Monday, May 15, 2006

This World of Creepers

Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, has an essay in Harper's this month titled "Drawing Blood", on the Danish cartoon bushwa and the bizarre monkey-see monkey-riot fallout it evinced. It's a nice piece, but I will be forever indebted to him for his introduction in it of the ARTyoungsocialist cartoonist Art Young, whose work has an incredible ferocity and vibrance that still resonates. On the first page of the essay is a color reproduction of one of Young's cartoons circa 1907, "This World of Creepers", which shows a mass of sepia-clad worrywarts cringing on hands and knees as they crawl across the landscape, wind blowing up a darkling sky, dead tree in the background, and the single word "Fear" etched over their cowering heads. The caption reads:

"Afraid of themselves, and of others, afraid of the Almighty, of life, and of death."

Yeah. That's us.

Below is another of his works, for the early 20th century magazine "The Masses." It shows a male ape with a newspaper on which the headline "War" is prominent, telling his wife:
"Mother, never let me hear you tell the children that these humans are descendants of ours."

And even though it's not one of his, here's another one from "The Masses" circa 1916, that seems especially relevant in these days of right-wing religious zealots and war-loving McCarthyites. The artist is Boardman Robinson, and the title is "The Deserter":

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