Classic Cartoons: Martin Plimmer on George Cruikshank

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The Independent Culture
EVERY PHOTOGRAPH of caricaturist George Cruikshank catches him on a bad-hair day. He managed to be bald and hairy simultaneously and looked like something he had drawn. Cruikshank didn't care for beautiful things, or at any rate couldn't see them. He drew with the rude, exaggerated gusto of the 18th century, a style now mirrored in the work of Scarfe and Steadman.

Cruikshank was more affectionate though, and his humour was rooted in common experiences, like toothaches and nightmares. Who can say they've never had this vicious fellow with the spiky fork and Turkish Teletubby hat riding a pig across their chest at night?

Cruikshank didn't care for inventions. He ridiculed rail and balloon travel. Richard Branson would have been his for breakfast. In the end,Victorian society rejected his grotesqueries but he continued to depict it mincing and affected in preposterous clothing - quite a cheek for someone with joke hair.

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