Krokodil magazine was an illustrated Soviet satirical journal, published in the USSR between 1922 and 1991. This blog is related to my PhD project. I am interested in political cartoons and caricature, and satirical journals in general, but specifically the operation of the medium in the Soviet context. I investigate Krokodil in relation to theories of carnival, transmediality and performativity.
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Krokodil (Crocodile) was the USSR’s most famous and longest-running satirical journal. Itwas first published as the illustrated Sunday supplement for a newspaper on 4 June 1922. Originally called Rabochii (The Worker), then renamed Rabochaia Gazeta like its parent newspaper, the supplement was humorous from the beginning. Satire, mainly in the form of cartoons and poems, featured heavily in the magazine, with one-colour illustrations in its first seven issues. As circulation increased, the editors became convinced of the need for a regular independently numbered journal, and the magazine appeared as Krokodil No.1 (13) for the first time on 27 August 1922 (Stykalin and Kremenskaia 1963: 176-179). The red crocodile pictured on the first edition’s front cover thereafter symbolized the aims of the magazine itself.
Krokodil cartoons very often employed folkloric characters and themes. Soviet graphic satire owed much to pre-revolutionary popular prints, and in some cases, Krokodil images were composed in the graphic style of Russian folk arts. In other cartoons, Soviet satirical commentary was enacted by Russian folk tale characters.
Russian folk characters were thus reimagined in a modern satirical context, and the combination of discourses created unique visions of both old and new. Stalinist folklore/'fakelore' (Dorson 1950) co-opted folk heroes in the service of the Soviet state, but Krokodil's use of these characters was satirical and thus markedly different.
Ded Moroz and Snegoruchka also commonly appeared in Soviet satire, celebrating the turn of the New Year, or warning about the change in seasons.
Countless cartoons visualised anthropomorphised animals, but a number of images also referred to less famous Russian folk tales.
Perhaps the most frequent appearances were made by …