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John Bull's Animated Sketch Book

John Bull's Animated Sketch Book

The hand of the artist tweaks the nose of “Kaiser Bill” and friends in this episode from an early animated propaganda series

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1916 10 mins Silent

Overview

The British lion, bulldog, and old John Bull himself are joined by the hand of artist Anson Dyer in this episode from an early cartoon propaganda series. The mixture of lightning sketches and cut-outs may seem primitive, but it showcases the draughtsmanship of the artist and allows him some delightful interaction with his own drawings. Dyer even draws a caricature of himself, palette in hand, to make a joke about the blackout – a somewhat forgotten feature of the WWI home front.

The subjects of other gags in this short include “The Blues” of the British Navy - Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and Admiral Sir David Beatty. The “Knuts” at John Bull’s coconut shy represent the Central powers: Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Kaiser Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire, and Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria. The fifth head is almost certainly Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, who features as the bungling Kaiser’s son in a number of similar cartoons of this period.