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The European Cartoon Award 2021 is open for submissions


From May 6 to June 18, 2021, cartoonists that publish in all 47 countries of the Council of Europe can submit their work for the second edition of the European Cartoon Award. Founded in 2021, by the European Press Prize and Studio Europa Maastricht to encourage cartoonists in their essential work for freedom of expression, the European Cartoon Award has one of the highest monetary prizes for cartoonists, granting its winner a prize of 10,000 euros.

About the European Cartoon Award

The European Cartoon Award was founded in 2019 by European Press Prize and Studio Europa Maastricht to encourage cartoonists in their essential work for freedom of expression. "Cartoonists are an 'endangered species': they have to deal with increasing resistance, censorship, and even threats and violence. Their space is shrinking, both in available publications and in the themes they can tackle. That is not only happening far away, but also right here in Europe,” says director of the European Press Prize Thomas van Neerbos.

Essential for democracy

Cartoons are an indispensable part of the public debate. In the universal language of the image, they transcend borders and put their finger on the sore spot. Averse to convention, challenging, creative and playful, cartoons are the hallmark of open European society. Gonny Willems, director of Studio Europa Maastricht: “In these unprecedented times of polarization, there is a lack of understanding for the perspective of the other. Cartoons can offer an opening to the truth of the other with irony, humor and sharpness.”


Cartoonists can submit their work from May 6, the deadline is June 18, 2021. Submitted cartoons must have been realized between 1 January and 31 December 2020 and published in European media, online or offline. The award ceremony for this second edition will take place in September 2021.

10-member jury

The jury for the 2021 edition consists, among others, of the winner of the European Cartoon Award 2020: Anne Derenne. The jury chair of 2020, Janet Anderson, will also participate again, together with eight other professionals - cartoonists, activists and journalists - whose names will be released in the upcoming weeks.

About the European Press Prize
The European Press Prize mission is to encourage and guarantee quality journalism in Europe, especially in times when quality and freedom of the press are under pressure. The European Press Prize was founded by seven independent European foundations with strong media connections, all of which count excellence and public service as part of their collective challenge. 

About Studio Europa Maastricht
Studio Europe Maastricht is an expertise center for Europe-related debate and research, started in 2018 at the initiative of Maastricht University, the Province of Limburg and the Municipality of Maastricht. With our broad expertise and rich activity we stimulate public debate and seek the best answers to the challenges Europe is facing today and will face tomorrow.


The laughter paradox: on satire and sexual violence

By Emanuele Del Rosso

You must know I love Gipi. As a cartoonist, his sheer talent and creativity are what I feel I must aim for, at least from a stylistic point of view. That’s why some days ago, as I often do, I visited his Instagram profile, and that’s when I read his short story Inspector Modern.


The story Gipi drew

The story goes like this – you can read it here, in Italian: Inspector Modern – that’s his surname – is in his office when a woman, Marisa, is brought in. She’s hurt and bruised and wants to denounce sexual aggression. Andrea assaulted her, she says. At this point Inspector Modern loses it completely, and starts cursing at the male universe, saying that he feels ashamed of being a male himself because of these episodes of violence.

Then he concludes that, after all, this is a simple case, because Marisa is a woman. He believes her, because “one must always believe a woman. That’s not that hard to understand.”


So Andrea is brought in. But Andrea is a woman as well. And she says Marisa assaulted her. Moderno is baffled and lost for words. The end.


Paradox and reality

So, the paradox here would be that he said we should always believe women, and there are two women giving contradictory statements, accusing each other. Who to believe, then?


Some context. Gipi wrote this story in the aftermaths of a scandal that is still rampaging in Italy: the son of Beppe Grillo, one of the founders of the political party Five Stars Movement, has been accused of having raped – together with four of his friends – a girl. A video of the violence is circulating the web, and Beppe Grillo made his own video to defend his son, and then Grillo’s wife did the same, and then, and then, you get the gist.

So, does Gipi’s paradox sound appropriate, to you?


Some things, we shouldn’t say

I got to the Instagram post containing the short comic strip when the shitstorm was blowing at its hardest against Gipi.

His line of defense was pretty much something on the line of “cancel culture,” or “nobody gets me,” or “how can you think I would justify a rape,” or “this is just a simple story,” things that to me amount to say, when accused of racism: “Let me tell you, I have so many black friends!”

From the perspective of a cartoonist – which I am, although I am an editorial cartoonist and Gipi is not, so there are some differences – there are things that you could say, because they might be clever and make somebody laugh, but you decide not to say them, because they would be inappropriate, and although not openly wrong, surely distasteful.

Gipi says he wrote his story after having read an editorial written by Simonetta Sciandivasci in the newspaper Il Foglio. I can’t read the article, since I am not a subscriber, but I found a tweet by Sciandivasci which, interestingly, sounds like a comment on Gipi’s Inspector Modern.

She says, I translate: “Here is an answer given by Altan – legendary editorial cartoonist – that should come to mind when we support the line of ‘everyone is stupid/one can’t say anything anymore.” And what Altan says is, I translate a part of it: “There are things we should simply not say. Because they are horrible. They add nothing: at best, they deform things.”


Isn’t this what every professional should do? One can make mistakes, but the struggle is always finding the balance between making a statement and not offending in a gratuitous way some of the individuals involved in a story.

But here, Gipi’s choice of drawing this strip, and the arrogant defense of his freedom of being sharp and cynical, are a mere stylistic exercise.

Why draw a story based on a paradox about sexual harassment, whose pivotal sentence is “One must always believe a woman. That’s not that hard to understand.”? The premise is wrong, and, even worse, sounds like a mockery of a statistical fact, a journalistic fact, a freaking fact: during 2020 alone, 91 women were killed, and there were 1,522 emergency calls for stalking and violence only between March and June 2020. Ha, ha, ha! Right?

I call this behavior lack of professional deontology, of professional ethics, that is. Gipi is not an editorial cartoonist, but he is, like all of us, a creator of culture. He has an ample following, and when he decides to give his opinion he must know there will be people listening.

We must to dare not laugh

Honestly, I’m growing tired of this habit of marking people that take things seriously as “boring” or unable to understand irony, or “touchy” or “humorless.”

There are things that are not funny, even if a funny story can be drawn about such things. In this particular case, although I don’t support full-on attacks on a cartoonist, I think critiques were totally justified. By the way, I haven’t spotted even a single insult towards Gipi in the comments thread under his story.

This strip is clever, yes, maybe even funny, but doesn’t make me laugh. I actually do not want to laugh at it, because laughter is an extremely serious matter, and even smiling at the Inspector Modern story would mean, in a way, allowing a sad story – or all the sad stories – of violence and harassment to be summarized by a silly and empty paradox. Laughing is, more often than not, a statement.

Laughter is an extremely serious matter. This also is a paradox.