In Our Enemies and Friends, Kanevsky uses some of the basic stylistic features of the Soviet political poster. His illustrations are thematically motivated and steer young readers toward a predictable identification of Soviet soldiers, workers, and Young Pioneers as “friends,” and capitalists, militarists, and colonialist as “enemies.” The illustrator’s visual technique relies on simple composition, dark contours, solid fill, minimal—albeit striking—details, and almost no background. The bright colors are consistent with the palette of the political poster art of the time and are dominated by red, yellow, blue, and black, with green reserved exclusively for coloring the Soviet military uniforms.
Visually, the typical “enemy” in Kanevsky’s illustrations is fat and ugly, and displays a big belly, or a funny nose, or a ridiculous mustache. “Enemies” are portrayed either as torturers, or executioners, or puppets of the League of Nations who try to undermine the young Soviet republic. Here he depicts a Polish general and a banker as dogs “barking fiercely” at the Soviet border while a partially concealed figure of the Western capitalist in his black top hat watches on from the distance. This picture echoes conventional agit-prop art of the Civil War.