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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

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 on Polandball

Bozzetto

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 UnionEU-icon and ItalyItaly-iconare 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

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 raided by 4chan in order to cover it with a giant swastika. [4]

DRAWBALL

Image of the incident, before and after

Polandball's Beginnings

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

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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.

Later History

Polandball, after being established by the community from Krautchan, began spreading their works across other websites in addition to cementing the popularity on their home website. On Krautchan, the meme became so widespread that the managers and moderators of the website established markers for the anonymous users' home countries using countryballs instead of flags. This later became a feature among many other /int/ boards on other imageboards, and is also an optional feature. (The rest of the end sentence was gone because of some lousy person who randomly put 'IT'S COUNTRYBALLS NOT POLANDBALL'

Reddit

Polandball World 2015

Polandball map of the World in 2015

See main article: /r/Polandball

Another large Polandball community is headquartered on Reddit. On Reddit is a "subreddit" named eponymously after Polandball. It currently has 180k subscribers around the world, mostly from America and Europe. It is known for its strict rules for how comics and comments are posted and shared. Many regard the subreddit as a source for high-quality comics, while others criticize it for its heavy moderation or its tendency toward a more complex style of art. Controversial rules include the banning and temporary banning of certain jokes and a heavy comment policy which bans the use of any meme (including subtle meme references and even having a meme title for a comic).

How Polandball Works

Polandball walking

How Polandball walks

Many of the elements that made up the original comics have been carried on in later works. The mostly apolitical nature of Polandball is something that has remained with it throughout its history. Most comics are very innocent of actual offense, and any offense actually triggered is usually pinned and made fun of in a way that still gets across the innocence of what is going on. The comics can even reveal the creator's character (poorly-conceived comics are often very nationalist and unhumorous, akin to the user itself).

This innocence of Polandball stems from the fact that many jokes FALCO created for Polandball were simply made up from Wojak's ramblings. As an example, it is so obvious that not all Polish people work for Britain as plumbers that it is impossible for any related jokes to be too offensive. It remains, in spite of this, accurate enough to be recognized across the internet by many different nationalities as poking fun of international behaviors. This does not mean that Polandball is non-offensive - rather, it is as offensive as possible while remaining innocent of what it talks about. This is so that the community surrounding Polandball can return and participate in it regardless of any real offense taken to the viewer. Usually, how abrasively offensive a joke in Polandball is is related to how influential the actual country is. For ex: jokes about America are very common and can be very deadpan, jokes about Liechtenstein are rarer and usually about how small and irrelevant, yet stable, it is as a country.

The many different Polandball-related communities across the internet often put in place rules and social stigmas so that the foundation and principles of the meme remain with it.

Format

See also: Official Polandball tutorial

Polandball comics are also written in a specific style and language usage. Common phrases include X cannot into Y or X cannot into Y (derived from the popular "Poland cannot into space"), Remove kebab (derived from remove kebab music video), gib clay or gib (item).

Other Media

Games

Main Article: Polandball games

Polandball's Adventure: Escaping from Austria

Polandball's Adventure: Escaping from Austria is an adventureous RPG game about Polandball trying to escape out of Austriaball's basement.

Polandball Shooter

Polandball Shooter is a free online multiplayer game and a modification of the original Teeworlds game, available for all major operating systems.

Poland can into space! (Lemon Tea)

In 2014, a game about Polandball was released for Android. The gameplay is based off of Flappy Bird. Players also have the opportunity to play as the other countryballs.

Polandball's Grand Adventures: Platformer Shooter game in early develop. Follow the story of Polandball collecting other country's vital power to develop his tech.

Polandball World

A 2016 indie game aiming to let players control countryballs find and build Poland's ship so he can enter space. As of July 21st, it was up for vote on Steam's Greenlight program.

Countryballs: Balls at War

Countryballs: Balls at War is a third-person shooter game developed by Falconssj and the 9gag community. It started production late 2016. It will be released mid-late 2017.

Reference

  1. http://books.google.com.co/books?id=tZVbAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA86&dq=%22Polandball%22+-inpublisher:icon&hl=es&sa=X&ei=s-OcUtziJ8P7kQf03YCgCQ&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22Polandball%22%20-inpublisher%3Aicon&f=false A Case Study of Internet Memes
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAJNFoHuLno Italy vs Europe
  3. http://www.bozzetto.com/filmography.pdf Bruno Bozzetto's filmography
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YNo707FsBYU%7CVideo footage of the incident

See also

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