Political octopus in pop culture: “The Grand Map” in Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, and art by Keith Thompson. The map shows Northern Africa and the land below (or part of) “Serbia” as depicted by squid-like creatures. You can see it in its full and glorious detail at Scott Westerfeld’s blog, where it is accompanied by information on how and why […]

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Boer War postcard (1899/1900) Postcard from series ‘La Guerre du Transvaal’. Depicts Transvaal lion as biting British octopus. All other colonies in thrall to the octopus and entangled in its arms. The caption says: ‘Tu as cette fois Albion, En face de toi un Lion’ (You have this time Albion, in front of you a Lion.)

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Another quick post: I just received a note that says this poster is currently hanging in the quad of the University of California during the current occupation of the Santa Cruz campus. You can find more information (reports, videos, photos) on the occupation at Socialism and/or Barbarism and Occupy California. It is a rare positive depiction of the monstrous […]

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“The Octopus Which Feeds On War And Emergency” flyer printed 19521 by the Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon. It relates to the US “police action” in the Korean War. Argues that the Truman administration  had grown “monstrous” feeding on emergencies that the administration was creating, whilst its bureaucratic tentacles threatened the liberty of its citizens. The administration in power has grown to […]

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Octopus as Chimera

Just a few rough ideas based on hybridity in political cartoons of octopus and other in order to develop a nomenclature for the different types of “octopuses” that appear in political cartoons. With the exception of the human/octopus combination, hybridity only makes up a small proportion of monstrous octopuses in political cartoons. To dehumanise (i.e. […]

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Subterfuge

The octopus is often drawn as intelligent, mendacious and deceitful. The octopus tries to present itself as something other than an octopus. These include: appearing as the bearer of gifts in the Forty Thieves, as a Trojan Horse, misdirection in the “Hunting the Octopus” or as treasure on an island. This was a relatively common […]

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Editorial heading cartoon by Winsor McCay (date unknown) taken from Golden Age Comic Book Stories piece on Winsor McCay (via lines and colors). I don’t think context needs to be provided for this one: not exactly subtle.

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The Mongolian Octopus – His Grip on Australia (1886) Artist Phillip May, Published in The Bulletin on the 21st August 1886. The arms labelled: “Customs Robbery”, “Fan-Tan“, “Opium”, “Small-Pox”, “Immorality”, “Pak Ah-Pu“, “Cheap Labour” This cartoon was apparently reworked to demonstrate demonisation of ethnic groups in modern cartoons: Geoff Pryor, editorial cartoonist for the Canberra […]

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“The Yellow Peril” published in the “New Zealand Truth” on the 16th of February 1907. The arms are labelled “greed”, “licentiousness”, “opium traffic”, “brutality” and “evil habits”. The cartoon shows a Chinese octopus reaching out of a cave across water to New Zealand and entangling a Maori woman. Image Source: “The Yellow Peril” (1907) Te Papa – […]

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“What Shall We Do With Our Boys?” (1882) The following is from: The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library1: San Francisco received many Chinese immigrants because of its geographic position and the economic opportunities California offered. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a proposal to outlaw most Chinese immigration was under debate at this time […]

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