This 2002 Michael Leunig calendar issued by the Sydney Morning Herald is the oldest we have ever seen.
As a collectible it is certainly a rarity. Leunig fans can rejoice that what is probably, in most cases a lost work, has been found intact.
Only the one copy in store so don’t be disappointed and act now.
Your 2002 calendar is reusable in:
2013, 2019, 2030, 2041, 2047, 2058, 2069, 2075, 2086, and 2097.
Year – 2002
Artist – Michael Leunig
Issued by – Sydney Morning Herald – Fairfax Media
Soft cover with a different cartoon for each of the 12 months.
Topic – Australian politics, humour, social commentary
Full colour plates
29.7cm x 21cm (when closed)
Leunig loses his inspiration – fowl play suspected
By Jo Roberts
November 23 2002
Printed in the Sydney Morning Herald
More Van Duck than Van Dyck … Michael Leunig’s duck has been taken by a fox. The cartoonist says the bird has a “kind of serious quality, but also a vulnerability”.
After more than 30 years, cartoonist Michael Leunig has lost his muse. He is duckless.
“We had a duck up to six months ago, but the fox got it; we told our daughter that it had simply flown away to another place,” he says.
“It’s been a lean, duckless period, but there’s so many other birds in my life now … I’m rich in birds. We have chooks, but ducks will turn up again.”
The man famed for his poignant, sometimes controversial cartoons has had a soft spot for ducks since childhood. “I was fond of them,” he says. “And I like their character. They seem to have a kind of serious quality, but also a vulnerability. I was just drawn to them.”
In fact, one of his first published cartoons featured a huge duck carrying a soldier with a teapot on his head. It was a comment on the Vietnam War; the duck helping the soldier escape into absurdity from a far-too harsh reality.
Like the waddlers in German folklore, Leunig’s ducks are moral compasses for his fragile, bulbous-nosed characters. How would Leunig’s little journeyman, Vascoe Pajama, have found his way without his trusty duck?
In Animated Leunig, the series of 50 one-minute cartoons screened on SBS, the duck teaches us how to recognise someone who is corrupt. “You must study the duck,” actor Sam Neill narrates. “You must play with the duck. You must talk with the duck. You must know the ways of the duck.”
For Leunig, himself, a duck answered a lifelong mystery; the origins of his name.
One day in the 1980s, Leunig, who lives in north-eastern Victoria, visited a group of artist friends in their Melbourne studio. They were working on a mural to be displayed in Canberra, and invited Leunig to contribute.
“They said, ‘Go on, paint a duck in the corner’. So I did, and my name appeared with all the other names as being a participant in this mural,” he says.
“But lo and behold, there was an American who saw the mural and he saw the name Leunig. He was a Leunig and inquired who I was. He got in touch with my publisher and he sent me a copy of the family tree.”
Leunig traced his family back to the Hartz Mountains in 16th-century Germany. The same mountains where, coincidentally, the Brothers Grimm set their tales – and the birthplace of the German mythology of the saviour duck.
“I never understood the origin of my name,” Leunig says. “But the duck in the mural led me to discovering my ancestry … all because of one little duck.”