Online event: Can we laugh at 2022?

Entering_2023_-_Del_RossoCartoon by Emanuele Del Rosso

Our publishing partner VoxEurop looks back on 2022 in the company of two cartoonists, the Dane Niels Bo Bojesen and the Netherlands-based Italian Emanuele Del Rosso. You can meet the two cartoonists on 24 January at 12.30 p.m. CET, for an hour of conversation in English. They will comment on the news of the past year, suggest some ways to approach the year to come, and talk to us about their profession and passion. You can register for free to attend the online event here.

An Editorial Artist on Perseverance

Interview by Emily Diamond from with Brazilian cartoonist Thiago Lucas

As the death toll from the pandemic mounted in Brazil, I wanted to make sure the International Pandemic Art Archives had work from Brazil. I happened upon the work of Thiago Lucas. This article came about through a series of email exchanges. –E.D.


I have been in the habit of drawing since I was a child. I remember drawing daily at home, at my grandparent’s house, and also at school. I made the drawings on paper, in sketchbooks and even on the wall. I used a pencil, pen and crayons. I remember that my first encounter with drawings of humor, caricatures and cartoons was in an art textbook that had a chapter on graphic art. Then a friend showed me a folder full of newspaper clippings with cartoons by artists from my hometown, Recife. It was love at first sight! Since that moment, I had a dream for my life—to become a cartoonist and illustrator. From then on I stopped drawing things like houses and landscapes, and dedicated myself entirely to graphic humor and editorial art. The need to make this art has always been to face the abandonment, inequality and abuse in Brazil, and also in the world.

At the age of 15, I joined ACAPE (Association of Cartoonists of Pernambuco), an organization that brought together renowned artists and beginners like me on a weekly basis. It was through ACAPE that I had the opportunity to do my first paid work as a cartoonist, made cartoons at events, and published for the first time in the Jornal do Commercio, in a section called, Games of Errors.

The concepts and ideas for the art sometimes suddenly appear, in other cases I do a study and analysis of events through reading on the topic, and then I use pencil and paper to write my reflections and sketch ideas. However, if I look closely, even those ideas that suddenly appeared to me are the result of an analysis and reflection that is already taking place in my brain. The editorial artist’s job is the constant observation and analysis of the objective and subjective reality of society, this incessant search for interpreting the political, economic and social aspects of the world is automatic in our daily lives. Doing the art can be cathartic.

A_luta_pela_liberdade_de_imprensa__thiago_lucasThe Power of satire, by Lucas, 2020

OBLOMOVISMO E MACHISMO_THIAGO LUCAS-01Violence against women, by Lucas, 2020

The current pandemic caused by the coronavirus has been a kind of magnifying glass that made the injustices, social inequalities and abuses of political authorities more evident and visceral. The effects of the health crisis we are going through are very unequal. The poorest end up suffering even more, as they don’t have the same sanitary conditions and basic health care as a person who is richer. It’s a situation of great injustice. In addition, my country has a fascist President of the Republic in power, Bolsonaro, who is completely devoid of empathy and social sensitivity, dealing with public health issues with complete disregard.

In addition to specific public health issues, we face abuses of power by the Brazilian judiciary, which took sides in pursuing and revoking the political rights of former President Lula on the eve of a presidential election, in an evident attack on democratic institutions. We also had the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, which was a real horror show in the Brazilian parliament, where the power-hungry political class carried out a political coup by taking a democratically elected president out of power. We are going through a health and a democratic crisis.

1Brazilian President Bolsonaro as the source of fake news in the pandemic, Lucas, 2020

For me, there are the technical issues of doing the art, but the greater difficulties are more concentrated on having to portray themes of great suffering and injustices for the less favored, such as prejudices, violence, and social inequalities. The editorial artist needs to expose the insides of social ills, and this activity of diving into this ocean of pain, suffering and blood is a task that leaves us very moved and breathless. In some moments I have also had some fears for safety, as in a work that I did portraying prejudice on the part of public security agents. I’m grateful for the support of my mother, aunt, father, grandparents and friends. They helped me realize my dream of speaking out through art. In the hardest moments, I try to put the social function of the artist first, to be aware that social injustices need to be denounced by art. I believe that a word that expresses well the exercise of the artist's role is perseverance, because we face daily difficulties, resistance, crises, censorship, and attacks. These make the perfect storm for our journey to be arduous and full of stones and thorns, but as time goes by our skin starts to become hard and resistant to the scratches and wounds.

2Facing censorship, Lucas, 2020

Public health issues have always been the subject of some artists and cartoonists, we can see it in editorial art from past centuries. Public health, social justice and social inequality are related themes and they are the artist's raw materials. We cannot deny that when we face public health crises, such as epidemics and pandemics, the focus is more intensely on these issues, because public health crises brings with them other related issues, such as social injustices and political unrest, for example. In the end, our reality is a great kaleidoscope of multifaceted experiences and realities. As an example, the motivation for the work "Negligence" was the neglect of the Brazilian authorities in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In Manaus, in northern Brazil, patients died of suffocation due to lack of oxygen equipment, an enormous tragedy.

