Michael Leunig’s cartoons have littered my childhood, images of duck and Mr Curly lining the staircase of my childhood home. I think I vaguely recalled that he was Australian but it wasn’t until I picked up a recent copy of Peter Carey’s ‘Oscar and Lucinda’ with a Leunig cover, that I put two and two together.
After being declared an Australian national treasure in 1999, Michael Leunig is firmly cemented within Australian culture. He began his cartoon work with a political strip in a daily Melbourne newspaper in 1969 and his work has since been published in various publications all over the world. With an unmistakable style and whimsical characters Leunig’s work can’t fail to delight but it is not without its depth. Many of the cartoons depict monochrome images and dry scepticism as well as insightful political remarks. Following 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, Leunig’s work depicted his staunch opposition and dissolution with the war putting him at odds with more militarist sectors of Australian society.
Penguin have now released all of Peter Carey’s works with Leunig covers, combining two Australian cultural icons into one beautiful package.