[Yellow Peril]. MAY, Phil. The Mongolian Octopus - His Grip on Australia. Sydney, from The Bulletin, August 21, 1886. Double page cartoon, 41x51cm, mounted and matted. At some stage folded horizontally (as well as the original vertical fold) with some separation and a couple of small chips along this fold; a couple of small splodges around the bottom edges but quite decent in all. Au$600
The octopus has been demonised in cartoon for as long as the threatening foreigner and I believe there is now a movement by 'cephalofans' objecting to this defamation and seeking to redeem the animal's reputation. Phil May's Mongolian Octopus is one of the most ferocious racist icons ever published but the Chinese immigrant in Australia probably had fewer champions then than the octopus does now. This is merely one of hundreds of drawings and tens of thousands of poisonously xenophobic words that appeared in that most Australian of Australian journals, The Bulletin ("Australia for the White Man" remained on their masthead until 1961), but it was and remains the most potent distillation of white Australia's racial fear, the summation of The Bulletin's rabid campaign and success with the legal entrenchment of a white Australia with Federation in 1901. It has been reprinted, copied and reworked countless times since this original appearance but it has not lost a speck of power; even if the object of the revulsion it provokes has shifted.