Saturday, July 18, 2009

He Eats Firecrackers

I'm in over my head trying to understand recent Chinese history, but I'm just trying to find correlations with Kelly's point of view. Graphically Mao is portrayed as a sort of Happy Buddha with a military cap. Below, known as a Mao cap, it is an obvious icon associated with the man:
Running around wearing a towel could partly be connected with a Happy Buddha image, but I wonder if it might be associated with Mao's famous swim of the Yangtze River in July of 1966, when Mao was 73:

The swim was part of the launch of the Cultural Revolution, and an effort to convince the world that he was indeed still alive, and was a force to be reckoned with, as he was reported to swim 9 miles in 65 minutes, accompanying 5000 young swimmers in the annual race across the river.

Seeing the chairman in the almost altogether * maybe * sparked Kelly's notion of a costume for the caricature? Maybe not, but it was in the news around the time Kelly would have been drawing these strips.


  1. The photo shows a "Mao cap", but Kelly isn't drawing one in these strips (I'm not talking about the star---the shape & construction is totally off).

    The hat he draws here is more like the kind Castro wore...

  2. I saw that and was why I first referred to it as a 'military cap'. In fact that is also the kind of cap U.S. army and marines wore at the time.

    My reference to the Mao cap was meant for the photo and I am adding the word 'below' to the sentence to clarify that.

    I'm figuring the cap drawings were just a Kelly generalization, as he was wont to do.