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Highlights of 2021

Highlights of 2021


Despite the pandemic, 2021 was a good year for Cartoon Movement. In addition to publishing many, many cartoons and welcoming a lot of new cartoonists to our community, we also did numerous cartoon-related projects.

We published a lot of comics journalism, doing multiple projects with the London School of Economic and the University of Sheffield. You can see all our comics here. We are about to embark on a new comic for the University of British Colombia.

Aspiring cartoonists often ask us if we can review their work and give feedback. To accommodate this, we started Cartoonist 2 Cartoonist, a monthly live chat on Instagram. Cartoonists can send in work, which is discussed by CM editors Tjeerd Royaards and Emanuele del Rosso. Check out all the episodes here.

In partnership with the Sound and Vision Institute of the Netherlands, we launched Evergreen Satire in 2021. Evergreen Satire links several museums and institutes that house archives of editorial cartoons, with the aim of organizing events and exhibitions to give new relevance to historical cartoons. Check out our first online event here. The next event will be in February.

One of the most special things we achieved in 2021 was to assist with the evacuation of political cartoonist Hossein Rezaei from Afghanistan. Hossein was forced to leave his life in Kabul behind as the Taliban took the city. Read his story here.

Another special project was the creation of a cartoon mural in Johannesburg. In just 5 days, we managed to fill the wall of a 4-story building in South Africa with a cartoon that was based on idea by a young South African, designed by a Cuban cartoonist and executed by a street artist from Cape Town. See the full creative journey here.

In addition to all this, we also reviewed a number of books and wrote editorials commenting on cartoon-related news.

The best cartoons of 2021

The end of December is approaching, so it’s time for our traditional top 10 of the best cartoons of the year. In 2021, we published a total of 236 cartoons (so far) as an editor’s choice on our homepage, chosen out of 8524 cartoons that were sent in by our cartoonists.

The 10 best we have selected are not all editor’s choices, but instead are based on how they resonated with our audience. We have also aimed to cover some of the most the important topics in the news this year, and to represent the geographical spread of our cartoonists. And we've tried to represent all genders, even though the profession is still very much dominated by men.

This selection is to some degree arbitrary, as limiting our selection to just 10 cartoons means we had to leave out a number of excellent cartoons about important topics. We hope you will enjoy the cartoons here nonetheless. If you would like to keep up to date with our best cartoons, consider subscribing to our monthly newsletter.


The last joke

January - Antonio Rodriguez

The only Trump cartoon in this year's selection is by Mexican cartoonist Antonio Rodriguez, with a cartoon about the attack on the Capitol in January.


Health inequality

February - Mahnaz Yazdani

Out of all the cartoons about the unequal distribution of vaccines (and there were quite a few), this one by Mahnaz Yazdani from Iran is by far the most popular.


The endarkenment

April - Max Gustafson

Another hugely popular cartoon is this one by Max Gustafson, who reflects on the time we live in.



May - Tjeerd Royaards

This year's violent outbreak in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was illustrated by Tjeerd Royaards.


Floods in Europe

July - Marian Kamensky

Another very popular cartoon, this one by Marian Kamensky from Austria, also illustrates the endarkenment (as Max Gustafson calls it). More extreme weather events, like the floods in the Europe in July, do little to sway the opinion of climate deniers.


The corporate ladder

June - Peter Sully

Mocking corporate culture is an evergreen pastime for cartoonists, and always popular with fans of cartoons. This one is by Australian cartoonist Peter Sully.


Keyboard warrior

September - Tomas

Another subject that is good for popular cartoons every year is social media, how it affects our lives, how addicted we are to it and how we use and abuse it. This cartoons by Italian cartoonist Tomas deals with that last subject.



October - Vasco Gargalo

Continuing our streak of evergreen that subjects, here is one by Portuguese cartoonist Vasco Gargalo, responding to yet another report (this time in France) about widespread child abuse by Catholic priests.


Career Perspective

2782-211122 Gender (Zamani)_small

Life in Afghanistan will be very different for girls, now that the Taliban have taken over, says Nahid Zamani from Iran.


Knowledge and peace

2740-210921 Peace (Dehgani)_small

But it is the next generation that will shape the future. Hopefully, they will do so by aiming for the stars, and not their fellow humans, as illustrated in this beuatiful visual by Mansoure Dehghani, who is also from Iran.

If your interested to see our most popular cartoons from previous, you can check out the 2020 here, 2019 here and 2018 here.

