by Vladimir KAZANEVSKY / Ukraine

Vladimir Kazanevsky

Coronavirus is a serious test not only for all mankind, but for the art of cartoon also. A coronacartoon pandemic swept the inquisitive minds of cartoonists in all corners of our planet. Thousands of cartoons have appeared in a few last months the heroes of which were the coronavirus and related pandemic events. Such cartoons filled the Internet. They sharply reflected the crisis which is increasingly manifested in the art of cartoon in recent years. Spherical image has become very seductive for creating typical cartoons. Well-known techniques for creating comic effects are easily traced in coronacartoons. Such techniques were described by A. Koestler and other scientists. V. Raskin and S. Attardo created a whole theory called the “General Theory of Verbal Humor”. Their reasoning came down to the search for two independent concepts in which there is one similar “something”. In the case of cartoons, this “something” is a visual resemblance most often. This common “something” can cause laughter. Since the coronaviruses have a spherical form, a spherical object can be this “something” in two independent concepts. Cartoonists eagerly used this image as an easy prey for the discovering of comic effects. Of course, cartoonists immediately noticed that the Earth and other planets are also spherical in shape. Dozens of cartoons in which the Earth had shown as a huge coronavirus have created by various artists. Artists tried to show the astonished viewers the planetary scale of the pandemic in such cartoons. The artists had attached outgrowths to a spherical Earth. Then they made a large-scale metamorphosis: turned a microscopic virus into a macroscopic planet. And the cartoon is ready! Resourceful artists turned the coronavirus into the Sun and other space objects. Naturally, dozens of artists sent coronaviruses in the form of meteorites to the surface of our planet, hinting at the alien origin of these fateful objects. After the artists turned the coronavirus into a modest tourist who began to travel the globe from China to other countries, for example, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Germany.

A tragic old woman with a scythe has appeared in the second wave of coronacartoons. It’s easiest to draw a coronavirus instead of a skull. Fortunately, they are similar in form. The main attribute of stereotypical Death since the middle ages is a sharp scythe. Why not replace the typical instrument of Death with morning star flail? After all, a metal ball with spikes is so similar to a coronavirus! The cartoonists did it. And off we go. They began to award Death with orders-coronaviruses, sculpt explosives in the form of coronavirus on a Death-terrorist … The Death loved to play various “coronavirus” games with people, the main bet in which was their miserable life…

Cartoonists could not do without medical masks. In this huge group of cartoons both the visual similarity of one “something” in two concepts was used, as well as the mental. If a protective medical mask can be used to protect against human virus infection, why not protect inanimate objects in the same way? Cartoonists began to sculpt masks left and right. Mona Lisa have been rescued by compassionate cartoonists one of the first. Caring artists have saved Mona Lisa with medical masks. The coronaviruses floating in the air around the heroine of the painting by Leonardo da Vinci were added. Expensive masks made by well-known European model firms have been created by the imagination of cartoonists. Ladies in chic medical masks of original styles began to pace the catwalks. The easiest way was to put a mask on our planet, of course. Dozens of cartoonists were seduced by this idea. It is not necessary to speak about plagiarism in this case. Pandemic hysteria captured artists across the planet almost simultaneously. They created their masterpieces independently of each other, from an excess of pandemic feelings. We are talking more about the stereotypical thinking of cartoonists here. The pandemic seemed to expose the crisis in the Art of cartoon. Stereotypical cartoons were created not only by novice authors, but also venerable ones. When there was information that through banknotes you can become infected with a coronavirus, the cartoonists immediately put on masks on the faces of the presidents depicted in American dollars.

Another topic for cartoonists has been the desperate struggle of brave doctors with a pandemic. By the way, I would like to say many thanks to the doctors for this! This group of cartoons was dominated by a doctor armed with a huge syringe, who entered the battle with the coronavirus-monster. More often, the doctor-bullfighter fought with the coronavirus-bull. Onetime a brave doctor crawled to the coronavirus which look like the bomb and tried to neutralize it. The cartoonists also recalled the outdated comic scene “a man hit on the head from around the corner.” In our case, the doctor waved a huge syringe, or a book called “Science”, to hit the carefree coronavirus from around the corner.

The first hysterical waves of coronacartoons subsided and artists began to compete in originality. A pandemic is a pandemic, but political life still exists, albeit in a somewhat frozen form. What is coronavirus if not World Evil? What about U.S. President Donald Trump? After all, he personifies Evil too. The cartoonists crossed the coronavirus with Trump. They put a coronavirus in his head instead of a brain. The personification of the coronavirus has begun. Evil is seen in the face of other world leaders for some artists. Cartoonists crossed the coronavirus with Vladimir Putin, Boris Johnson and Adolf Hitler. Witty artists did not forget about the Statue of Liberty. For example, they put a medical mask in the form of the US flag on her.

Finally, cartoonists started to remember the easily recognizable, the most seductive, convenient for creating comical effects images. Stereotypical heroes of cartoons were interbred by artists with corresponding coronavirus pandemics images. Is a heavy metal nucleus attached to the prisoner’s foot doesn’t look like a coronavirus? Fortune-telling lamp also has a spherical shape. Foot-ball, basket-ball, volley-ball, tennis balls, billiard balls are also rounding, also may resemble coronavirus. Why not play with the coronavirus? The liar Baron Munchausen cheerfully jumped on the coronavirus like on a cannonball and flew. The Little Prince has settled on the coronavirus planet. The skull of Yorick in Hamlet’s hand turned into a coronavirus. There was found a place for the coronavirus on the nose of the Jester etc. Many cartoonists, like the author of these lines, could not resist to use these seductive images in their creation. Where to hide a person from the coronavirus during quarantine? Guessed it? The uninhabited island beloved by the cartoonists is waiting! The cartoonists did not forget about Diogenes with his barrel. What about Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf? He looks like a coronavirus. Pandemic quarantine prompted artists to address the issue of racism. The artist has drawn black-skinned citizen covered by white medical mask and a fair-skinned one covered by black mask. Such stereotypical cartoons created in recent months are difficult to count. Can be that such images as Don Quixote and his mill, Pinocchio, Babylon Tower and Tower of Pisa remained untouched yet? Biblical subjects are still poorly embraced by the coronacartooning searches. The various superheroes of well-known comics have not yet come to grips with the coronavirus. However, I managed to see only the tip of the Iceberg with the name CORONACARTOONS.

The wave of coronacartoons continues to expand. Cartoonists from around the world create similar cartoons, not really caring about heuristic. Therefore, we see so many works repeating each other. Cartoons are becoming more and more “light”, superficial. This desire of artists to simplified creativity is welcoming by the Internet. After all, it is difficult for an artist to resist the temptation to put on display his new creation, which often seems to him to be brilliant.

The coronavirus pandemic exposed the flaws of the social arrangements of democratic countries, and especially totalitarian regimes. The pandemic also once again pointed to an acute crisis in the Art of Modern Cartoon, which has turned into a more or less successful juggling with stereotyped images and primitive messages to humanity.


Mona_LisaCartoons by Tom Stinglich / USA;
Sun Shen Ying / China;   Tyud Tahyuddin / Indonesia;   Shahid Atiqullgh / Afghanistan



(author is a top Ukrainian cartoonist, theorist of Cartoon Art and renowned lecturer, giving lectures around the world)


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