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December 2011
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February 2012

Behind-the-Scenes: John Hilliard


This week's behind-the-scenes is an audio slideshow by US artist John Hilliard. In his own words it's 'an exhaustive explanation of how I make comics. In less than three minutes. Alcohol and coffee are included.'

About the cartoon : according to a report from Free Speech Radio News and the Electronic Information Privacy Center, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security hired contractors to watch comments of major websites and social media tools like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

How to make comics by Hilliard. from John Hilliard on Vimeo.

They Fear the Truth, They Fear Cartoons

Interview with Chinese cartoonist Crazy Crab

By Tjeerd Royaards

As our network of cartoonists has grown, blank spots have become apparent on our global map, often coinciding with countries that do not have the best track record when it comes to freedom of speech. China is one of these blank spots. Therefore we're very happy to to welcome our first Chinese political cartoonist to the network. Crazy Crab (pen name) is the author of Hexie Farm (Crab Farm), a series of political cartoons depicting dictatorship, censorship, and propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party. He started this series in 2009. Due to the censorship, he publishes anonymously. In October 2011, the cartoon series was completely banned in mainland China. We talk to him about cartoons, censorship, and the harmonious society.

There are not many political cartoonists working in China, are there?

No, in fact, there are lots of political cartoonists working in China. Hundreds of political cartoons are published in newspapers every day. However, you can hardly find real political satire about the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and the government from those cartoons. Cartoonists have to figure out what they can draw before drawing. Due to censorship and self-censorship, most political cartoons in China are boring and pointless.

1The portrait of Gaddafi on the Gate of Heavenly Peace. 'Who' refers to Hu Jintao, the current leader of China.

Why did you start doing political cartoons?

Before I drew cartoons, I was a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes, and Snoopy. To be a cartoonist like Bill Watterson was my dream. I never thought about drawing political cartoons until 2009, when I read the news about Mr. Feng Zhenghu and Ms. Tang Fuzhen on the Internet. Mr. Feng’s story was hilarious and Ms. Tang’s is sad. Those stories happened in an era of the so-called “harmonious society” in China. And I found no Chinese cartoonist stood up to support them. So I asked myself, why didn’t you draw something? So I did.

What's the meaning of your pen name 'Crazy Crab', and the title of your cartoon series 'Hexie Farm'?

In Chinese, ‘Hexie ’is a pun of harmony and river crab. Every day, thousands of news, articles, and pictures are censored and deleted by the government. People use “river crab” to make a joke on the Party’s “harmonious society” theory. Nowadays, “Hexie”(river crab or harmony) also means “to delete” or “be censored” on Chinese websites. 

Public critic on the Party and the government is dangerous. People might lose jobs, be detained or arrested for doing this. Their family might be threatened too. To speak out the truth, as a real citizen, might be regarded as being crazy.

What do you hope to achieve with your work?

I hope I can speak a different voice through my cartoons to the Chinese audience and to the Party. I want to combine the Chinese history and reality together in my drawings, and figure out how ridiculous the logic behind the Party’s politics is. And I also hope my audience will get a new perspective and start to think differently when they read my cartoons.

No Chinese cartoonist criticized the CCP’s political system in past 60 years. I think it will be changed soon. 

2Hong Kong and China. There is an annual memorial for the Tian'anmen protest of 1989 in Hong Kong Victoria Park.

Your cartoons were banned in China in October 2011. Why and how did this happen?

At first, they just kept on deleting my cartoons and my blogs. But since October 2011, “Hexie Farm” (in Chinese: 蟹农场) was on the list of Banned Search Terms . That means you cannot find my cartoons using Baidu search engine (the most popular Chinese search engine).  

I don’t know why they banned my cartoons. What I know is they fear the truth, they fear people’s laughter, and they fear my cartoons. According to the order from “the Ministry of Truth”, my cartoons are considered as “harmful”. They even required every Chinese website to make double check and make sure that all my cartoons were deleted. I regard this as an honor. 

How did this censorship affect you personally? Did you consider giving up political cartooning?

The Party’s censorship policy makes my cartoons impossible to be published in mainland China. In fact, the freedom of speech is affected to a large extent by the CCP even in Hong Kong.  

Sometimes I was depressed and angry. How can we breathe freely before such a powerful censor system? But I’ll not give up. I can feel the true power of laughter when my cartoons are reposted and shared on the Internet despite the authority’s determination to delete them. 

Where do you publish your work now?

Most of my cartoons are published on my blog, twitter and G+. Some were published by a few Hong Kong based magazines. I am not a columnist cartoonist yet.



How do you see the future of China?

I don’t know. China has a powerful economic engine and the country has been changing dramatically. However, the ghost of Chairmen Mao is still there. Bloody stories like Ms. Tang’s are happening never so often. Does China have a bright future while those tragedies are being censored and quickly forgotten?  

 What  role can political cartoons and cartoonists play in shaping this future?

Political cartoons not only criticize the political system and speak out for those who are fighting for their freedom and justice, but can also make people think from a different perspective. A great cartoon speaks a thousand words. I hope more and more Chinese cartoonists will stand up and speak out.   

Two Cartoon Exhibitions in London


On January 23, a  Cartoon Movement exhibition will open at the London School of Economics. The exhibition is titled 'Justice and Security: There is More Than One Truth', and features the work of Steve Greenberg, Bernard Bouton, Jean Gouders, Tjeerd Royaards, Pavel Constantin, Eray Özbek, Mohamed Sabra, KAP, Vladimir Kazanevsky, Victor Ndula, Giacomo Cardelli, Popa Matumula, Talal Nayer, Fabio Magnasciutti and Dan Archer. Opening speaker is Martin Rowson, editorial cartoonist for UK newspaper The Guardian. The exhibition will run until February 17.

Justice and Security: There is More Than One Truth

Monday January 23 – Friday February 17, 2012

Opening: Monday January 23, 7 – 9pm

Admission: Free, exhibition is open Monday-Friday, 10am-8pm

Location: LSE, Atrium Gallery, Old Building, London, UK


Please visit  the LSE website for further information.


On February 15, Cartoon Movement contributor Zunar launches his first ever solo exhibition, featuring 80 of his cartoons. The theme of the exhibition 'Fighting Through Cartoons' was selected based on the restraints and pressure from the Malaysian government that have been imposed on him and his political cartoons. The exhibition is organised by  Article 19, an international NGO that fights for the freedom of expression and information.

 Zunar: To Fight Through Cartoons

Wednesday February 15 – Thursday March 15, 2012

Opening:  15th February 2012

Admission: Tickets for the event are limited and it is based on ‘first come, first served’. Tickets can be booked from now until the 3rd February 2012. The public, especially those living in the United Kingdom, can book the tickets through this link .

Location: Free World Centre, 60 farrington Road, London, UK 


Please visit  the Article 19 website for further information.

Haiti's Scapegoats - Homophobia Spikes After the Earthquake

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. 

Picture 5

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.

Tents Beyond Tents

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.


Haitian Politics Explained

0648-120109 Haiti (Mombrun)

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: