cartoonist and illustrator, the 'incomprehensible wild wee man from Estonia’ (Stewart, 36) was born in Tallinn, son of a jeweller. His father migrated to Australia with his family after losing a fortune at the beginning of the Depression. They reached Sydney in 1929 and Hardtmuth (also spelt Hardmut or Hartmut) enrolled at ESTC, where he was christened 'Hotpoint’ by Mollie Horseman (usually shortened to 'Hotti’ or 'Hottie’), as he reminded his lifelong friend on an annotated photograph he sent her for Christmas in 1970. Lahm sold his first cartoon to the Sydney Mail while still a student, the second two years later. During the 1930s he took whatever freelance work was offered, contributing both to Smith’s Weekly and the Bulletin . In 1934 he created two comic strips for Fatty Finn’s Weekly . After it folded in 1935, he travelled around the country drawing caricatures of pub customers at two shillings a sketch but claimed he spent most of his earnings shouting his offended subjects drinks (Ryan 74).
He returned to Sydney and in December 1936 began work as a general cartoonist for the Sun- Associated Newspapers Group, drawing covers, caricatures and cartoons for their various publications. He contributed to K.G. Murray’s Man for its entire existence (December 1936 to May 1974), where he – and the magazine itself – was renowned for the piddling dog 'Snifter’, born in 1937 and continued until Man 's demise (ill. Lindesay WWW , 139). As well as pissing on the back page of Man for over thirty years, Snifter acquired a life of his own in numerous anthologies. Lahm also drew many other cartoons for Man , especially during the first decades, e.g. coloured April 1948 cover of animals boarding the ark with an elderly gent with flowers accompanying the wolf (ill. Lindesay, WWW , 142). Man cartoons in file include one of a man looking into a mirror while seated beside a cross female on a desert island (March 1937, 37), Hitler as a boy in class saluting (April 1937, 95) and Hitler walking through the glove department of a store with all the gloves saluting him (September 1938, 15).
The comic strip David and Dawn (one original strip AGWA – possibly also in ML?), written by George Edwards and illustrated by Lahm, appeared in the centre pages of Smith’s Weekly 4-page comic book supplement published in 1938-39 in an unsuccessful effort to stave off falling circulation. It then became a radio serial on 2UW, which led to various books illustrated by Lahm, including David and Dawn with George Edwards in Fairyland and David and Dawn with George Edwards under the Southern Cross . The latter marked the first appearance of an Aboriginal piccaninny, Tuckonie of the Arrente tribe, a supporting character who became a star in Edwards’s subsequent and far more successful radio 2UW serial, The Search for the Golden Boomerang . It too resulted in a number of books illustrated by Lahm in 1941-46.
For the Sunday Sun he wrote and drew the strip Snowy McGann (1951-54), an ultimately unsuccessful replacement for Ginger Meggs after Bancks moved from Associated Newspapers to Frank Packer’s Sunday Telegraph (the comic relief in Snowy is provided by 'Pistol Packer’). He also illustrated numerous books, e.g. Musette Morrell, The Antics of Algy , col. plates & or. 1-col. illustrated by Hartmut Lahm , A/R, Sydney, 1946, pp.69.
An undated Smith’s Weekly original, There’s no need for me to go home early, my husband doesn’t eat breakfast , was donated to ML (PXD 840) in 1999 by the wife of a former reporter, along with over 20 originals by other Smith’s artists and a copy of the final issue (28 October 1950) signed by them all. 111 original cartoons and 15 caricatures by Lahm dated 1934-60 are in the ML Bulletin collection. An original 1965 Lahm cartoon is at ML PXD 764, while the NLA has the pen, ink and watercolour original of 'Time you decided who you’re going to listen to…” (NLA R11404), published in Man in September 1963. 19 originals acquired from the proprietors of the Sun-Herald are in the AGWA, including several caricatures, e.g. “Modern Art Bah!” Jimmy McDonald, Director Art Gallery of New South Wales (957/D288). From their titles others appear to be more general, e.g. The end of the war! or ration books, a Panorama of Sydney on V.J. day (957/D374) and The Gum-tree Gully Show! 1941 (AGWA 957/D371).