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Foregrounded in the lower-right quadrant of the first image are renderings of American adults. The man and woman walking a dog at the extreme right are depicted in fashionable 1920's American attire. These figures can be read as more or less neutral, given the vibrant cultural exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Russia in the 1920's – the years of America's Jazz Age or “Roaring Twenties” and Soviet Russia's New Economic Policy. Similar styles of dress were popular with some Russian urbanites in these years.

The car passenger leaning out of the window (father of the eponymous protagonist Jimmy Joe) is depicted using iconographical topoi used in satirical indictments of the bourgeois capitalist: the cylindrical top hat and monocle.

As is often the case in such satirical representations, the bourgeois capitalist is shown in close proximity to a representative of the working class he exploits, here the chauffeur. That this is a chauffeur and not another member of Jimmy Joe’s family is evident from the figure’s cap (фуражка) - decidedly working-class headdress.

The roof of the car is weighted down with luggage, and this is a leitmotif familiar from negatively inflected Russian literary and graphic portrayals of the idle wealthy: an embarrassment of accoutrements which encumber movement or travel and create a heavy burden that must be conveyed by some category of disenfranchised accompanier (for frame of reference see L.N. Tolstoy’s Three Deaths, I.N. Bunin’s “The Gentleman from San Francisco”, S. Marshak’s Mister Tvister).

While within the foregrounded ensemble, Jimmy Joe is separated from it by the image’s vertical polarization. He is elevated well above the figures of American adults, and alone seems drawn into the upward sweep of the American urban landscape of the image’s background. Jimmy – a representative of the newest generation of Americans – is determined to get to Leningrad and meet the Pioneers, and in the several images depicting his journey there he is consistently placed above all or almost all other figures in the compositions, a noteworthy exception being an image where he is shown being lifted into a Soviet airplane by the pilot. The figure of Jimmy partakes of the power and upward momentum that willed the new towering American urban reality into existence, but casts off the accoutrements of a decadent American consumer culture which rests on exploitation and socioeconomic inequality, accoutrements that appear heavy and burdensome in the first image. He does this most literally in the image on page 9 where he strips off his finery for his passage across the ocean to the new new world of the Pioneers “Все тяжелое долой./ Ведь доплыть до Ленинграда/ Это подбиг не простой” (Throw off those heavy things./ After all, sailing to Leningrad/ Is no small feat).

In contrast to the earthbound figure of the automobile, the background – the lower-left quadrant and the two upper quadrants – is full of exhilarating upward momentum and gravity-defying marvels of contemporary engineering. Trains glide far overhead on elevated railroads, sending plumes of white and black smoke skyward. Skyscrapers shooting into the sky crowd the center of the upper half of the picture, and airplanes flying in all directions fill the surrounding airspace.


The dynamic, but impossible, composition of icons of modernity -- trains, planes, skyscrapers -- are composed much like a photomontage of the age.