March 27, 2015

Shock and Draw: Here’s the graphic cartoon U.S. airdropped on ISIS

By Nicholas Heras

IN THE Martin Scorsese-directed “Life Lessons,” within the larger film“New York Stories,” a grizzled abstract painter played by Nick Nolte is cleaned-up and charismatic in tux and tales – yes, tales, because a man with an ego the size of his Manhattan loft has to lubricate his big exhibition opening not only with Smirnoff’s Gold, but also silver tongue. And fortunately for Nolte’s “action” artist, Lionel Dobie, he has literal war stories to tell these bejeweled patrons — shaggy anecdotes about how his X-rated doodles were once dropped beyond enemy lines, as renderings intended to deflate the fighting hearts and minds and cartoon-helpless eyes of the humble foot soldier.

Airdropped wartime propaganda dates back decades – including leaflets being emptied from a French balloon over 19th-century Prussian troops. And cartoons notably filled the strafed skies during World War II, whenanti-Nazi leaflets with Hebrew-text drawings represented one type of psychological airstrike. So deploying caricatures and cartoon iconography easily interpreted even by illiterate troops is certainly nothing new.

Yet still, it can be bracing to see a newly deployed cartoon that puts the “graphic” in graphic arts.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

  • Nicholas Heras

    Fellow, Middle East Security Program

    Nicholas A. Heras is a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), working in the Middle East Security Program. He is also a Senior Analyst at the Jamestown Found...