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Two years on from Charlie Hebdo…

January 8, 2017 in General


On the second anniversary of the atrocity, several organisations (see logos above) have combined forces to present a tribute to persecuted cartoonists.

Although it undoubtedly makes for a sobering read, the continuing courage and unwavering commitment of these cartoonists to do what’s right is both humbling and uplifting.

We have included some of their work below and a link to the full tribute on the CRNI website can be found here.

Many thanks to PCO member and CRNI representative Terry Anderson for feeding this to the Blog.


© Tahar Djehiche


© Zunar


© Rayma Suprani


© Jabeur Mejri


© Musa Kart

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Ralph Steadman: “I always say a mistake is just an opportunity to do something different.”

January 8, 2017 in General


© Ralph Steadman

This New Statesman interview with the incomparable artist and PCO member (as if we’d ever let you forget) finds the great man as vibrant and busy as ever.


Ralph Steadman

The piece covers pretty much everything from early memories of wartime evacuation right up to the present day as he continues to produce political cartoons for the New Statesman. (Although, strangely, none are included in the article. We’re happy to rectify that with a couple of examples of Ralph’s brilliant work from his PCO portfolio.)

You can read more about Ralph Steadman’s unquenchable work ethic and unwavering commitment to new projects here.

Many thanks to Glenn Marshall for drawing this to the Blog’s attention.


© Ralph Steadman



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Cartoons that go viral

January 8, 2017 in General


© Will McPhaill/The New Yorker

If proof were needed of a cartoon’s effectiveness in nailing a topic more succinctly than any other medium, we’d like to present these three examples of the craft as irrefutable evidence, m’lud…

We are happy to note that two of them are by PCO members Will McPhail and Royston Robertson. The third is from Paul Noth, and a Q&A interview with the American cartoonist can be read here on the Columbia Journalism Review website. (Thanks to Glenn Marshall for the link.)


© Paul Noth/The New Yorker

This brings us back to a recurring PCO Blog theme: the ‘price of everything, value of nothing’ mentality that sees publishers continue to reduce cartoon slots. Effective economies should not involve throwing the baby out with the bath water; every ill considered cut leaves readers with one less reason to buy ‘the product’.

Perhaps those very publishers should take note that these cartoons appeared in Private Eye and The New Yorker; two publications with burgeoning sales figures and both noted champions of the cartooning art.

And by flourishing online as well as in their original habitat these wonderful, attention grabbing, thought provoking, laughter inducing artworks (and countless others like them) refute the tired trope that the cartoon is an anachronism.

Cartooning is as popular and vital as it ever was. Case closed.


© Royston Robertson/Private Eye

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Times cartoonist Peter Brookes awarded CBE in New Year’s Honours list

January 1, 2017 in General


© Peter Brookes

Whether you regard the annual awarding of the gongs as worthwhile acclaim for outstanding achievement or a worthless anachronism that rewards cronyism, there is no doubt that even the most ardent opponent of the honours system would recognise Peter Brookes’ CBE falls into the first category.

Describing the long-standing tradition of satirical newspaper cartoons as a particularly “British sort of humour”, he said that world affairs over the last two years have provided him with the most material in his 25-year career so far.

The 73-year-old told Press Association: “More than anything I am grateful to be living in a country that recognises cartoonists that criticise and satirise its politicians, compared to countries that imprison theirs – and worse.”

After a quarter of a century providing daily pieces for The Times, he said: “These days it’s the people who seem to be ruling the roost, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. This summer was unbelievable, there wasn’t a day when there wasn’t an amazing, huge political event, following the referendum. We will all remember it. Every day you come up with something, but some days are better than others and sometimes it’s really a case of banging your head against the drawing board. But there isn’t a day that I don’t look forward to doing it.”


Times cartoonist Peter Brookes

But Brookes, from Liverpool, revealed that his job is not just about making people with a dark sense of humour laugh.

He described one of the most memorable pieces of his career as the cartoon he drew following the photo of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi, whose body was washed up in Turkey after his family attempted to flee their home last year.

“I drew the picture and added an EU-life ring being thrown at him,” said Brookes. “There were no words or captions, it was a symbol of the inactivity of the EU over immigration. It would have been very difficult to draw the thousands of immigrants at the time, so this was my way of encapsulating it. Not all cartoons are meant to rasie a laugh.”

Looking forward to the new year following his Christmas break, Brookes added that he was keen to get stuck into the continuing Brexit issue.

“I’m looking forward to getting to grips with Theresa May and the whole Brexit thing,” he said.

“That should keep me in work for a while.”

