Afghanistan school attack - in cartoons

On Saturday, May 8th, there was an attack on a school in Afghanistan, killing more than 50 people. Cartoons dealing with this got kind of lost in our newsroom, as headlines (and thus cartoons) focused on the escalating crisis in Israel.

However, given the recent plans to withdraw US and NATO troops (see our cartoon collection on that here), the attack might be a harbinger for the future of Afghanistan, with girls again being prevented from to go to school. Here, we wanted to highlight these cartoons: some of them paint a grim picture, but some also offer a message of hope.


By Shahid Atiqullah.


By Mansoure Dehghani.


By DARA Jam.



By Hossien Rezaye.



By Mahnaz Yazdani.


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.


Cartoons for the Council of Europe


We're proud to be partnering with the with the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe this year. Throughout 2021, we will support the various publications of the Commissioner with cartoons about human rights issues. You can see the first cartoon here.

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent and impartial non-judicial institution established in 1999 by Council of Europe to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the 47 Council of Europe member states.

Check out our first cartoon, about the right of journalists to be protected at public assemblies, here:

Cartoons are like chess

No matter what part of the world political cartoons are from, they have a few things in common. One common trait is that they are not good at nuance. Cartoons see the world in black and white, right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is perhaps why the chessboard is such a popular symbol among cartoonists. Like cartoons chess divides reality in black and white.

And there is another division that defines chess. The divisions between the pawns and more valuable pieces. Chess divides the world up into expendable pawns, and pieces of varying degrees of power. Just like how many cartoonists view and portray the world. So it's no surprise we see the chess board used as a metaphor for inequality and in injustice is many cartoons. Here are some of our favorite examples:

German artist Rainer Ehrt divides the world into two sides of a chess board.

0118-091029 Global Chess (Ehrt)


We do our best to make sure it stays that way, according to Jean Dobritz...

Cartoon 82


...and Makhmud Eshonkulov.



Hasan Abadi shows what civil war looks like using a chess board.



Bombs become chess pieces in this cartoon by Anne Derenne.



And refugees become the expendable pieces in iMerlo's work.


The pandemic is a big game of chess, according to Zach.



Cuban artist Miguel Morales Madrigal agrees, but has a different analysis of who is his most by corona.



Get feedback on your cartoons!

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On average, we get between 10 and 20 applications from aspiring cartoonists looking to join our network every week. The majority of them, we have to turn down, because they are not good enough (yet) to meet our publication standards.

Our policy is to reply to everyone; nothing is more frustrating than sending out applications and getting no response at all. However, the question we get most often in response to a rejection is if we can give some constructive feedback. We understand this, because good feedback is the best way to improve your style.

Unfortunately, giving full and constructive feedback to every applicant would probably be a day job. That’s why we have come up with a new concept. In Cartoonist 2 Cartoonist, CM editors Ema Del Rosso and Tjeerd Royaards will go on Instagram to give live feedback on selected cartoons. The feedback will be constructive and meant to help the cartoonist to develop their style further and make his or her work better.

If you would like feedback on your work, you can send in your cartoons to and you might get selected.

And keep an eye on our website and social media for the date of the first edition, which will be soon!