May 01, 2013

Exiled Cartoonist

Exiled Cartoonist

In the 1930s a tall, slim man with a slight limp and a pleasant, unassuming manner wandered through the often dangerous streets of Shanghai, China, armed only with a pencil and sketchpad. He peered intently though round eyeglasses that gave him a kind of owlish appearance, and when he smiled his front teeth displayed a substantial gap.

The wanderer was a common sight in Shanghai, invariably dressed in a natty suit, carefully knotted tie, and a fedora slightly turned up at the brim. He spoke good English, the common language of Shanghai’s substantial foreign community, but with a distinctly Russian accent.

The man, a White Russian émigré named Georgy Avksentiyevich Sapozhnikov, worked for the North-China Daily News, the most prestigious newspaper of the period and the mouthpiece of British interests in the Far East. A political cartoonist of great talent and perceptiveness, Sapozhnikov daily created sketches that were avidly devoured by subscribers. In fact, he was so popular that when he went on extended holidays the newspaper refused to hire a temporary replacement.

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