Although the best response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo is in the form of cartoons, here's a recap of last week by Cartoon Movement editor Tjeerd Royaards.
First, there was shock. A brutal and senseless murder of 12 people and a vicious attack on freedom of expression. Then there was indignation and anger. An overwhelming conviction that violence cannot and will not stop satire. This emotion was not just felt by me, but by many, many cartoonists around the globe.
Within hours of the attack, the first cartoons were uploaded to our newsroom. A trickle soon became a flood, and that flood has been going ever since. It is my sincere hope we can keep this momentum going, because that's how satire will not only overcome this tragedy, but will come out stronger on the other side.
If there is to come any good out of this terrible tragedy, it should be a reaffirmation of the importance of social satire. And social satire cannot exist without the freedom to provoke, the freedom to insult. The feeling of unity among cartoonists has been wonderful, as has been the massive support for cartoons throughout Europe and throughout the world. Last Thursday, Cartoon Movement had over 1.5 million visitors, proving to us that we are not alone in our belief that cartoons matter. We even received cartoon submissions from non-cartoonists, stating that, despite not being able to draw, they felt the need to make a cartoon to show their solidarity. Many of our cartoonists shared their view on events in the media, including artists from the Arab World, like Sherif Arafa on CNN and Khalid Albaih on Al Jazeera.
Sherif Arafa on CNN.
Political cartoons are in the spotlight now, but we must work to keep them on the agenda. For it is when we, as a society, do not continue to reaffirm the importance of satire, that the risk of censorship, self-imposed or otherwise, is greatest. A cartoonist will be most courageous if he or she feels supported by the media and by the rest of society.
Although the media certainly seemed to wholeheartedly support cartoonists in the wake of the attack, this support proved to be dubious, and might even be considered a greater threat to political cartooning than any terrorist attack could ever hope to be. US cartoonist Ted Rall was the first to point this out in an excellent piece that appeared on the website of the LA times. In their search for ever more clicks, news websites quickly realized the potential to post Charlie Hebdo tribute cartoons to generate huge traffic streams. Lots of cartoonists posted their work on Twitter, and the majority of media websites simply embedded the cartoons from the Twitter feed, forgoing the courtesy of asking the artists for permission to show their work, let alone pay for it.
Support for cartoons is great, but it does not pay the bills. If media truly care for political cartoons, then the best way to show their support would be to allocate some of their scarce funds to pay cartoonists for the work they do, instead of trying to find every conceivable way of publishing cartoons for free.
For the purpose of full disclosure: we also have allowed some of the cartoons that were posted in our newsroom to be republished elsewhere without compensation, because we felt the need for these images to reach the broadest audience possible outweighed our usual strict policy of never giving away cartoons for free. In the long run, however, supporting cartoonists should mean also supporting them in their livelihood. Because however large the threat of a terrorist attack looms, chances are that the mortgage payment that's due at the end of month looms larger.
Documentary on Controversial Cartoonist Mr. Fish
Mr. Fish (Dwayne Booth) is an American cartoonist whose work can most regularly be seen on Harpers.org and Truthdig.com. His work truly pushes the envelope as he mixes fine art with political cartoons to create some of the most hard-hitting and visceral cartoons to be found in the US, and indeed the world.
Pablo Bryant decided to make a documentary on this remarkable artist and his work. The principal photography for the movie is done, and the team behind the documentary has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to edit the movie. Their pitch starts with:
You might not be right for this film. I'm going to be honest, this is a short documentary about an outspoken artist, with some very controversial and outrageous art, a lot of which could be offensive. So if you're easily offended read no further. Some people do not understand subversive, satirical humor or why it's important, but if you're still reading this, than I doubt your one of them.
That should be enough to at least convince you to watch the Indiegogo promo where director Pablo Bryant explains why this documentary is important:
And if you need further convincing, here's the trailer:
Now, head over to the campaign page to support this awesome project!
The second edition of Sketch Freedom, an international cartoon expo, will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden in early 2015. Organized by exiled Iranian cartoonist and activist Kianoush Ramezani, the expo is an official event of the Gothenburg Film Festival, and brings together the work of many great cartoonists from all corners of the globe.
The 'Sketch Freedom' movement started in 2013 in Normandy, the same place that thousands of humans sacrificed their lives to end the Second World War and give freedom to the people of Europe. It’s a world movement for exiled cartoonists that is proudly hosted by Le Mémorial de Caen. The movement, founded by Kianoush Ramezani, premiered last year in Gothenburg.
