“The Deserter” by Boardman Robinson is an anti-war cartoon from 1916 which depicts Jesus up against a stone wall facing a firing squad made up of soldiers from five different European countries. While at the time of its publication the USA had not yet entered the First World War, Robinson’s cartoon was a statement against the mounting pressure for it to partake.
As well as being an editorial cartoonist, Robinson was a socialist. At the outbreak of the war Robinson resigned from his job at the New York Tribune and began to produce cartoons for the left-wing magazine, The Masses. After the USA entered the war in 1917, The Masses came under increasing pressure from the government for its anti-war cartoons. In July, it was claimed by the authorities that Robinson’s cartoons violated the Espionage Act, under which it was an offence to publish material that undermined the war effort. Along with a few others, Robinson was arrested for treason and was put on trial twice, although both trials resulted in hung juries.