Editor Matt Bors was interviewed by Marco Werman on PRI's The World today about our comics journalism project in Haiti. You can listen through their website.
By Caroline Bins
In collaboration with the American editorial cartoonist Matt Bors , including contributions from the Haitian artist Chevelin Pierre, I have created a video which incorporates animated illustrations to paint a picture of a group particularly impacted by the earthquake.
In a country where 85 % of Haiti's population is devoutly Catholic, many gay and lesbians hide their sexual orientation for fear of being discriminated or harassed. The major exception is Voodoo, a spiritual belief which does not discriminate against gays.
Knowing this as we went to Haiti, what piqued our attention was the reports of increased homophobia in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. A visit to Haiti's only LGTB organization, SEROvie only corroborated these reports further.
At the height of the post-earthquake catastrophe 1.5 million Haitians were homeless according to the international organization for migration. But haiti's lgtb we spoke to said that with the loss of their homes they had become "more visible" to outside verbal and physical abuse. Twice, while we were in the camp, our main subject "Jean -Francois" was taunted and called Masisi or faggot. All of our subjects recounted how church priests and religious radio programs blamed them for the earthquake. An accusation that they heard time and again.
Why combine illustrations with video?
Two of the three subjects we interviewed wished to remain anonymous fearful for their safety. Also they did not wish to disclose their sexual orientation to their families. While there are many ways in video's to conceal someone's identity I was interested to collaborate with Matt Bors to see how we can tell stories otherwise difficult to report.
Also, we wanted to test the boundaries of both video and comics and yet remain journalistic. Drawings are often associated with fiction but Bors and I were interested to stay within the confines of reality.
He worked from his own sketches, pictures and freeze frames taken from my video footage.
Caroline Bins is a Dutch video journalist currently residing in San Fransisco. In July 2011, she traveled to Haiti with the editorial team of Cartoon Movement.
Today, on the second anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, we publish the first chapter in a 75-page comics journalism project focused on life in Haiti two years after the country was devastated by an earthquake that it is still recovering from.
Written by Port-au-Prince reporter Pharés Jerome, and illustrated by Chevelin Pierre, Tents Beyond Tents takes us down to the Champ de Mars in front of the crumbled presidential palace to the squalid conditions in tent camps on the outskirts of town. Jerome tells us of the forced evictions by state authorities and the modest progress that is finally allowing some families to relocate.
500,000 people still live in tent camps as resources and international attention wanes. Amid the daunting relief effort is a reminder from the Haitian proverb, "beyond mountains, there are mountains," that after each struggle is overcome new ones present themselves, as the seemingly endless struggle to rebuild Haiti continues into its third year.
This cartoon, made by young artist Teddy Keser Mombrun, is a a recap of the Haitian political year. It was published on the cover of Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste at the end of 2011. We wanted to include it in our Haiti Week, because it gives an insight into Haitian politics, but also because it is characteristic of editorial cartooning in Haiti.
Le Nouvelliste is the largest newspaper in Haiti, but only has a circulation of about 20,000 copies. It caters to the movers and shakers of Haitian politics, which is reflected in the type of cartoons that are published. The editorial cartoons have a narrow focus on the political arena, often only touching upon issues that define life in Haiti, such as the tent camps, extreme poverty, hunger, disease.
In the slideshow below, we exlain some of the elements in the cartoon:
Here is a preview of Thursday's launch of Cartoon Movement's 75-page comics journalism project focused on life in Haiti two years after the country was devastated by an earthquake.
The first chapter, “Tents Beyond Tents”, focuses on the tent camps that still dominate much of Port-au-Prince. It was written by Pharés Jerome, a reporter for Le Nouvelliste. We will be publishing installments throughout 2012 written by various Haitian journalists, focusing on such issues as Haitian politics, the role of NGOs, and what exactly happened with all the relief money that came flooding in after the earthquake.
The entire series will be drawn by perhaps the most talented comic artist working in Haiti today, Chevelin Pierre.
“This is an opportunity to express my frustrations, and those of my countrymen, with the recovery after January 12 through my drawings,” says Pierre. “And comics journalism lends itself perfectly to the subject.”
