Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2011

Krokodil Banners

Krokodil front page title banners, 1922-1991

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, pol…

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 sophisticat…

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?