Skip to main content
  • Share to or

Celebrating Cosmonautics Day with Soviet cartoons

Source: Meduza

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to visit outer space. His near-earth orbit around the world and the satellites sent to distant planets inspired millions of people and demonstrated some of the greatest achievements of Soviet science. To celebrate the anniversary of Gagarin’s flight (what is now known as Cosmonautics Day), Meduza collects several illustrations about the Soviet space program published in the 1960s and 70s by the satirical magazine Krokodil.

“Krokodil,” number 32, 1957. The collars read, “Satellite.” The caption reads, “Who’s last in line? I’m behind you!” One is holding a ticket that reads, “Earth – Mercury.” The other has a ticket that says, “Earth – Jupiter.”
Illustrated by V. Dobrovolsky
“Krokodil,” number 31, 1959. The sign reads, “The Moscow Sea.” The caption says, “Isn’t it nice out on the Moscow range?”
Illustrated by Boris Leo
“Krokodil,” number 05, 1961. The bottom caption reads, “The first swallow,” which in this context means “The forerunner.” The woman’s crown says, “Venus.” A smaller caption above her head reads, “The automated interplanetary station will reach the Venus area in the second half of 1961” — a reference to the Venera 1 space probe launched on February 12, 1961. Seven days later, telemetry on the probe failed. Scientists believe the object passed within 62,000 miles of Venus and still orbits the sun to this day. After the Venera 2’s telemetry also failed, the Venera 3 successfully crash-landed on Venus on March 1, 1966. A year later, the Venera 4 would become the first spacecraft to measure another planet’s atmosphere.
Illustrated by Yu. Federov
“Krokodil,” number 12, 1961. The caption reads, “Spring is here! Time to take down the shutters…”
Illustrated by V. Goryaev
“Krokodil,” number 10, 1962. A smitten Mother Earth holds a photograph of Yuri Gagarin.
Illustrated by V. Goryaev
“Krokodil,” number 30, 1962. The segments of the accordion read, “Vostok 1,” “Vostok 2,” and so on. The USSR’s Vostok program was the human spaceflight program that carried out six manned space flights between 1961 and 1963.
Illustrated by V. Goryaev
“Krokodil,” number 29, 1964. The rocket is labeled “Voskhod,” which was a Soviet spacecraft used for manned space flights. The names written on the rocket (V. Komarov, K. Feoktistov, and B. Egorov) belong to the cosmonauts aboard the first spaceflight to carry more than one crew member. The illustration compares this trio to the three Russian warriors depicted in Victor Vasnetsov's famous 1898 painting.
Illustrated by I. Semenov
“Krokodil,” number 12, 1965. The top caption reads, “The May Day [parade] of the near future.” The bottom caption says, “And now our column of cosmonauts is taking the square.”
Illustrated by V. Goryaev
“Krokodil,” number 03, 1969. The banner reads, “First space station in the world.” The station itself is labeled “Soyuz-5” and “Soyuz-4.” Standing on a cloud and holding out his halo, an impoverished God asks the cosmonauts, “Hey, guys, got any room for a station master?”
Illustrated by I. Semenov
“Krokodil,” number 11, 1970. The planet-sized plaque reads, “Here, from 1870 to 1924, lived and worked Vladimir Ilych LENIN.”
Illustrated by E. Shukayev
“Krokodil,” number 33, 1970. The top robot is labeled “Luna 17,” and the shooting star is pointing to the USSR rover and asking, “Is this yours? He’s such a lively little guy!”
Illustrated by A. Tsvetkov
“Krokodil,” number 13, 1978. The caption below reads, “May 1 in space.” The flag planted in the Earth reads, “All hail May 1!” Rockets in the illustration are labeled, “Interspace,” “Textile works,” and “Space buffet: sandwiches, kefir, beer, and kvas.” Signs read, “We’ve made quota!” “Winners of the May 1 competition,” “Proletarsky District,” and “Don’t litter in space!” One male cosmonaut says to a group of women, “Come dock with our district!”  
Illustrated by I. Semenov
  • Share to or