This 26-page sketchbook by US cartoonist Sandy Huffaker is based on his impressions of Haiti during a trip he made in 1986 with Don McClanen's Ministry of Money, a Christian organization 'taking small groups of people to places of economic poverty from India to Palestine to Haiti to experience how some communities live in great faith though in few financial resources.'
This sketchbook not only provides an interesting insight into faith-based trips to Haiti (missionaries and other Christian groups still travel to Haiti in great numbers), but also into the past and present of Haiti. Although 20+ years have passed, the plight of the Haitian people has not improved greatly.
When we began Cartoon Movement as an international platform for cartoonists, we had an idea: what if we published comics journalism regularly and treated it like a real thing worthy of respect. That is, what if reporting stories through comics wasn't a novelty, but an actual field comprised of professionals who happen to use cartooning where others use prose or film. What if in the great media transition we are living through, comics were actually a perfect vehicle for telling real stories about real people.
Notice the lack of question marks there.
Comics journalism has received increased attention and legitimacy recently and we'd like to think we've played a part. In our first year of publishing we've gone into the slums of Rio, undercover in America's pregnancy centers, visited Iraqi refugees in Syria, seen numerous Occupy protests, and looked at the Nisoor Square massacre in Iraq in one of the first interactive pieces of comics journalism.
Looking to 2012, we will have much more from contributors who have already written for us as well as many new ones. We will also be launching two major projects that we are very excited about.
Last summer, the Cartoon Movement editorial team went to Haiti in search of cartoonists and journalists to work on a project focusing on the struggles their country face in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince in 2010. On January 12, 2012, the second anniversary of the quake, we will publish the first installment.
But the goal isn't to do a quick check-in on the anniversary and move on, as so many other outlets in the media will be doing. Largely ignored unless a horrifying disaster or coup has made headlines, Cartoon Movement will keep a spotlight on Haiti throughout the year. And we will do it with comics.
Besides using graphic reporting to tell stories, this project will be notable for something else: It will be done by Haitians. The stories told about Haiti to the outside world are typically from foreign aid organizations, visiting journalists, and even celebrities. No more. It's time for Haitians to have a voice. Oh, and we're publishing it in French in Creole so they can read it as well.
Running a total of 75 pages, the project will be illustrated by Chevelin Pierre (who you can see in our first video about the trip) and reported on by a number of Haitian journalists who will all take up a different subject, ranging from NGO money and influence to the recent reformation of the Haitian army.
In the summer of 2010, journalist David Axe spent a month reporting from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Lord's Resistance Army has created one of the largest humanitarian crises on earth with its campaign of violence and widespread use of rape as a weapon of war.
Beginning in February, Cartoon Movement will publish the first installment of Army Of God, a graphic novel-length work of comics journalism focusing on the brutal LRA, the people they've terrorized, and the people fighting back. Written by Axe, Army of God will be drawn by Tim Hamilton, a Brooklyn based cartoonist and illustrator who adapted Treasure Island and Farenheit 451 into graphic novels.
"The situation in Congo is changing rapidly in some regards, and in others it's not changing at all," says Axe. "Corrupt president Kabila just won re-election, most likely through massive voter fraud. His hold on power will be a stumbling block to improved security. But growing awareness of Congo's problems, and a new U.S. military mission to help fight the LRA, offer some hope."
Real stories. Real people. Real places. Told through comics. See you next year.
In July 2011, Cartoon Movement's editorial team spent a month in Haiti in search of a comic artist and journalists to produce comics journalism about life in Haiti. This video is a record of that project. It was shot and edited by Caroline Bins, a video journalist who accompanied us.
On 12 January 2012, the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that demolished Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, we will publish the first chapter of the comic that is the result of the project.
By Tjeerd Royaards
Remember this cartoon? I made it during our stay in Haiti as a response to the massive amount of missionaries that come to Haiti to save souls. It turned out we were not the only ones who were annoyed by these groups of Americans overflowing with righteousness. We met with Leonie Hermantin, a Haitian living in Miami and working for the Lambi Fund of Haiti, an NGO focusing on sustainable development in Haiti. Leonie shared our dislike for missionaries, and when I showed the cartoon I did, she immediately said she wanted it on a T-shirt.
A month ago, Leonie informed me she would be traveling to Haiti again, and she would like to wear the shirt to make a statement. I made the design for her, and asked if she could send me a photo; she replied she would try to get picture of herself, posing with a missionary. And she succeeded: