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Classic Cartoons: Michael Heath

Martin Plimmer on Michael Heath
THERE CAN barely be a journalist whose heart has not sunk to see his definitive lifestyle piece decorated by the brittle figures of the prolific Michael Heath.

The annoying thing about Heath is that he won't simply illustrate a comical idea integral to the text, as any run-of-the-mill cartoonist would do; he has to add some keen insight of his own. Invariably this turns out to be much more perceptive than the writer's.

A meticulous observer of how we dress and behave, Heath with his narrow- nibbed pen cuts straight through the absurdities of fads and fashions to uncover the greater human absurdity beneath. When he began selling cartoons in 1954, cartoonists were valued more highly. A small drawing in Tatler would net four guineas: "enough to cover your rent on a flat. The reason I'm prolific is because now, on the whole, it pays very badly."