January 22, 2012

The Great War Frankenstein



This editorial cartoon appeared on the front page of the original Washington Times — no relation to the current newspaper of that name — on May 12, 1918. The Kaiser figure in ceremonial uniform — “Afraid that the monster of his own creation will destroy him” — cowers from a looming giant wearing an eerie-looking gasmask, wielding a bomb, poison gas and “liquid fire”, a term describing gasoline or naphtha-spitting flamethrowers, sometimes mounted on airplanes.

The Frankenstein comment refers to Germany’s own attack strategies being used against it, The Monster effectively turning on its creator. “Germany is suggesting mutual cessation of air raids and gas attacks now that we have secured the ascendancy in both”. There would be six more months of horrific warfare until Armistice, in November.

The original Washington Times, first published in 1884, went through a succession of owners including, for a time, William Randolph Hearst. Eventually called The Washington-Times Herald, it was absorbed by The Washington Post in the 1950s.

The striking pen and ink drawing is signed, but I can’t make out the name. Can anybody ID the artist?

No comments: