Kari Suomalainen

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Kari Yrjänä Suomalainen (October 15, 1920, Helsinki - August 10, 1999) was Finland's most famous political cartoonist. His first cartoon appeared in the start of the year 1950, showing an infant boy (the symbol of the New Year) contemplating two toys: a tank and a dove carrying an olive branch. The boy is saying: "Tank... or dove? I want them both!"

Suomalainen started drawing daily political cartoons in Helsingin Sanomat in the year 1951, during Juho Kusti Paasikivi's presidency. His cartoons soon became popular throughout the nation. While most of them comment on current politics, some are based on every-day life.

One of Suomalainen's most favourite characters was Urho Kekkonen, whom he drew as a bald man with an angular chin and huge eyeglasses. When Kekkonen became president in 1956, Suomalainen stopped, for a while, using the character, due to an "unwritten law" forbidding caricaturing the president. Suomalainen published a cartoon of himself weeping at Kekkonen's portrait, saying he "felt like a man who has just lost a gold mine". Later, Suomalainen continued using the Kekkonen character.

Other famous Suomalainen characters include president Mauno Koivisto (a man with thick eyebrows and a strand of hair pointing upwards), prime minister Kalevi Sorsa (a cross between a man and a duck - in Finnish, "sorsa" means "duck") and the artist himself (a short, rotund man with long, black hair and a mushroom-shaped hat).

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