By Tjeerd Royaards
September 15 marked the International Day of Democracy. For this occasion, Cartoon Movement was asked by the Syrian Committee in the Netherlands to give a workshop on editorial cartooning and the importance of political cartoons for democracy. The workshop focused on the power of cartoons in the face of oppression, and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Syria in particular. The assault on Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat shows the impact cartoons can have on a tyrannical regime.
The central question: what is it that makes dictators fear cartoonists so much?
The answer: they just can't stand to be ridiculed.
Paradoxically, they often make it very easy to do just that, not only by what they do, but also by how they look. Common tastes among tyrants include gaudy general-like outfits with lots of medals, very large sunglasses and oversized caps.
Even in the case of Bashir al-Assad, who isn't as fond of over-the-top outfits as some of his more extravagant colleagues, making a caricature is relatively easy, helped by some remarkable physical traits.
To show all you non-cartoonists out there how easy our job is (the drawing part, that is, not the making-a-living-with-drawing part), here's a very simple how-to-draw-Assad I used in the workshop to show that everybody can do caricatures of the world's worst tyrants. And if we all started making fun of dictators, it might just help end their reign a little sooner.
How to draw a dictator:
If you want to share your Assad caricature, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and will add it to this post.