Graphic Satire in the Soviet UnionKrokodil's Political Cartoons

Graphic Satire in the Soviet UnionKrokodil's Political Cartoons

John Etty

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9781496820525

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Krokodil produced state-sanctioned satirical comments on Soviet and international affairs from 1922 onward. Authored by professional and non-professional contributors, and published by Pravda in Moscow, it became the satirical magazine with the largest circulation in the world. Every Soviet citizen and every scholar of the USSR was familiar with Krokodil as the most significant and influential source of graphic satire in the USSR. This book uses an original framework for reconsidering the forms, production, consumption, and functions of Krokodil magazine. It considers the magazine's content, structures and conventions; it also uses modern cultural and media theory to look beyond content analysis to consider visual language and the performative construction of character. Empirical analysis of Krokodil is thus used to extend and nuance our understanding of Soviet graphic satire beyond state-sponsored propaganda. In several ways, this book challenges existing approaches. It conducts close readings of a large range of different types of cartoons that have not before been discussed in depth, and it does so in ways that reveal new insights. It shows that Krokodil's satire was complex, subtle and intermedial. It highlights the importance of Krokodil's readers' and artists' collaborative exploration and shaping of the boundaries of permissible discourse, and it argues that Krokodil's cartoons simultaneously affirmed, refracted and critiqued official discourses, counterposing them with visions of Soviet citizens' responses. Ideology, Krokodil's satire suggests, is an interpretive tool for negotiating everyday reality and official discourses, and it was not always to be taken seriously.