A Serio-Comic Map for Today

europe map 2016-600


Maps in the Serio-Comic genre began to emerge in Europe in the mid-1850s. The earliest appeared in Holland and France followed by similar maps in England, Russia, Japan, and Germany. The maps were intended as humorous overviews of the political environment, often poking fun at the outsized personalities depicted. The most typical theme presents disarray in continental Europe while Russia, usually a monster or other imposing figure, threatens from the east. Probably the most prominent maker of serio-comic maps was the Englishman, Fred Rose, whose maps first appeared in 1877 and popularized the depiction of Russia as a gigantic grasping octopus. These themes were later taken up by Japanese and Persian cartographers, who issued their own take on the Serio-Comic Map. The Russian cartoonist Kordig even issued an interesting Russian rebuttal to Rose, presenting the powers of western Europe as weak and decadent while Russia is a powerful angelic figure defending her people.

We were delighted when one of our clients sent us this modern take on the serio-comic Map. Here Russia is once again a threat, this time represented as a lumbering bear who bears a striking resemblance to Vladimir Putin. The coverage is expanded beyond Europe to encapsulate the Eastern part of the United States, where the American president Donald Trump blows hot air on Europe while tearing up the NATO treaty. England, struggling with Brexit, takes the form of a sinking rowboat overloaded with wealth. France is beset by the terroristic threat of Isis. Poland and the Baltic States push back Russia with guns and sticks. An army of refugees swarms through southeastern Europe towards Germany. Greece is a beggar and Portugal and Spain, typical of these maps, are asleep.