3Negligence, by Thiago Lucas, 2020

I have a constant concern and anguish about the future of the arts and artists. This is because unfortunately we live in a society that has many individuals from the most diverse social spheres who despise art and come to fight it. This is expressed in the persecution of artists, attacks on freedom of expression, and lack of government aid to artistic actions. There is also the drop in the number of readers of books, newspapers and magazines, leading to a drop in the number of opportunities and vacancies in the labor market. In short, this is a set of consequences that generate a hostile environment for artistic work.

We live in dark times, where culture and democracy are constantly attacked. In this context, art acts as one of the strongholds of resistance against authoritarianism that contaminates our society. Editorial art and caricatures are artistic expressions that can use humor as an instrument of criticism to contest the reality promoted by those in power, whether that power is political, economic, social or cultural. So let's move forward, with courage and perseverance, cultivating a critical and engaged art.

Cartoons and science in the 18th and 19th century


For those interested in the history of political cartoons, Nature has published an interesting interview with a historian about cartoons from the 18th and 19th century that provide snapshots of social and political debates around the emergence of modern research. The conclusion shouldn't be surprising: pictures are an extremely effective way of conveying a message.

The above illustration by James Gillray from 1802 explores fears about using cowpox to vaccinate against smallpox. The people in the image are sprouting cows on their bodies, reflecting the fear at the time of putting a substance from another animal in your body. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

Read the full interview here.

Satire Talks Live - episode 6


Tune in tonight at 6PM CET for another episode of Satire Talks Live. Social media manager Emanuele Del Rosso hosts a live chat on our Instagram channel every two weeks, talking to different cartoonists around the globe. The talks focus on satire, censorship, copyright and other issues that pertain to political cartoons. Tonight he talks to Paulo Jorge Fernandes, Auxiliar Professor at NOVA FCSH doing academic research on satire and editorial cartoons.

Interview with Jordan Cartoonist Latif Fityani


Al Bawaba has posted an interesting Q & A with Jordan cartoonist Latif Fityani:

'Provocative is one way to describe Latif Fityani, he’s an emerging satirical artist in Jordan who digitally creates drawings or images that say something.

With that Latif doesn’t consider his work to be reaction-baiting, he describes it as attention grabbing with a purpose ---to convey an important message and make the viewer question their pre-established point of view and challenge mainstream narratives.'

Read the full interview here.


Cartooning in Rwanda

Ndarama_assoumani_2Ndarama Assoumani is an editorial cartoonist in Rwanda. Like many other governments around the world, the president and ruling party in Rwanda do not like to be criticized. We talk to Ndarama about his work and the dangers he encounters.

What sort of threats do you face as an editorial cartoonist in Rwanda?

To answer this, we need to look at the history of Rwanda before the genocide against the Tutsis in 1994. The most popular newspaper at that time, Kangura, used satire cartoons to stereotype the (Tutsi) enemies, many of them politicians. Reports and testimonies after the genocide mentioned the cartoons as propaganda tools used to serve the perpetrators of the genocide. I'm apart from the ideology of genocide; I draw on justice and peace. It is a shame that cartoons in Rwanda are still seen in the light of the genocide. Can you imagine if someone asked me "Do you want to restore Kangura?" That would mean creating divisions between people again.

I have received several anonymous calls demanding that I stop drawing or that I remove certain cartoons, especially those that cover security, government, or other topics related to the president. I am afraid of course that something could happen to me.

Are there taboos (subjects you cannot draw about) in Rwanda? And is there outright censorship on some topics?

To write and talk about sex in public was forbidden but now television and radio cover this topic. Of course all topics related to the president are taboo. It is forbidden to write articles or use photos and documents without authorization from the Office of the President. This is an unofficial law, not documented but known by all. This restriction is applicable even to topics related to the security agencies, the police and the army.

President Paul Kagame celebrates his 59th birthday on Ocober 23, 2016.

What are your favorite subjects to draw about? And do these include ‘dangerous’ topics?

I like the subjects of human rights, security and corruption, all of which are dangerous to some extent. Rwanda is placed quited high in various rankings comparing African countries. This means that relatively safe place, with little corruption. It is not true! Some reports are pure falsehood. I think as an editorial cartoonist it is my job to never give up, even if there are very dangerous topics that need to be addressed.

How is the economic situation in Rwanda; is it possible to make a living as a cartoonist?

There are two newspapers that pay cartoonists; among them is the one that I work for as a cartoonist. I earn a minimum of 200 euros and a maximum of 400 euros per month. My income is laughable; being a cartoonist is not a desirable job here. Cartoon Movement helps me to continue my work, giving me the support of an international community of cartoonists.

African Union launches one passport for Africa.

Are you positive about the future of editorial cartooning in Rwanda?

Everything is possible; the development must begin with basic skills. There is no initiative in Rwanda to help cartoonists in their skills and activities. Learning fine arts does not mean that you necessarily become an editorial cartoonist, but the government should understand the importance of freedom of expression. At present, many cartoonists shy away from politics. They become illustrators instead, choosing to draw subjects related to leisure and entertainment.