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Classic Cartoons: Martin Plimmer on Frank Reynolds

Doctor: "What did you operate on Jones for?"

Surgeon: "A hundred pounds."

Doctor: "No, I mean what had he got?"

Surgeon: "A hundred pounds."

FRANK REYNOLDS'S vigour, mastery of character and easy sense of style impress forcefully today, 46 years after his death, despite the radically different shorthand convention of the modern cartoon.

Vigorous too, once the reading of stage dialogue is accepted, is the quality of his humour. In 1920, after 14 years of supplying social cartoons to Punch, Reynolds became its art editor, taking over from FH Townsend, his brother-in-law. Ten years later, a nervous breakdown caused him to abandon drawing for several years. Reynolds's naturalistic style is a legacy of Victorian wood-engraving tradition, but we can see in it the origins of the modern cartoon. In Reynolds' obituary, cartoonist Kenneth Bird (Fougasse) said: "His line possessed a freedom and energy which make us recognise it now as the forerunner of much of the free-style drawing of today."