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Polandball is a cartoon character drawn in the shape of a ball with the color schemes of the Polish flag (white & red). It was originally featured in the multi-pane comic series that became popular in /INT/ (international) board on Krautchan, a German-language imageboard community similar to 4chan. These user-generated cartoons typically follow the lives of ball-shaped creatures representing different countries (also known as Countryballs) and “international drama” surrounding their diplomatic relations.
Polandball comic strips were created by a British individual known as “FALCO” in the /INT/ board of Krautchan around September 2009. Unlike other image-boards on the German-language site, /INT/ board is frequented by English-speaking netizens from the rest of Europe and the world. According to several sources, FALCO’s original comics were decidedly apolitical and aimed to poke fun at a fellow Polish /INT/ user “Wojak”, who frequently posted in less than perfect English. One of his memorable quotes “I Know That Feel” also became a meme in May 2010.
However, as the cartoon’s appeal grew within the /INT/ board, some of the derivative artworks began to reflect on the subject of European Union and international relations, featuring other country balls like Russia, Germany, Austria, Great Britain and the United States.
Drawball Takeover in 2009
Drawball is a popular website hosting a huge circular canvas on which anyone can draw and collaborate on larger artworks with other users. In mid-August 2009, a large group of Polish netizens on Wykop.pl and PokazyWarka took on a mission to take over the Drawball canvas with their national flag in white and red.
Alarmed by a sudden flood of red and white, Drawball users in communities like New Schoolers, 4chan responded by making counter moves, including an attempt to sabotage the takeover by flipping the color schemes to resemble a Pokemon creature. However, the battle didn’t last long and by August 15th, Drawball canvas read “Polska.”
Polandball comics became so prevalent on the /INT/ board that a spin-off cartoon of “Country balls” was created on October 15th, 2009. Then, any post was followed by the icon of a small ball with big eyes representing the poster’s own country like , and .
As stated in the Russian Lurkmore wiki:
Интересный факт -- Бавария и Германия в комиксах выступают как отдельные страны. А еще 15 октября все флаги в /INT/ были заменены на Countryballs. Such cases.
Interesting fact – Bayern Munich and Germany in the comics appear as separate countries. And on October 15 all the flags in the / INT / have been replaced by Countryballs. Such cases.
- Polandball’s proper color scheme is red top, white bottom. (why? because he is such a precious little snowflake – and Falcolad probably screwed up his first few strips. Nevertheless, it stuck and became a trademark usually frowned upon by Polish anons – and thus a surefire means to troll them)
- Countryballs including Poland have no limbs, pupils, eyebrows or mouth.
- Countryballs cannot into proper English (which kind of resembles the lolcat-meme. The “X cannot into Y” became a Polandball related meme itself)
Outside of /INT/
Shortly afterward, Non-German Speaking websites began hosting some of those webcomics, including on 4chan and Facebook, as well as niche interest communities like d2jsp, The Mercury Rooms forum and MilitaryPhotos forum among others. It also made its way to the polish imageboard site vichan’s /int/ board, having the same feature installed in December. Also on the Russian imageboard Uachan and the British image board Britfa.gs.
One of the recurring motifs in the series is Poland’s ambition of space exploration, which has been illustrated through a number of Polandball tribute videos featuring the phrase “Polandball cannot into space.”