photograph of 'Humiliation of Labor’, with a kookaburra saying 'Lang is Right’ and a depressed female 'Labor Movement’, published in the Sun News Pictorial on 18 June 1932, 17.
The Benedictine./ No.1 The Only One , signed 'Will Donald 39 B.C.’ (ML), is an 'extraordinary drypoint etching which is unique in the world of art’, according to newspaper clipping verso dated 5 April 1922. Showing three monks drinking, it is captioned (in caps): 'Extra Dry Point on Kerosene Tin Lid – etched with Cough Mixture – proofed with Turps & Tar on Blotting Paper – Pressed in Mangle’. The inscription to James R. Tyrell reads: 'Dear Jim, You have some very remarkable curios I know, but if you know of a better one than this Go To It. Bill Donald’. It was acquired from Tyrell by the SLNSW on 21 December 1959.
Donald drew numerous adventure and crime comic strips and comic books, mostly in a melodramatic 1910s outline style. Many of his characters have prominent hooked noses. Some early examples were done for Associated Newspapers, including the strip Fashion Plate Fanny 1920s (Lindesay 1979, p.43, & 1994, p.2) – called Fashionable Fanny by Shiell & Unger and dated 1923-31. The best of his later comics (early 1940s, acc. to Shiell 117) were published by the NSW Bookstall Company: The Man in the Silent House (6d), Island of Amazement! (6d) and Captain Katseye (cover drawing is a melodramatic version of Guy Boothby’s romantic Dr Nikola c.1900) – all are illustrated by Shiell 1998, 23. Others look earlier and the NSW Bookstall’s publishing business flourished from 1904 to about 1924. Dad, Dave and Daisy: The New Aussie Comic , published by the Bookstall Coy, is dated 1940 by Shiell and Mills (p.52), but Muir vol.1 (no.2056) gives it as 1917 (possibly a reprint?). Other Donald paperback adventure books include Mystery Island , Skelt Dorgan’s Treasure , Rod the Reckless , Special Messenger and Meet Hitler (NSW Bookstall Company, n.d.: the cartoons are dated 1940). Hitler’s Dream , published by the Bookstall Coy in 1940, is just a folded broadsheet (Mills). During WWII he drew comic books for Offset Publishing, often with Hal English , whose heavy, dark style complemented Donald’s sparser, lighter, unrealistic style. Donald also drew The Secret Formula , Enemy Agent , Murder in the Night , The Swinging Death , The Black Ape , The Pink Elephant Ring (a Pyramid comic: cover ill. Shiell, p.33, along with 8 other covers by Donald, most Pyramid Comics), The Rubber Foot Mystery and Saboteurs . The Man in Green Glasses was included as a supplement to the (text) crime story The Swinging Death (Offset c.1942, acc. Sheill, 23). Many of the adventure stories starred his tough hero, Shado McGraw (Shiell & Unger).
Donald was married and had a large family; the photographer Margot Donald , born at Roseville, Sydney, in 1923, was his daughter (see entry in Heritage ).