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Stephen Kroninger
Uncle George Wants You
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This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice back in 1991, during Desert Storm. It soon took on a life of its own, and a second life now with Iraq. When it was first published, Patrick Flynn asked if he could publish it as poster and sell it through the magazine as a fund-raiser for the Progressive. That was an easy yes. I also told Patrick to add a line running across the bottom saying that the work was copyright free, so that anyone who wanted to could reproduce it. It was picked up and republished on op-ed pages all across the country as well as in Canada and Europe. MTV ran a piece on war merchandise that was mostly anti-Saddam and pro-war stuff. Saddam toilet paper, dart boards, that sort of thing. The only anti-war item they showed was this poster with a phone number at the Progressive for anyone who wanted to order a copy. They sold tons of them and it went into several printings. The Village Voice gave away a pile of them as a first-come first serve freebie. The Progressive also printed up t-shirts, which also sold briskly. As a news junkie, during the ’92 Presidential campaign I would see the poster hanging on podiums and walls at various Democratic Party forums and functions on C-SPAN. The original art and the poster hung in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It’s since been included in several museum posters collections, published in several anthologies and textbooks including Steven Heller’s Angry Graphics: Protest Posters of the Reagan/Bush Era, (With Karrie Jacobs) Salt Lake City, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books, 1992. Heller wrote: ““Illustrators whose ideas were otherwise too controversial for, and squelched in mainstream publications could stretch their critical wings. One such, Stephen Kroninger, created a photo-collage send-up of “Uncle Sam Wants You” (originally published in the Villiage Voice ) showing the first President George Bush hawking his Iraq war (the ransom note lettering accompanying the image reads, “Uncle George wants you to forget failing banks, education, drugs, AIDs, poor heath care, unemployment, crime, racism, corruption. and have a good war.”). This art was made into a Progressive poster, and because opponents were starved for alternative graphic statements in this image-managed war, it also became one of the few oppositional icons of the Desert Storm escapade.” In the run-up to the latest war with Iraq I began getting e-mail requests from around the country, asking permission to reprint the image for regional protest marches. I offered to update it by changing the old Bush’s head for the new Bush and altering the text to reflect contemporary issues, but everyone who asked said it was perfect the way it was.
Its latest incarnation is as the November 2009 image for the Amber Lotus “Posters for Peace and Justice” calendar, published by Amber Lotus Publishing in conjunction with The Center for the Study of Political Graphics. You may order the calendar here. And here’s what the publishers wanted to evoke with this calendar: “From the days of the Quaker broadsides against slavery to the current conflict in the Middle East, people have used ink and paper to speak out for peace and justice. Amber Lotus is proud to present Posters for Peace & Justice 2009 wall calendar, a survey of modern political poster art. Produced in partnership with Inkworks Press of Berkeley, California, and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles, this inspiring calendar offers reprints of political action posters, many of them still disturbingly relevant, combined with mission statements on the posters from the original artists. Since 1974, Inkworks Press, a worker owned and managed union shop, has collaborated with many artists and activists in support of peace and justice. With over 50,000 posters, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics is the largest collection of post-World War II graphics in the United States. CSPG is committed to collecting, preserving and exhibiting this rich visual history of social change.”
The back of the Calendar showing all of the images inside.


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