Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hitler satire in Ukraine

A Hitler billboard, protesting about a Stalin statue, in Ukraine. Not caricature, but interesting satire.

Russian Street Art

Interesting article on a street artist involved with the anti-Putin demonstrations, with some good visuals.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Post-election use of caricature in Putin fight-back

Very interesting article on Time Magazine's website including a reference to a deck of cards, produced by the Kremlin, with caricatures of the opposition leaders on the Jokers. Fascinating retaliatory use, creating a caricature war. I'd quite like a set of these cards, but in the meantime, there are some great images online.

These decks of cards have been handed out to supporters, turned into sandwich boards and worn around Moscow, turned into placards and taken on rallies, and now posted online.

Images via:

Very interesting phenomenon. Comes so close to Putin's accusations of US meddling in Russian elections, for one thing. For another thing, the caricatures are satirical, but not as biting as some of the anti-Putin imagery (not that they were especially vicious, especially compared with Krokodil). There are a large number of references to Russian/Soviet historical personalities in these images, which would be fascinating to analyse. It also reveals some interesting attitudes to the power of caricature. There may have been other instances as well, but this is reminiscent of the USA's use of the deck of cards analogy for those wanted for involvement with humanitarian crimes in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

More articles on the same theme here and here.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

More modern Russian humour

Since Vladimir Putin's announcement that he will attempt to reclaim the Russian Presidency, a wave of satirical comment has swept the internet. Central to this development have been certain images, inspired by rumours of Putin's admiration for Brezhnev, and by a feeling that Russia might enter a period of Brezhnevian stagnation if Putin were to be re-elected as President.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Ne Boltai

An online archive of Soviet posters, including many caricatured images. The museum in Prague hosted an exhibition of Boris Efimov cartoons in 2005.

Deineka Exhibition

There seems to be a fair bit of interest around Aleksandr Deineka (1899-1969) at the moment. There was an exhibition at the Tretiakov in 2009, another exhibition in Rome in early 2011, and now another in Madrid. There were rumours that a Deineka show might go to the Tate.

Deineka at the Tretiakov, 2010.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

What makes a cartoon attractive?

What is it which makes a cartoon interesting and attractive to a viewer?

Cartoons, like any other piece of artwork, have to appeal aesthetically, but they are often (I'm thinking of cartoons by people like Gerald Scarfe) hideously unattractive.

Newspaper or editorial cartoons must also communicate a particular political opinion swiftly and unequivocally. Quite often, these political opinions refer to several different themes simultaneously.

These images come from New Zealand newspapers, published in mid-October 2011, at the time of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in NZ, a major maritime disaster involving a large container ship called the Rena which spilled oil onto NZ beaches, and the beginning of the general election campaign. The media followed every Rugby World Cup story (including injuries to key NZ All Blacks players) but other news items (including the Rena oil spill) were less thoroughly covered. Was this a manifestation of media obsession, genuine interest and national will, political manipulation, or simply a reflection of human priorities? That's another issue, perhaps, but these cartoons, produced in the same place at virtually the same time, refer to the same themes, and use the same strategies. I'm interested in which one is the most appealing to the viewer, and why?

Body, Great News, Eh?
Tom Scott, Rugby or Rena?
Body, Ooh Look - More Rugby!
I'd like to consider how aesthetic factors such as style, colour, action and text interact with elements such as the underlying political idea, humour, and the viewers own opinions and prejudices combine to produce an image which is appealing to the viewer. 

Oi You!

I recently visited Oi You! The Best of Urban Art from NZ and Around the World, in Nelson, NZ. This is relatively small exhibition, held in very pleasant surroundings. The gallery space, though not well lit, was appropriate and contributed something (albeit a little cliched) to the environment and the appreciation of the artworks. The show included three different collections, which broadened the appeal of the exhibition. Best of the World was undoubtedly the crowd-puller, and provided the most impressive works by far, but the pieces by Milton Springsteen (the unknown NZ artist working under a pseudonym) provided a pleasant surprise element of home interest. Never having seen much of Banksy before, I was really curious about his work. The quality of his work, in comparison with most of the rest of the work in the show, was very obvious. I'm still not entirely sure what it was which elevated his pieces above most of the others, however. His ideas were not more complex or sophisticated, and his execution was no more elaborate or skilful, but the difference on quality was clear.

Urban art's overlap with caricature and political cartooning was the aspect I was most interested in, and it has continued to strike me. Apart from the fact that urban/graffiti art is often political in essence, both urban art and political cartooning are meant to be easily consumable, instantly understandable but also immediately contemporary and therefore quickly outdated, ephemeral and disposable. Urban art and political art also both have links with comics art, of course, and use many of the same artistic conventions.

Furthermore, several of the pieces use images borrowed from, or at least very similar to (and probably directly influenced by) socialist realist art. Socialist realist kitsch has found a niche in modern urban art, and these pieces borrow from it in almost equal measure as they borrow from Lichtenstein.

Faile: Box 1

Cut Collective: 01

Indeed, one piece could have been lifted straight out of Krokodil. Soviet caricature artists made reference to atomic bombs, rockets and missiles in their works, and artists such as Yuli Ganf, Boris Efimov and Kukryniksy often drew characters where these weapons became body parts. Although Pinocchio (I don't think) ever appeared in Krokodil, this image could otherwise certainly have appeared there - many of the other elements of the image did - and the editors would have appreciated the idea behind the image.

Paul Insect: Who's To Blame?

Exhibition of cartoonists' art

Exhibition held earlier this year, featuring many of New Zealand's top cartoon artists. Hopefully a similar event will be held again next year.

The History of Political Cartoons

Very interesting YouTube video interview with Prof. Neil McWilliam on the nature of political cartooning and its history. 

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Efimov Memoirs

A website which has published Boris Efimov's memoirs online.

The name 'Krokodil'

I have not been able to find out definitively why the magazine was named 'Krokodil' in the first place. The theory most commonly propounded is that it derives from the crocodile in the story by Kornei Chukovsky (1916). I have no reason to disbelieve this, but another story named after, and about, a crocodile was written by Dostoevsky in 1865. The logical place to look for an authoritative explanation would be the first issues of the magazine, but they are extremely rare and I haven't seen an original - only excerpts quoted elsewhere. In one of these quotes, in a poem by Demian Bednyi, the magazine is named as 'the red crocodile' which identifies the magazine with the animalistic logo/character, but I wonder if any of the readers of this blog can answer this question? 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Behind The Iron Curtain:Satire

This is a post from a very interesting blog, which often posts items related to Krokodil and Soviet satire. (Thank you very much for doing so!) I am especially interested in the photos, showing the different ways in which Soviet caricature was consumed by viewers.

Behind The Iron Curtain:Satire

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Efimov - Stalin anecdote.

A famous Efimov anecdote, re-told in an article produced about the time of the artist's death.

Mexican cartoons

Not Soviet, but Victor Alba wrote an important article on Mexican cartoons in 1967, and it is interesting that here is another article on the significance and operation of cartoons in the Mexican political context.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Moscow Inc.

Article on Moscow's urban development and architectural history, of interest to anyone looking into Moscow as it appears in Krokodil.

Moscow Inc.

Interview with Vladimir Paperny

Very interesting interview with an extremely important cultural historian of the USSR. He makes some vital points about the nature of cultural memory, especially in Russia and USSR.

Interview with Vladimir Paperny

British satire

Article on 'Private Eye' - 50 years old. The Victoria & Albert Museum hosts a page on the exhibition, which features a video on the production of a cartoon for the magazine.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Views and Re-Views: Soviet Political Posters and Cartoons

This is a very interesting website based on an exhibition which includes some fascinating Soviet cartoon resources.

Russian: 1903-1991, 1902-1990, and 1903-, respectively
Platform for Nuclear Hysteria
Ink and collage on cardboard
15.6 x 12.7

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Крокодил in fiction and memoirs

Крокодил appears in some Soviet fiction and several memoirs. It is mentioned, for example, in Ch.14 of Ehrenburg's 'The Thaw', Margaret Harrison's 'Marooned in Moscow', and Donald J. Raleigh's 'Russia's Sputnik Generation'. Understanding the way Крокодил features in fiction and memoirs helps to provide a broader understanding of its cultural significance. Can anyone suggest other fictional works or memoirs in which Крокодил is mentioned?

There are lists of memoirs here and here - these works may have references to Krokodil but I have not yet read many of them.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Boris Efimov, 'For Enduring Peace', 1950

I recently purchased a copy of this book. There are some familiar images in it, and it is a fantastic resource.

The book is a collection of around 50 cartoon images.

