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Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman, (born 23 October 1924) is an Indian cartoonist, illustrator, and humorist. He is widely regarded as India's greatest-ever cartoonist and is best known for his creation The Common Man.
Birth and childhood
R. K. Laxman was born in Mysore. His father was a headmaster and Laxman was the youngest of six boys. One of his elder brothers, R.K. Narayan, went on to become one of India's best known English language novelists.
Laxman was engrossed by the illustrations in magazines such as Strand Magazine, Punch, Bystander, Wide World and Tit-Bits, even before he could read. Soon he was drawing on his own, on the floors, walls and doors of his house and doodling chafhSVHres of his teachers at school; praised by a teacher for his drawing of a peepal leaf, he began to think of himself as an artist in the making. Another early influence on Laxman were the cartoons of the world-renowned British cartoonist, Sir David Low (whose signature he misread as "cow" for a long time) that appeared now and then in The Hindu. Laxman notes in his autobiography, The Tunnel of Time:
“ I drew objects that caught my eye outside the window of my room - the dry twigs, leaves and lizard-like creatures crawling about, the servant chopping firewood and, of course, and number of crows in various postures on the rooftops of the buildings opposite ”
Laxman was the captain of his local "Rough and Tough and Jolly" cricket team and his antics inspired the stories "Dodu the money maker" and "The Regal Cricket Club" written by his brother, Narayan. Laxman's idyllic childhood was shaken for a while when his father suffered a paralytic stroke and died around a year later, but the elders at home bore most of the increased responsibility, while Laxman continued with his schooling.
After high school, Laxman applied to the JJ School of Arts, Bombay hoping to concentrate on his lifelong interests of drawing and painting, but the dean of the school wrote to him that his drawings lacked, "the kind of talent to qualify for enrollment in our institution as a student", and refused admission. He finally graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mysore. In the meantime he continued his freelance artistic activities and contributed cartoons to Swarajya and an animated film based on the mythological character, Narada.
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