The second Sketch Freedom Expo, officially sponsored by Le Mémorial de Caen, will show artworks that manifest the value of freedom of expression, by the world's top cartoonists. Their cartoons are published in the major world journals like the New Yorker, the Washington Post, Courrier International, the Moscow Times, El Universal, Le Droit, etc.
Participating cartoonists (inclusing more than a few CM members - click on their links to view their portfolio on our site) are:
Adjim Danngar - Chad
Angel Boligan - Mexico
Ann Telnaes - USA
Assad Binakhahi - Iran
Ayako Saito - Japan
Bernard Bouton - France
Cristina Sampaio - Portugal
Damien Glez - Burkina Faso
Daryl Cagle - USA
Elena Ospina - Colombia
Eray Ozbek - Turkey
Guy Badeaux - Canada
Hassan Karimzadeh - Iran
Jaume Capdevila - KAP - Spain
Jim Morin - USA
Kianoush Ramezani - Iran
Liza Donnelly - USA
Mohammad Saba'aneh - Palestine
Peter Broelman - Australia
Phil Umbdenstock - France
Riber Hansson - Sweden
Tjeerd Royaards - Netherlands
Victor Bogorad - Russia
Vladimir Kazanevsky - Ukraine
Xavier Bonilla - BONIL - Ecuador
Zulkiflee Anwar Haque - Zunar - Malaysia
If you're a regular visitor of our newsroom, you might have noticed a lot of cartoons on topics related to the ICC in the past few months. We have partnered with Justice Hub, an international platform focusing on international justice.
Every week, our cartoonists create cartoons on a range of current topics related to international justice. These are all sent to the Justice Hub newsroom. Three cartoons are selected and published on Justice Hub each week. Not all these cartoons also make it to the homepage of Cartoon Movement, because some of them are quite specific to cases at the ICC. You can of course see them on the Justice Hub website, but we have also created a project page where you can see all of them.
In addition to cartoons, we're producing comics journalism for Justice Hub: comics explaining how the ICC works, such as an infocomic on the election of ICC judges, and also a series of comics about post-election violence in Kenya and Ivory Coast, telling the stories of both victims and perpetrators. Both the infocomic and the first comics on post-election violence will be published soon.
Cartoon Movement is based in the Netherlands, a good place for a media organization, as it's one of the countries that has been in the top 3 of the Press Freedom Index for years. Yet this freedom remains precious, a fact proved by a recent verdict forcing a Dutch cartoonist to rectify his work. This verdict could threaten all political cartoonists in the Netherlands.
In October, cartoonist Ruben L. Oppenheimer published a cartoon about a lawyer (named Theo Hiddema). In his cartoon, Oppenheimer called Hiddema a 'shifty lawyer'. Upon publication of this cartoon, Hiddema decided to sue Oppenheimer, claiming this cartoon would do damage to his personal reputation and business.
Translation top text: Shifty lawyer sued over book.
Translation speech bubble: But I'm not gay
Context: the cartoon refers to the autobiography published by Hiddema, in which a private investigator is accused of extortion. The private investigator has sued the lawyer for defamation, and in turn accuses Hiddema of extortion. The cartoon ties this to another part of the autobiography, where Hiddema states people often think he's gay, but he's not.
Whether or not Mr. Hiddema is indeed a shifty lawyer with ties to criminals is not the interesting part here, but the verdict in this case is, because it has far-reaching implications for political cartoonists and satirists in the Netherlands.
The court decided that Oppenheimer should rectify his cartoon, removing the word 'shifty', because he has no evidence to back up this allegation. This verdict (available in Dutch here) is remarkable, because it sets a precedent that anything in a political cartoon should be backed by facts. A political cartoon, like other forms of satire, uses exaggeration, distortion, humor and shock to make a point. It is often a derivation of facts, but can also be based on facts that are not yet known to be true, or portray a hypothetical situation. Because its satire, the rules of journalism (fact-checking, listing your sources) do not apply. But this verdict seems to suggest they do.
Although Hiddema has announced he no longer wants rectification of the cartoon, claiming he made his point, Oppenheimer has announced he will appeal the verdict, to the European Court of Human Rights if need be, because of its implications for cartoonists.
We will continue to follow the case.