Posts Tagged ‘upside down face’

Magazine cover tricks: upside-down faces

January 15, 2020
Punch magazine front cover

Punch horror special from 1973: turn your screen upside-down!

Faces that can be turned upside-down to make another face have long been an illustrated  postcard gimmick, such as a Kaiser Bill card from World War I. They’re rarer on magazine covers, but here’s a Punch effort from 1973 for a horror special issue of the satirical weekly.

>>More cover design secrets

Ravages of War in Kaiser Wilhelm’s face

July 15, 2014
Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm - The Ravager

Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm, with his moustache and military uniform, at the start of World War I. He is described as ‘The Ravager’

This postcard depicts Germany’s leader, Kaiser Wilhelm, with his flamboyant moustache and military uniform, at the start of World War I. He is described as ‘The Ravager’ and there appears to be a tear falling from the right eye. It is when the card is turned upside down that ‘The Ravages of War’ he was responsible for are made clear.

The postcard turned upside down reveals the 'Ravages of War'

The upside-down face reveals the ‘Ravages of War’ with the moustache becoming an imperial eagle

In the upside-down face, his nose and moustache become an eagle with a crown above its head – the German imperial symbol – atop a marble column. The falling tear has become a lion – a symbol for Britain – which is trying to climb the column to reach the eagle. And the lower eyelashes now spell out the names of the first Belgian cities that fell to the Germans – Liège and Namur.

The eyelashes spell out  Liège and Namur

The eyelashes spell out the names of the first Belgian cities that fell to the Germans – Liège and Namur

Both cities had been ringed with forts by 1892 and the Battle for Liège was the first engagement of the war. It began on 5 August 1914 and lasted until 16 August when the last fort surrendered. The attack on Belgium drew the British into the war. German troops then turned their attention to the forts around Namur on 20 August, bombarding them with heavy artillery, including the massive Big Bertha (a 420mm siege howitzer). Belgian forces withdrew and the city was evacuated and left to the attackers on 23 August. Magazines at the time such Punch referred to the Belgiums as steadfast in standing up to the Germans but ultimately being flattened by its might – ‘plucky little Belgium‘.

So the card was probably produced in the autumn of 1914. Like Alfred Leete’s famous Your Country Needs You cover from London Opinion, it was a visceral reaction to the war.

Turning back to the card, the detail on the Kaiser’s tunic portrays Belgian troops in front of a church facing cannon fire. One side of the collar depicts a German soldier bayoneting a mother in front of her child. The other side shows a line of troops firing on a fleeing family. The chinstrap depicts three lions.

The helmet shows two French armies with a smaller British force. The helmet’s ‘dome’ turns into howitzers firing at a dove that is falling from the sky, with an explosion to one side and a burning house on the other.

Deatail of moustache as imperial eagle

The upside-down nose and moustache become a German imperial eagle on a column, which a British lion is trying to climb. Part of the helmet shows British and French troops

The card was issued as part of the ‘Dainty’ series (possibly from Britain’s first mass-producer of postcards, E.T.W. Dennis) and has an unclear signature at the bottom right: possibly Victor Edmunds Pickup.

Postcard was issued as part of the ‘Dainty’ series (probably from Britain’s first mass-producer of postcards, E.T.W. Dennis) and has an unclear signature at the bottom right: possibly Victor Edmunds Pickup

Postcard was issued as part of the ‘Dainty’ series (possibly from Britain’s first big postcard printer, E.T.W. Dennis) and has a signature at the bottom right: possibly Victor Edmunds Pickup

Most British magazines and postcards did not show out-and-out brutality, instead hinting at illegal actions with slogans such as ‘Remember Belgium’ but French magazines certainly did.

Back of the Kaiser Ravages of War postcard with the 'Dainty series' label

Back of the Kaiser Ravages of War postcard with the ‘Dainty’ series label on the left