Review: The Essential Leunig by Michael Leunig

Title: The Essential Leunig: Cartoons From a Winding Path

Author: Michael Leunig

Published: Penguin Australia November 2012

Synopsis: From the vast repertoire of Michael Leunig comes this inspired selection of four hundred of his most universal and timeless pieces spanning four decades. Such is his prophetic insight that many of them are more relevant today – and funnier and more ironic – than when they were first published.

Status: Read on November 20, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Penguin Australia}

My Thoughts:

Michael Leunig began working as a political cartoonist for a daily newspaper in Melbourne in 1969. The Penguin Leunig, his first book of collected cartoons, was published in 1974 and since then has produced twenty-three more collections including books of newspaper columns, poetry and prayer. His prints, paintings and drawings have been exhibited broadly and are held in various public and private collections In 1999 he was declared a national living treasure by the National Trust and awarded honorary degrees from La Trobe and Griffith universities and the Australian Catholic University for his unique contribution to Australian culture.

The Essential Leunig is a hardcover collection of 400 cartoons spanning the last forty years. For Leunig the images included here encapsulates his journey from “joy to gloom to delight to anger to hurt to love to sadness to silliness to dismay to rapture to bad taste to good faith to goodwill to yearning to humour to mischief to this thing to that thing…” amounting to a memoir of sorts.

Most Australians would be familiar with the unique motifs of Leunig which include a crescent moon, a man and his duck. There is usually a message to glean from each of Leunig’s cartoons, no matter how whimsical they appear. Some are obviously a commentary on political and social affairs, others illustrate philosophical ideas and many of his pieces are accompanied by poetry or writing. He has strong views,  especially regarding war and military action, and  as such his work sometimes puts him at odds with editors. politicians and readers yet his pieces continue to prove popular.

With the inclusion of an introduction by Leunig on how he creates, this volume is sure to become a collector’s item. The Essential Leunig is a wonderfully presented coffee table book and as such, would make a lovely gift for fans of the artist.

Available To Purchase

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. diannegray
    Nov 22, 2012 @ 09:46:59

    I absolutely love Leunig. He’s an Australian icon.

    I didn’t so much enjoy his sister’s cartoons – they were just a little too dark for my taste.

    You’ve just reminded me that this book would make a great Christmas present for my brother :D

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  2. Pris Gormley
    Nov 22, 2012 @ 21:22:57

    I’m a longtime Leunig-lover. My 91 y-o sister in Melbourne sends me the cartoons from The Age, and I have most of his books and calendars. His cartoons are so full of meaning and philosophy, spirituality and humour, they feed my inner duck.

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  3. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Nov 23, 2012 @ 21:05:30

    My husband Ron and I are fans of Leunig. This sounds like an awesome book!

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  4. Pris Gormley
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 22:39:35

    I’ve borrowed this book from the library, and I absolutely have to buy it. Much of his older, gentler, more philosophical work is in the beginning – I haven’t read it all yet. We don’t have to understand his cartoons, but here and there will be a picture that reaches deep down. There’s a face peering up through the grating of the gutter – and an angel kneeling down to kiss the face – that floors me! A family having a picnic in a hole in a construction site, party hats and all, while dad plays a guitar – little boy says “You’re wonderful, Dad”. Maybe it’s just a lifetime of exposure to Leunig, but I can’t resist him.

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