New cartoonist: Helena Anillo


We've been getting more and more female artists to join Cartoon Movement. A great development, although our community (reflecting the profession of political cartoonists in general) is still very much dominated by men.

So we take great pleasure in welcoming Spanish cartoonist Helena Anillo. Her work is very recognizable, with a playful style and limited color palette. She currently collaborates with media from Spain and Andorra. Check out her Instagram to see more of her work (in Spanish).

The future of farming in Kenya

This comic was made together with the London School of Economics and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The story features young and old farmers in Kenya, representatives of old organizations that used to manage agriculture, and a (fictional) start-up that tries to convince farmers to adopt new technology to move farming into the future. The comic gives an overview of the benefits, but also the dangers, of using new technology.

Explaining some of the terms in the comic:

Extension officers: the old organizations in this comic are represented by extension officers. Officials employed by (local) government to help farmers improve their way of working.

Middle men: many Kenyan farmers rely on middle men to get their surplus produce to market, and to get credit to purchase seeds and equipment.

The comic was drawn by renowned Kenyan artist Maddo and written by Laura Mann, Gianluca Iazzolino, Hellen Mukiri-Smith and Marion Ouma. You can download the PDF here.























Review: Power Born of Dreams


Power Born of Dreams – My Story is Palestine
Street Noise Books
118 pages

Some of you may remember that Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh was arrested by Israel authorities in 2013. He spent five months in jail for 'contact with a hostile organization'. Many suspect his sentence was because of his work as a critical cartoonist.

At the time, we ran a cartoon campaign to spread the word about his wrongful imprisonment. This year, Mohammad has released a graphic novel about his experiences in jail. Or, perhaps more accurately, he uses his time in jail as a red thread to tell stories about Palestinian people and the lives they lead.

The story starts with Mohammad in jail, recounting the interrogations, the boredom and the isolation. The first sentence of the book is a quote by a fellow prisoner: 'When you're in prison, your whole world is made of steel'. How do you get through the day when your world is no larger than a prison cell? Mohammad manages to smuggle a pen and some paper into his cell, to draw about his experiences and drive the boredom away.


4Click to enlarge.


During his time in prison, Mohammad befriends a talking bird. At least, in the book; I suspect talking animals were not a part of his real prison experience. But this invented element allows him to introduce dialogue into the story. Birds are also the universal symbol for freedom, and using a bird as his conversation partner is a clever way to juxtapose his imprisonment with his dreams of freedom. Moreover, the bird plays a crucial element in the structure of the narrative.

Mohammad and the bird strike a deal; the bird will fly out, using freedom to visit the Palestian people and hear their stories. He will tell Mohammad these stories, and Mohammad will use his drawing skills to record them. In this way, we hear stories from a pregnant couple in Jerusalem trying to reach the hospital to give birth, children living in Gaza, and a teacher in the West Bank whose student was shot by Israeli troops. They are all stories of oppression and imprisonment of one form or another.


3Click to enlarge.


These stories deserve to be told, but it is that way Sabaaneh tells them that takes them to a new level. He did not draw his graphic novel, but instead carved every single line, using linocut printing. This results in images that are presented in a stark black and white, giving the work a dramitic quality that works really well with Sabaaneh's angular style that is at times reminiscent of social realism. This style also fits with the activist story that Sabaaneh is trying to tell, protesting against the presence and policies of Israel. Here below is a video where you can the Sabaaneh at work creating some of the pages:



This is a book that deserves a broad international audience. Sabaaneh condemns how Israel treats Palestinians by telling the stories of ordinary Palestinians and by telling his own story. And these stories prove to be a very effective form of resistance. You can order Power Born of Dreams on Amazon (of course), but you can also support your local book store and try to order your copy through them.

Tjeerd Royaards
Cartoon Movement editor

CRNI launches Cartoonists’ Legal Advisory Network

Cartoonists Legal Advisory Network-1

Cartoonists Rights Network International has launched a new service for cartoonists who get in trouble. From CRNI's website:

CRNI wants to hear from you if you are, or you represent, a cartoonist who fears criminalisation. The Cartoonists’ Legal Advisory Network exists to provide reliable and rapid guidance to those cartoonists who face arrest, court action or harassment from the police or judiciary.

Who do we support?

-Those who have been arrested, cautioned or questioned by the police, or have reason to believe they soon will be.
-Those who have received notification of a court action pertaining to criminal charges.
-Those who believe a change in the laws of their nation will immediately render them liable to criminal prosecution.

You can read more details and contact the legal department of CRNI here.