Polandball (meme)

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Group of Polandball characters

For the character, see Polandball (character).

Polandball is an internet meme that consists of user-generated cartoon comics, artworks, and communities. It satirizes countries, characterized as balls with eyes and their flag as their skin (widely known as "countryballs"), interacting with each other mostly in poorly written English, and exhibiting personalities derived from national and international opinions and stereotypes of them. The comic style can be called Polandball (even though Poland is often not among the characters in comics), or Countryball (also, collectively, countryballs). [1]

The meme has developed differently than many other internet memes in that it has a strong community of followers across many websites, but is not always completely known of or understood outside of its communities. Regardless, Polandball has become a staple of many websites to depict international events. It has drawn the attention of scholars, front pages of websites and newspapers, game developers, politicians and ministries, and even celebrities, amongst other people.

Early History[edit]

Countries being depicted as balls and circles was not an idea that Polandball's creators invented. As such, Polandball has had several spiritual predecessors.

Bruno Bozzetto's Work[edit]

Bruno Bozzetto is the first person who did an animation similar to countryballs.

Polandball could have been inspired by the work of the italian animator Bruno Bozzetto. In his cartoon "Italy vs Europe", released in 1999, the European Union and Italy are portrayed as circles. [2] [3]  The works of Bruno Bozzetto are some of the first modern work depicting vast things, like genders and nations, as circles. His work also shares many of the same characteristics of Polandball, like manifesting creativity out of basic stereotypes. His work went viral quickly, and may have become sediment for the first Polandball comics.

Drawball.com incident[edit]

The roots of Polandball can be traced to an event dubbed a 'cyber war' among Polish Internet users in on a website called drawball.com, which occurred in August, 2009. The website, which offers a larger, circular-shaped virtual canvas, allows internet users to draw what they want on the canvas, based upon what has previously been drawn by other users. The idea of ​drawing the Polish flag on the entire canvas rallied thousands of Polish 4chan users together, and they were able to paint the entire canvas with a red top and white below, with the word "POLSKA" written in the middle. This coordination devolved into drawball's familiar chaos soon afterward when it was covered with a giant swastika. [4]

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Image of the incident, before and after

Polandball's Beginnings[edit]

The beginnings of the actual meme began a month later, on Krautchan, a German-language imageboard website.

One of the first Polandball comics, created by Krautchan frequenter FALCO.

The first Polandball comics are attributed to a British user of Krautchan's English-speaking /int/ imageboardd, dubbed "FALCO", who in September 2009 created the meme using Microsoft Paint to troll another user dubbed "Wojak". Wojak, a Polish-British frequenter of /int/, was speaking of his poor employee contributions and nationalism for his former country in a rambling style. Eventually he began talking about how superior Polish women are to women from other countries. FALCO created the first Polandball comics to satirize this, along with several others later, and they became the most foundational stereotypes attributed to Polandball.  This caught the interest of many users of the board, who then began spreading and imitating FALCO's comics across the internet. Russians espoused it the most, themselves creating their own stereotypes of drunken enjoyment and obsession with making fun of Poland. These stereotypes were placed into the character Russiaball. In similar fashion, many other stereotypes began forming for the various other characters of Polandball.