An Anti-imperialist Soviet Flip Book: Little Chon and Long John


Cotsen in-process

Malenkiĭ Chon i Dlinnyĭ Dzhon [Little Chon and Long John] is a most unusual flip book. Credited on the cover to N. Lapshin (probably Nikolaĭ Fedorovich Lapshin 1891-1942), it was published by the Soviet state publishing house, Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo (GIZ), in Leningrad around 1928.  Cotsen has five other titles illustrated by Lapshin, but this is the only novelty book. The wordless flip book contains a cartoon in 55 leaves and it features a small Chinese girl who tries to get the attention of a tall British man. After she angers him, a chase ensues. Finally she trips him into a river and takes his hat as he floats downstream.

The minimalist pair in printed in four colors are obviously stereotypes, but the choice of characters might be more significant than it first appears. Given the time period of the book’s production in the Soviet Union, I don’t think it’s unfair to see undertones of anti-imperialist and anti-British sentiment in this charming cartoon about a girl finding a new hat.

Painstakingly reproduced below for your entertainment is a gif of the flip book in full: