Last week, we welcomed our first cartoonist from Afghanistan; this week, we welcome our first cartoonist from Malta. We're also very happy to welcome a new cartoonist from Ukraine to Cartoon Movement.
Sergii Fedko is a cartoonist from Ukraine. Sergii works as an architect in Kiev; in addition he makes cartoons for newspaper and magazines.
Steve Bonelllo is a freelance cartoonist and illustrator based on the island of Malta. Since 1991, he contributes a weekly cartoon to Maltese newspaper the Sunday Times. You can see more of his work on his website.
My thoughts on cartoons and plagiarism - by Tjeerd Royaards
I wouldn't like to be accused of plagiarism, nor would any cartoonist I know. Making cartoons means taking pride in thinking up and then creating original content. That said, it's happened more than once that my cartoon closely resembled the work of a colleague cartoonist. That's not really all that surprising, given we all tend to focus on the same events, and we all tend to use the same visual toolbox. Here's an example of a while back, when I did a cartoon about the violence in Israel, replacing the star of David with smoke trails left by bullets. Some time later I saw a cartoon by Dutch cartoonist Ruben L. Oppenheimer, who did a similar cartoon with rockets (and he was first).
In these cases, I tend to send an email to the artist, share a laugh about how our mind apparently work in similar ways, and move on to my next cartoon. But not everyone agrees that most of these cases are just coincidences. Many cartoon sites, especially in the Middle East (Tabrizcartoon, Irancartoon, Syriacartoon) devote a lot of time an attention to pointing out similarities in cartoons, especially cartoons that win awards in one of the numerous cartoon competitions that take place around the world. There is even a magazine devoted to it called Similarities (although the last issue came out in 2011). The question they pose is always the same: is it just a coincidence, or is the cartoonist in question is guilty of plagiarism? The tone of the posts often tends towards the latter. Here are some examples:
Two pages from an issue of the magazine 'Similarities', available in PDF here.
A couple of days ago, a Turkish cartoonist asked me to sign a petition on Change.org. In it cartoonists call for a change in the rules of the Aydin Dogan International Cartoon Competition, a major Turkish cartoon competition. They want to add a period of 7-15 days between the selection of the finalists and deciding on the works that will receive the awards. In this period the finalists' works should be published online, and open to scrutiny by the public. Basically, to gauge whether they are original or not.
The intent of the petition might be good (petitioners say such a change will prevent any future unclarity or controversy about the originality of award-winning cartoon), but after due consideration, I have decided I will not sign. In my view, it will create a dynamic that assumes cartoonists, when unchecked, will plagiarize. My work as editor of Cartoon Movement allows me to work with an meet many international artists. I have not met a single one that I would think capable of willfully plagiarizing the work of another cartoonist. They all take great pride in their work, and so they should. Becoming a good cartoonist isn't easy, and I think it's fair to say to none of us are in it for the money.
The request to sign the petition did trigger me to write this post. I would also very much welcome the thoughts of others (cartoonists and non-cartoonists) on this matter. Are cartoonists plagiarizing to an extent that justifies taking action, or should we just accept that coincidences happen, laugh about it, and create more cartoons?
We're delighted to welcome the first cartoonist from Afghanistan to our community. Mehdi Amini is a 31-year old political cartoonist from Kabul. His work is considered too extreme in a country where freedoms are increasingly restricted and the Taliban has renewed control in some regions, so we are very happy to be able to provide platform for his cartoons.
Next week, we publish chapter 2 of A Century of Silent Helpers, a 50-page comic by Tom Humberstone and Tjeerd Royaards chronicling the history of Cordaid (a catholic Dutch development aid organization), within the broader context of the history of international development aid in the 20th century. The second chapter tells the story of Jos van Mackelenberg, president of a predecessor of Cordaid during World War II, who risked his life to save two Jewish children.
Read chapter one here.
This summer (depending on a successful Kickstarter campaign), three students of the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London are launching Modern Times, a magazine full of graphic journalism. Each issue will take on a different social theme; the first one will focus on housing. We talk to Katherine Hearst, one of the students behind this initiative.
Tell us more about your initiative. How did it come about?
'We were inspired by US radio show This American Life. Each week, they feature a range of stories related to a particular theme. We wanted to do something similar, only not on the radio, but in a newspaper.'
Why choose graphic journalism?
'Objective journalism is hard to come by, especially in mainstream newspapers. So its not only about showcasing graphic journalism, it's also about providing a platform for stories that you would not find in the mainstream media. We think graphic journalism is a great medium for story-telling. We're not just talking about comics, but photography and video as well.'
'We want to provide a platform where emerging artists can exhibit their work alongside established artists. We want a real mix of types of work and different narratives, and that comes from a real mix of people. Also, including some known artists obviously boosts our profile.'
Assuming you reach your Kickstarter goal and your first issue is a success, what's your vision for the future of the magazine. Do you plan to fund every issue with a crowdfunding campaign?
'We'll have to see. I envision it to be both a printed and online publication. There’s lots of beautifully designed printed publications out there, but they're expensive to produce and not as far-reaching as a site. The main reason we want an online alternative, however, is that for the next issue, we want to feature film and sound documentaries as well as photography, writing and illustration.'
When do you plan to come out with the first issue?
'Once we get our funding, copies will be available at a number of comics and art fairs. We are also hoping to get them stocked in the best comic shops, art bookshops and even galleries around London.’
Cartoon by Steve Benson, Arizona Republic
Cartoonists Rights Network International calls for nominations for their annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning. Previous winners include Tony Namate from Zimbabwe, Zapiro from South Africa, and Zunar from Malaysia.
Every year CRNI gives this award to a political or social cartoonist who has demonstrated exceptional courage in the face of overwhelming threats while pursuing their Article 19 freedom of speech rights and the art of political cartooning. The award serves as a global recognition of and protection to cartoonists who are victims of illegal forms of intimidation and censorship.
Nominations will be accepted from June 1 to June 15, 2014.
Please send your nomination(s) to the Executive Director, Cartoonists Rights Network International at the following email address: email@example.com. The message line should read: 'Annual Award' and the email should contain a brief description of the threats made against the cartoonist and why you feel this person should receive the award. Your email must contain a way to communicate with either you and the cartoonist you are nominating.
CRNI Board of Directors will meet in early July to select a recipient, who will be invited to the award ceremonies in the city of San Francisco, California USA in October, 2014.
CRNI does not award nor make editorial comments about a particular cartoon. We award a cartoonist's courage in the face of great danger. At the same time, we do not defend cartoonists who produce cartoons that advocate violence, promote hate, or use racism as a weapon.
Drawing Citizenship (a cartoon project reflecting on European Citizenship in the run-up to the European elections, in cooperation with the European Cultural Foundation) has drawn to a close, with the selection of 8 cartoons out of more than 200 submissions from both Europe and the rest of the world.
This has been one of the more interesting projects, as it is a very interesting time for the European project. In western Europe, and in countries facing severe austerity measures (like Greece), euroskepticism is on the rise. In France and the UK, anti-Europe parties (Front National and the UK Independence Party respectively) were the biggest winners of the European elections. In other parts of Europe, the mood is different. For instance, the majority in Italy, Romania and Portugal voted for left-wing parities, not aiming for less Europe, but a more social Europe instead.
So, did the cartoons reflect how Europeans feel about Europe? Well, yes and no.
No, because there were no outright anti-Europe cartoons sent in for this project. This is probably because (with the notable exception of the US, where there is a long and rich tradition of conservative cartoonists) cartoonists tend to be progressive individuals, who shy away from populism, nationalism and migration restrictions (which is what most anti-Europe parties have in common).
Yes, because we did receive some highly critical cartoons about the European Union. There's one by Vladimir Kazanevsky (shown above), visualizing the EU as mountaineers trying to reach the summit. Their safety lines are not attached to each other's waists, but like nooses to their necks. Other cartoons reflect a number themes, some decidedly progressive, others felt by Europeans from both the left and the right side of the political spectrum.
The majority of cartoons about Europe can, broadly speaking, be divided in four categories:
1) Highlighting the gap between the people in power and the European citizens.
3) Focusing on the economy, and the fact that Europe has become (in the eyes of many cartoonists) a representative of capitalist interests of banks and multinationals, with little or no regard anymore for the common citizen.
Cartoons by Anne Derenne and Trayko Popov.
4) The immigration policy of Europe; the EU should be about shared prosperity, but the freedom enjoyed by people within Europe stands in sharp contrast with the way we deal with people trying to get in.
Cartoons by Igor Lukyachenko and Tjeerd Royaards.
What a lot of these cartoons have in common is that they visualize the EU as a polity that is far removed from the Europeans. This is quite an accurate reflection of how many people in the EU feel, and why so many people stay at home on election day, or, when they do vote, decide to support anti-Europe parties.
Part of this project was to explore, apart from European politics and institutions, the ties that bind us together as Europeans. But the sad truth is, that at the moment, it is precisely the institutions of the EU (and the remote and undemocratic way they function) that seem to be the biggest obstacle in the way of developing any form of European citizenship.