'October 1917 - October 1920. Long Live the Worldwide Red October!' (1920).

Dmitry Moor was a Russian graphic artist, poster designer and cartoonist, also known as D. Moor ("Д. Моор"). During the 1900s and 1910s he was a comics pioneer, making satirical comics ridiculing the Czarist regime and censorship. Under the Soviet regime he became one of the most celebrated propaganda artists. Both during the First and the Second World War he ridiculed the German army. In his work Moor often made use of sequential illustrated narratives or comics. He was the house cartoonist of magazines like Budilnik and later Bezbozhnik.

Early life and career
He was born in 1883 as Dmitry Stakhikyevich Orlov in Novocherkassk (a city nowadays in the region of Rostov Oblast). His father was a mining engineer who in 1898 moved to Moscow. Orlov studied law at the University of Moscow, but dropped out to set up an underground print shop. In 1910 he attended P.I. Kelin's schooling studio, not far from Mamontov's Printing House. His main graphic influence was Olaf Gulbransson. Orlov's earliest caricatures were published in 1907, most appearing in the satirical magazine Budilnik, where he soon rose to become house cartoonist. He assumed the pseudonym "Dmitry Moor", a reference to the character Moor from Friedrich Schiller's play 'The Robbers'. He tried to establish his own satirical magazine Volynka, modelled after the German magazine Simplicissimus.

Moor's early work was already biting and therefore frequently banned by the Czarist regime. As a reaction, he made a little comic book, 'Humorist and Finger' (1911), which satirized censorship. In 1914 he made another illustrated sequential narrative, 'Kak Chort Ogorod Gorodil' ('How the Devil Guarded the Garden', 1914), which ridiculed the instigators of the First World War. Franz Joseph I of Austria, Wilhelm II of Germany and a group of soldiers morph into respectively a potato, an onion (or a turnip) and mushrooms. It seems that Moor was inspired by Honoré Daumier, who made a similar morphing cartoon a century earlier, targeting the French king Louis Philippe.


'How the Devil Guarded the Garden' (1914).

Soviet propaganda
In 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out. The Czarist regime was disbanded and replaced by the first Communist republic in the world. Like many Russian artists, Moor too became part of the Soviet propaganda system. In 1918 the Soviet Union established the Russian Telegraph Agency, often shorted to "ROSTA". It was part state news agency, part propaganda production. ROSTA had its own series of stenciled pamphlets under the name Okna Rosta ("Rosta Window"), which often featured satirical propaganda drawings, cartoons and comics with text in captions. Most focused on topical events, unavoidably promoting the Communist regime. Other works were apolitical and offered reliable educational information too. At the time, large parts of Russia hadn't been industrialized yet. Many civilians were uneducated illiterates, vastly unaware of modern-day developments. Easy to comprehend drawings were therefore a useful way to reach and inform the masses about the benefits of modern equipment, basic hygiene, vaccination, health care and learning how to read and write. Apart from Moor, ROSTA and Okna Rosta also ranked artists like Mikhail Cheremnykh, Viktor Deni, Yuliy Ganf, Alexey Komarov, Ivan Maliutin, Vladimir Lebedev, Nikolai Kogout, Vladimir Mayakovsky (who often wrote the texts), Amshey Nurenberg, Alexander Rodchenko and Mikhail Volpin among their contributors.

Moor excelled in stunning propaganda posters and specialized in anti-religious satire, since the Soviet Union was atheist in nature. Between 1923 and 1928 he was even art director of Bezbozhnik, the best known anti-religion magazine of Soviet Russia, published by the League of Militant Atheists. His posters were often attached to the entry halls of churches. Moor also contributed cartoons to the newspaper Pravda and the satirical magazine Krokodil. From 1922 on, he worked as a teacher at the Higher Art and Technical Studios, Printing Institute and the Surikov Art Institute. It's somewhat ironic that the former anti-censorship advocate now joined a regime whose censorship laws were certainly no less strict.


'Tsarskiye Polki i Krasnaya Arimya' ('Tsar's Regiments and the Red Army', 1919).

Sequential illustrated narratives
Some of Moor's graphic work makes use of sequential narratives. 'Khleb nam dast tol'ko Krasnaya Armiya' ('Only the Red Army Will Give Us Bread', 1919), for instance, shows general Denikin in the top image, controlling Southern Russia, a region known for its bread production. The lower image has Denikin lose weight and power, because the Red Army helps the people rise against him. Some sources credit this particular poster to Nikolai Pomansky, though an exhibit in the Ul'yanovsk Museum attributes it to Moor. Another poster making use of juxtaposing images is 'Tsarskiye Polki i Krasnaya Arimya' ('Tsar's Regiments and the Red Army', 1919), where the "evil" Czarist army is contrasted with the "good" Red Army. 'The Devil Doll' (January 1920) shows a soldier pointing his bayonet at a looming monster in the first panel. However, in the second it turns out to be the weak and insignificant enemies of the state behind a pathetic mask and cloak.


'The Devil Doll' (January 1920).

In 1920 Moor made a two-panel poster to celebrate the recent successes of the Red Army the past years: 'October 1917 - October 1920. Long Live the Worldwide Red October!' (1920). Closer to modern comics are the posters 'Trud' and 'Sovetskaya Repka'. 'Trud' ('Labor', 1920), is a sequential text story told in five long strips without frames. It shows how the workers rise against capitalism. In 'Sovetskaya Repka' ('The Gigantic Soviet Turnip', 1920) several images show a capitalist and sympathizers trying to pull out a red turnip. In the final panel the turnip is revealed to be a Red Army soldier, who just blows them all away with ease. In an undated cartoon from the mid-1930s, Moor again used a two-panel picture story predicting how the Five Year economic reform plan will scare and surprise the bourgeoisie in the future.


'Trud' ('Labor', 1920).

World War II
In 1938 Russia and Nazi Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which ensured that both countries would stay neutral in each others affairs and wouldn't attack each other during a military conflict. However, in 1941 Hitler broke his promise and invaded Russia. Joseph Stalin was completely caught by surprise, as he was badly prepared for such an attack. However, the Russian army instantly fought back. The ROSTA news agency quickly established a special unit to produce motivational posters and propaganda cartoons. Moor was one of many artists who supported their motherland through anti-Nazi propaganda posters.

Other illustration work
Outside his political work, Moor also designed film posters in the same mezmerizing style. He additionally illustrated the poems 'Debate' (1929) by Gottfried Heine and 'Good' (1940) by V.V. Majakovski, as well as the novel 'The Tale of Igor's Campaign' (1944).

Death and legacy
Dmitry Moor passed away in Moscow in 1946. Nearly two decades later, his autobiography 'I am a Bolshevik' was published. Today his works can be seen in the Tretyakov Gallery and V.V. Mayakovsky Museum.

Series and books by Dmitry Moor in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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