The depiction of Winston Churchill in Efimov's 1950s cartoons is an interesting aspect of his work. Perhaps Churchill serves as an individual symbol of aggression and suspicion, rather than the personification of British foreign policy? Other representations of Britain dwindle (John Bull, a British lion, for example).

This picture, of Boris Efimov and his son, reading the book after its publication in 1950, appears in Efimov's autobiography.

Vladimir Motchalov

An online autobiography by Vladimir Motchalov, a Krokodil artist during the 1970s.

Boris Efimov Interview

A transcript of an interview with Boris Efimov.

Boris Efimov pages

Some pages featuring images and an online video interview with Boris Efimov, hosted by a group called EST La Memoria, with boasts the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History

Very useful and interesting site on key moments in Soviet history and culture, including some references to Soviet cartoons and caricature.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Review: 'Komiks: Comic Art in Russia'

Review of Jose Alaniz's book on Russian comics.

Boris Efimov film

Russian Comics online

Russian online cartoon archive. With an English version.

New Zealand Cartoon Archive

NZ's cartoon archive.

Welcome to the British Cartoon Archive - The British Cartoon Archive - University of Kent

Новый Крокодил - New Krokodil

This seems to be the website of Novy Krokodil, although I haven't explored it fully yet.

Comica: London International Comics Festival 2011

A very interesting looking event in London this summer.

Comics Studies at Dundee University

An MLitt in Comics Studies at Dundee University. Possibility of PhD studies there as well.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Studies in Comics

Comics at the University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow seems to have a growing Comics Studies interest.

University of Glasgow :: School of Modern Languages and Cultures :: Our staff :: Dr Laurence F Grove

Karikatura na sluzhbe so︠t︡sialisticheskogo stroitelʹstva : katalog vystavki / vstupitelʹnye statʹi M.Z. Manuilʹskogo i B.M. Nikiforova :: Rare Books Published in Imperial and early Soviet Russia

Fascinating catalogue on the significance of caricature and cartoons to building the socialist project in the eraly USSR, digitised and available for free online!

Karikatura na sluzhbe so︠t︡sialisticheskogo stroitelʹstva : katalog vystavki / vstupitelʹnye statʹi M.Z. Manuilʹskogo i B.M. Nikiforova :: Rare Books Published in Imperial and early Soviet Russia

The West in The Soviet Caricature: Libya Edition

The West in The Soviet Caricature: Libya Edition

The West in The Soviet Caricature: Israel

The West in The Soviet Caricature: Israel

Chicago Soviet Arts Experience

This looks like a fascinating series of events, including this one which refers to Soviet cartoons and posters.

Views and Re-Views: Soviet Political Posters and Cartoons - Calendar - Soviet Arts Experience

The Political Cartoon Society

The UK's Political Cartoon Society website.

Original Cartoons for Sale

Friday, 24 June 2011

Images of Peace and Nuclear War

Very interesting article on Soviet attitudes to, and representations of, the USA during the Cold War. This is a central theme in Krokodil during the period 1945-1990, and it was the stimulus for most of the academic and/or popular studies of the magazine, but it's a subject which now seems to be getting the revisions it deserves.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The St. Petersburg Times - Satire revisited

An article from 2005 on Новый Крокодил: the revival of Krokodil.

Dieselpunk: The Flying Crocodile

The USSR sponsored a squadron of propaganda aircraft which toured the country. Often they visited major cities, but they also visited areas affected by famine in the early 1930s. Some of the aircraft were named after Soviet news publications, and here is the aircraft named after Krokodil.

What I don't know is whether the publications in question actually sponsored the aircraft, but the decoration of this ANT-9 suggests perhaps they did.

Dieselpunk: The Flying Crocodile: "A Tupolev ANT-9 trimotor used in 1930s by the Soviet propaganda squadron. Named after the Krokodil (Crocodile) satyrical magazine, it was p..."

Another page about this aircraft here.

Soviet cartoonist Борис Ефимов

Here is a link to an article by film director Kevin McNeer, about his documentary 'Stalin Thought of You'. His film features the life and career of the USSR's pre-eminent cartoonist Boris Efimov.
Soviet cartoonist Boris Efimov

Krokodil and Russian folklore

Krokodil cartoons very often employed folkloric characters and themes. Soviet graphic satire owed much to pre-revolutionary popular prints...