It was on May 9 of 1754 that the first cartoon appeared in an American Newspaper. It was titled “Join or Die,” and appeared in the Philadelphia Gazette.
The ink drawing, penned by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, depicted a sectioned snake with each piece representing one of the colonies.
Now, our friend Mandy Longo of Mosquito County tours has discovered a very similar image. It is located on the side of a building in the Mills 50 District in Orlando. She spotted it recently during one of their Little Vietnam Food & Art Walking Tour.
The 18 x 24-inch “wheat pasted” screenprinted newsprint banner depicts a sectioned alligator, with each piece representing a different telephone area code. Its legend is “Florida or Die.”
The Rest of the Story
Turns out, this is the work of Orlando artist Akyros. Although he is the one who made the rendering, he is quick to point out he was not the one who posted on the side of the Royal Tea building.
It is, in fact, a nod to Franklin’s original cartoon in the Gazette that rallied our nation to come together as one instead of separate entities.
” Benjamin Franklin is a huge inspiration of mine for his leadership, communication skills, and he owned his own print shop back in the day. ” – Akyros
He says like Franklin, he too would like to have his own print facility that empowers creatives and leaders to spread their ideas/artwork. Akros said he made the design just for fun, not realizing how impactful the imagery resonates with the local Orlando community.
Incidentially, if you like the design, it is commercially available on t-shirts and posters at his online store: https://akyros.co/collections/exclusive/products/fla-or-die
Mandy’s Still Looking
Meanwhile, Mandy Longo, who found the design said the Akyros design was emblematic of the kinds of things she finds while researching her Mosquito County Tours of “The City Beautiful.”
“Orlando is such an interesting place, and we’re always discovering new things when we escort our guests about. You can find her at https://www.mosquitocountytours.com/