The story of how Michael Luenig stopped drawing political cartoons and doing the work for which he is now famous is an act of creative rebellion which appeals to me:
One Saturday morning in 1969, struggling towards a deadline and trying to draw a cartoon about the Vietname war, a strange thing happened to me. In an act of merry insolence; as a small rebellion against deadlines, punchlines and politics I sidestepped my obligations and the grave topic in hand and drew what I thought was an absurd, irresponsible triviality. Tempting fate, I presented it to the editor for publication.
It showed a man riding towards the sunset on a large duck. On his head he wore a teapot. Not a ‘proper’ cartoon by conventional standards, quite loopy in fact, but a joyous image nevertheless.
The editor told me he didn’t know what it meant but laughed, shook his head and published it. I suspect that deep down, to my good fortune, he understood.
I don’t know if deep down I always understand, but even if I don’t, I laugh and contemplate and enjoy Leunig’s words and pictures.
This Friday’s poem comes from his collection, Poems 1972 – 2002, published by Viking.
Sitting on the Fence
Come sit down beside me
I said to myself,
And although it doesn’t make sense,
I held my own hand
As a small sign of trust
And together I sat on the fence.
– Michael Leunig –