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Cartoon Essay : Drawing on Life in Moscow

August 31, 1993|Roman Genn

Although born and raised in Moscow, I had not been there for more than two years when I returned this summer. I wondered: What has it turned into? What does it look like? What are the changes brought by capitalism after an absence of more then 70 years?

During my college days, I used to sell cartoons on the streets of Moscow. When I left two years ago, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was still in the Kremlin, and we could not draw cartoons of him because of an official order "defending the honor of the presidency." Now cartoonists can draw Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin naked or any other way--racier than you could do in America.

The Soviet Union's red flag was not an antique then. Now vendors sell it to the tourists because they figure it's old stuff that's never going to come back.

Two years ago, society had only started to split between the very rich and the very poor. The era of Stone Age capitalism was yet to come.

I walked around, making little drawings of a city that was not mine any more, drawings of the new life in this big flea market that used to be the heart of the "evil empire."

Here are some of my drawings and observations.

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