We have just lived through one hundred years since the fateful ANZAC landing at Z Beach on the Gallipoli Peninsula, April 1915. My thoughts turned once again to find the public's attitude to the war at the time. I have been studying Australian cartoons of the period with their mix of populism, wit and symbolism.
My favourite has to be the Direct Action union publication's cartoon by Syd Nicholls in 1915. http://www.takver.com/history/iwwinoz1.htm Titled 'Long Live the War,' it features a soldier crucified on some war machine, bleeding into a fat rich banker's chalice. A large version of it is reproduced in 'The Other Side of The Coin' A cartoon history of Australia, by Jonathan King, Cassell Aust Ltd. 1976. In 1915 Tom Barker, the Editor, went to jail for publishing it. Today we hear of the 'soldiers sacrifice in the defense of our democracy.' There wasn't much evidence of democracy with the War Precautions Act that reduced press freedom during that terrible war. Now in Australia with terrorism scaremongering, the government is removing freedoms once again, tampering with secrecy provisions, metadata retention, and threatening to revoke citizenship.
In the Bulletin, Norman Lindsay caricatured the Kaiser as 'chief skull gatherer.' I can't find it on the web, but I found it the library in 'Norman Lindsay War Cartoons 1914-1918' by Peter Fullerton, Melbourne University Press ,Carlton, Vic, Aus. It shows the proud Kaiser among thousands of skulls, hinting at atrocious carnage. It is odd because it was published very early in the war, Sept 1914, before the real slaughter took place. It is beautifully drawn with Wilhelm standing, uniformed and postured. Cruel but fair, throughout the war Lindsay was portraying the Kaiser as a villain for recruitment purposes. As the War dragged on, he drew the Kaiser more gaunt, hunched, and haunted.
Grace Crossington Smith's series of drawings known as 'the great illusion' parody the Kaiser as a ranting buffoon and feature the patient British Empire as a lion licking its paws. Samples can be found at http://www.nga.gov.au/Exhibition/cossingtonsmith . For an Australian artist it shows how a hundred years ago we still felt very much part of the empire. Non cyberspace copies can be found in 'A not so genteel pen, Grace Crossington Smith's British-Australian cartoons, by Catherine Speck. It is a chapter in the small work, Projections of Britain in the USA, Aust and new Zealand 1900-1950. Lythrum Press, Adelaide 2008. Crossington Smith was also scathing in her caricature/criticism of US President Wilson, mocking his jotting down of 14 points instead of doing something about the conflict.
My cartoon this time uses Lindsay's Kaiser Wilhelm as inspiration and is my reply to our government's response to the ISIS crisis. Titled 'Still painting villains,' it reflects on the propaganda war and the fact that one hundred years on, nothing has changed.