Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Cartoon Movement platform. At the beginning of this year, we were planning something special to mark this occasion: a (retrospective) exhibition, perhaps a festival where we would invite a number of our cartoonists. But, unfortunately, the pandemic got in the way.
So, as we enter another lockdown here in the Netherlands, we'll have to settle for presenting this modest retrospective on our blog, highlighting one cartoon each year that was special to us in the last decade.
Although Cartoon Movement launched on December 15, 2010, the cartoonist community has been around since 2008. Some of you might remember our old website vjmovement.com, which we shared with video journalists.
The very first cartoon we published back in 2008 was this one by Marcin Bondarowicz from Poland, titled The cold wind of crisis (remember the financial crisis?):
(The first one ever published on Cartoon Movement is this one by Ukrainian cartoonist Vladimir Kazanevsky.)
These two cartoons illustrate the type of work we tend to publish. Social commentary that is purely visual and doesn't require words to communicate a powerful message.
In early 2011, the Arab Spring entered our website, with hundreds a cartoons about the revolutions that swept the Arab nations, many from cartoonists living in these countries themselves. One of the most special cartoons to us is the one below by Sherif Arafa. It is the first time in his career he could draw Egypt's leader Mubarak, forced to step down the day before, without fear of being arrested:
In 2012, most of the cartoons we published had to do with the ongoing financial and economic crisis. People were hit hard, and unemployment rose sharply, as illustrated in this cartoon by Joseba Morales:
Over the years, we have done many projects on more timeless themes, such as justice, peace and the consequences of war. These are universal themes that define the human condition, and cartoonists have developed a universal visual language to deal with them. One image that we remember from 2013 is this harrowing image by Sunnerberg Constantin:
This cartoon by Rodrigo De Matos is special, because gender equality is a topic that is often drawn about, but rarely in quite such an elegant and simple way as in this cartoon. In fact, this cartoon is almost always included when we give trainings and workshops, to explain what cartoonists do (comment on injustices in society), how they do it (using visual language), and why it has such an impact (it can be understood in 3 seconds or less):
2015 was marked by what happened on January 15 of that year. The attack on Charlie Hebdo has become a grim milestone in the profession, reminding all cartoonists what the cost of making satire can be. This cartoon by Gatis Sluka conveys a sentiment that many cartoonist felt in the aftermath of the attack, a feeling we hope persists until this day. You might cut us down, but we will come back in force:
Two subjects come to mind when we think about 2016: Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Our favorite cartoon from this year is about Brexit, and was made by Ukrainian artist Aexander Dubovsky. It's a deceptively simple image that works on a number of levels, and it's a perfect summary of the feeling in Europe after the Brexit vote and part of a BBC slideshow with a number of our Brexit cartoons, made shortly after the referendum.
If 2016 is summarized in a Brexit cartoon, then 2017 must feature a Trump cartoon. And if any of you remember Trump's first tumultuous year in office, you'll probably agree this cartoon by Austrian cartoonist Marian Kamensky is an apt illustration:
One of the most special projects we did in the past 10 years was to illustrate all 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in partnership with the United Nations Human Rights Office, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the UDHR. Not only do we think it's important to keep pushing for human rights, doing so in the universal language of visual satire was a unique approach that had a profound impact. It is difficult to choose one right over another, but this illustration of article 5 (No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) by Elihu Duayer still makes us laugh. It's funny because it's true...
Again a year with enough to cartoon about. But looking through our archive of published cartoons, this one by Seyran Caferli stood out. Not only was it one of the popular cartoons that year, it's timeless quality and subject matter show what cartoons are all about. They lay bare the mechanisms of power, and the best cartoonists only need a few lines to do so:
2020 is of course the year of corona. At the start of the pandemic, some called COVID-19 the great equalizer, because everyone, rich or poor, could fall victim to it. But in a world of growing inequality, the impact of a virus is also unequal, hitting the weakest in society the worst. This cartoon by Mansoure Dehgani says it all:
Thanks to all of you for all your support over the last 10 years. We hope to be able to continue for at least 1o years more (and hopefully a lot longer)!