On the basis of a corpus of 352 political cartoons published during the First World War in the British
Punch and its German equivalent,
Simplicissimus, the book presents a detailed, comparative study of cartoons in their historical context. The aim of the cartoons is to level invectives against the war enemy. Many of these are based on traditional stereotypes such as the Prussian militarist or the callous British businessman or colonialist. On the one hand, these stereotypes serve as reference points and on the other, they are thus further entrenched in the minds of the readers. The way in which the invectives are presented in the drawn scenes and their interplay with the headings and the captions elucidates the cultural differences with regard to humor, irony and sarcasm. The ideological background of the cartoons is betrayed by the way they simplify and manipulate reality.
Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2002. 242 pp., num. fig. and tables
Contents: Cartoons exploit three key processes, i.e. condensation, combination and domestication. Like
metaphors they compress a complex phenomenon into a single image that is purported to capture its essence graphically. The
interplay of these three meaning constituting elements results in invectives against an opponent. The invectives in the British
and German cartoons under scrutiny are surprisingly similar; only, they show a difference in distribution. This also applies
to the verbal and pictorial means, i.e. the chosen scenes and their relationships to the headings and the captions, which
reveal the cultural differences in humor, irony and sarcasm.