A man named Rigdum Funnidos is given credit for a number of the issues of the Comic Almanack, but who was he? Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable lists Funnidos as “A quick, active, intrepid little fellow, … full of fun and merriment, … all over quaintness and humorous mimicry, ….” Sir Walter Scott gave the name to his publisher, John Ballantyne, after a character in Henry Cary’s, Chrononhotonthologos (Robert Taylor collection 19th-305).
George Cruikshank (1792-1878) also used the name rather than credit himself for the editing (compiling?) of Comic Almanack from 1935-48, when Horace Mayhew took over. Cruikshank served as the principle illustrator for most of the annual’s nineteen years, creating issues “adorned with a dozen of ‘Righte Merrie’ cuts, pertaining to the months, and an hieroglyphic.” Text authors included William Thackeray (1811-1863), Albert Smith, Gilbert Becket, (1811-1856) and others.
Thackeray wrote a commentary entitled “George Cruikshank,” for the Westminster Review, June 1840, which spoke about their project:
Twelve admirable plates, furnished yearly to that facetious little publication, the Comic Almanac [sic], have gained for it a sale, as we hear, of nearly twenty thousand copies. The idea of the work was novel; there was, in the first number especially, a great deal of comic power, and Cruikshank’s designs were so admirable that the Almanac at once became a vast favorite with the public, and has so remained ever since.
…In the earlier numbers of the Comic Almanac all the manners and customs of Londoners that would afford food for fun were noted down; and if during the last two years the mysterious personage who, under the title of “Rigdum Funnidos,” compiles this ephemeris, has been compelled to resort to romantic tales, we must suppose that he did so because the great metropolis was exhausted, and it was necessary to discover new worlds in the cloud-land of fancy.
…it is very difficult to find new terms of praise, as find them one must, when reviewing Mr. Cruikshank’s publications, and more difficult still (as the reader of this notice will no doubt have perceived for himself long since) to translate his design into words, and go to the printer’s box for a description of all that fun and humor which the artist can produce by a few skilful turns of his needle. …thank heaven, Cruikshank’s humor is so good and benevolent that any man must love it, and on this score we may speak as well as another.
More digital images of the Comic Almanack are at http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ufdc/?g=all&b=UF00078634