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Publisher: COTTON, W.
Title: Carriers of the New Black Plague.
Published in: Chicago, 1938
Size: 11.9 x 20.7 inches.
30.2 x 52.6 cm.

Colour printed.
Condition: With center fold as issued. Very good.
Condition Rating

A powerful satirical commentary on totalitarian control of speech from the first issue of Ken Magazine. "Caught here in all their peculiar beauty by the soul searching stylus of W. Cotton, Ken holds up for wonder the mangy motley pack of little 'strong men' who are now leading the world on a backward march to the Dark Ages. . . . In effect, over more than half the world, Liberty is now in totalitarian Eclipse."
Each country is characterized by the degree of "dictatorial control" over communication. Each of the totalitarian leaders is named and shamed ("His Blood-red Loneliness, Nobody's Comrade, Stalin

This pictorial map is colour-coded to show the extent of the "black plague" across the world.
A key at bottom shows three categories of free speech: dictatorial control (black), varying degrees of control (gray), and relative freedom (tan). The map reveals that slightly more than half of the globe is in "Totalitarian Eclipse."
Within the map image are ten of these dictators "whose ten totaled brains wouldn't counterbalance that of one Einstein in the measurement of man's distance from the anthropoid ape" including Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and Stalin (by himself).

The verso contains a satirical portrait of Hermann Goring, a powerful military figure in the Nazi Party who eventually became Hitler's second in command, and a wartime illustration based upon a painting by George Grosz.

Drawn by William Henry Cotton (1880-1938) and issued in the very first edition of Ken Magazine (April 7, 1938), a controversial anti-fascist magazine.

Ken was founded in March 1938 by publisher David A. Smart and editor Arnold Gingrich, who earlier had founded Esquire. Initial publication was delayed due to difficulties in assembling an editorial team.
Jay Allen was the first editor hired, and he began to assemble a staff drawing heavily from the political left. Smart and Gingrich found his work unsatisfactory and quickly fired Allen and most of his new men, replacing him with George Seldes; but as Seldes's left-wing views provoked little sympathy from potential advertisers, he was soon downgraded although not fired.

Microbe Hunters author Paul de Kruif was brought on as an editor, but was not able to devote full-time to the project. Smart and Gingrich then took more direct editorial control and launched the magazine with contributors including Seldes, Ernest Hemingway, John Spivak, Raymond Gram Swing, Manuel Komroff, critic Burton Rascoe, and sportswriter Herb Graffis.
Sam Berman contributed caricatures, and David Low cartoons.
Some of the politicians with photo layouts in the magazine included Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Grover Cleveland, Thomas Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt and as well as many prominent people in German politics.
The publication was investigated 1938 for being Communist leaning. However its editor Arnold Gingrich denied that the publication had any political slant.
The magazine failed in August 1939 as a result of wariness by advertisers and a boycott by the Catholic Church.

More about cartographical curiosities [+]

Reference: PJ Mode Collection, 1268; Baptista 2009, 109-115.

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COTTON, W. - Carriers of the New Black Plague.

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