tovecensor copy

Wartime Finland was not exactly a hotbed of freehanded creativity. Despite Garm‘s boldness, it nevertheless had to stay within certain parameters of acceptability, or run the risk of closing down. So it’s hardly surprising that censorship itself became a topic worthy of addressing. It wasn’t only topical issues that the authorities were sensitive about – love stories were heavily discouraged and edited too; it was felt that they would lower wartime morale.

The influence of the censors was powerful enough that the Garm editors themselves censored the above cartoon. Penned by Tove Jansson in 1942, the cartoon portrays two female censors – underneath a “Do not disturb the censors” sign – redacting a serialised love story. It’s likely that at the time, this was considered too critical to run, and that portraying censors concerning themselves with the outcome of a romantic pulp story would undermine the reputation of the state’s policy on censorship.

They eventually ran the strip after the war, the editors stating that on reflection, “it didn’t really allude to the serious and gloomy side of the state’s function”.

There’s a lot going on in this strip, particularly to Swedish speakers. The underlining and kisses emphasise key parts of the story, whilst the redacted document cleverly tells a different tale through its edits, with the original meaning still discernible to a keen eye. Clever, clever stuff.