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GOOD MORNING 1919-1922
The end of World War I in 1918-1919 set off a global wave of revolution, lead by the Bolsheviks in Russia and newly formed Communist Parties across the world. In the United States a massive wave of strikes in 1919 and helped fuel the wide-spread belief that revolution was immanent, a fear that terrorized the dreams of monopoly capitalists, racist nativists and countersubversive politicians. A wave of ideological censorship, the mass arrests of radicals, lynchings and race riots, and the violent suppression of labor strikes followed in what is today known as the Red Scare of 1916-1922. The Red Scare marked the violent defeat and dismemberment to the American labor movement and socialist Left. With most radical papers and journals banned from the mail, Art Young launched the innocuously titled Good Morning (1919-1923). “We thought it time to satirize the whole capitalistic works,” recalled Art Young upon launching Good Morning. “Not with subtle analysis of conditions in essays and the like, but with straightforward exposé in cartoons and comment, and with comedy rampant.” This work represents the high-point of Art’s political-artistic autonomy and activism.
In an effort to disguise Good Morning as an ordinary comic magazine, Art Young created a number of recurring series and strips. "Wisdom of the Poor Fish," written by Young himself, mocked the self-defeatist logic of the petty-bourgeois and middle class timidity in a time of revolutionary upheaval. For the Poor Fish, life may be hard, but change is always harder, yet the capitalist's fantasy future is ever bright.
As Art said of the Poor Fish: "There is nothing more difficult than to argue with one who as renounced reason."
The capitalist press threw fits over Bolshevik horrors like socializing marriage (false) and legalizing abortion (true). While the radical press celebrated the Soviet Revolution as the first of what all anticipated would be the first of many revolutionary worker's states. Good Morning mocked the fall of the old Czarist aristocracy in a cartoon series entitled "Society Notes from Moscow." Maintaining the tony script of the society pages, these cartoons welcomed the social reversal in which the aristocracy learns to carry itself into the "dust bin of history." Perhaps this cartoonist dreamed of such sights on 5th Avenue?
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