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issue statement on Malaysian authorities’ continuing persecution of cartoonist Zunar

December 29, 2016 in General


© Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque (aka Zunar)

The PCO received a request from Reporters Without Borders to publish their press release concerning the plight of Zunar. We are happy to publish it, unedited, in order to help draw attention to the continued harassment of this widely respected political cartoonist.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Malaysian authorities to drop all charges against Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, the cartoonist better known as Zunar, and to stop using the country’s Sedition Act to threaten and intimidate him and other journalists.
Zunar has been arrested twice in recent weeks and faces further police interrogation on 30 December. His latest arrest was on 17 December, when police raided a fundraising event he had organized in Kuala Lumpur to compensate for the losses resulting from the seizure of 20 of his cartoons in November.

The police seized more than 1,000 pounds in cash on 17 December. Zunar estimates his combined losses from the two seizures – the cash and the cartoons – at 20,000 dollars. He is well known for cartoons criticizing government corruption and abuse of authority.

During the 17 December raid, the police also arrested two of Zunar’s assistants and two people who had come to give him support. Zunar said there were all taken to a police station where a formal investigation was opened for violating article 124 of the penal code (endangering parliamentary democracy).

In an email sent to various organizations, Zunar said he was questioned for six hours and was then released on bail and told to report to the police again on 30 December for further questioning. According to Zunar, the police plan to ban all of his cartoon books.

Zunar was previously arrested under the Sedition Act on 25 November in the northern city of George Town, where he was forced to cancel an exhibition of his cartoons at a literary festival and 20 cartoons were seized.

“We call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all charges against this cartoonist and we urge the Malaysian authorities to stop using the Sedition Act to intimidate and threaten journalists,” RSF editor-in-chief Virginie Dangles said.

Zunar has been jailed twice under the Sedition Act, in September 2010 and February 2015, and was charged with another nine violations of the Sedition Act in April 2015 in connection with nine tweets critical of the government. According to his lawyer, he is facing up to 43 years in prison. Because of his cartoons, he has also been banned from leaving Malaysia since October.

Malaysia is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.


© Stephff

Stephff’s cartoon to support his colleague Zunar, who had broached in his drawings the topic of the 1MDB scandal, in which the Prime Minister Najib could be involved. Billions of dollars may have been diverted from 1 Malaysia Development Berhad’s investment fund (1MDB).

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Season’s greetings and very best wishes for 2017 from the PCO

December 24, 2016 in General


© Bill Stott (Chair)


© Steve Bright


© Terry Anderson



© Lawrence Goldsmith


© Guy Venables


© Rupert Besley


© Matt Buck


© Colin Whittock



© Matt Percival


© Noel Ford



© Jonesy


© Nathan Ariss


© Roger Penwill


© Mike Turner



© Clive Goddard


© Wilbur Dawbarn


© Ger Whyman


© The Surreal McCoy


© Royston Robertson


© Glenn Marshall


© Tim Ruscoe


© Pete Dredge

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CRNI statement on imprisoned Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart

December 5, 2016 in General



Musa Kart, the world-renowned political cartoonist for Cumhuriyet newspaper, Istanbul is one of several staff pending trial for “crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organisation and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”.

Accused of collusion in last summer’s attempted coup in Turkey, these journalists are just a few of the great many academics, public servants and media workers who have been fired, detained, questioned or jailed by the Erdoğan regime in recent weeks. Kart’s regular panel in the paper has been printed with a blank space since his arrest.


© Ralph Steadman

David Kaye, the UN’s special rapporteur visited Turkey in November and said: “Across the board, the Government is imposing draconian measures that limit freedom of expression […] the measures are not only drastic and disproportionate, but they lack any form of transparency.”

Today, in conjunction with Cartooning for Peace and Cartoon Movement and ahead of Human Rights Day at the end of this week, we make a statement on behalf of Musa Kart.

  • Cartoon Movement is the internet’s leading platform for high quality political cartoons and comics journalism with over 400 contributors across every continent.
  • Cartooning for Peace is a network of global cartoonists working to counteract extremism and prejudice, contextualise visual humour, explain its importance as social commentary, and confront ideology while respecting pluralism.
  • CRNI is the human rights organisation for cartoonist whose work leads to direct threats against their livelihood, liberty, life and limb. Each year they present a Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award and Musa Kart is a past recipient.

All three are committed to freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.

CRNI’s Executive Director, Dr Robert Russell, said:

“President Erdoğan has respondent to the recent so-called coup attempt by arresting hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen. People from all walks of life, high ranking governmental officials, the cream of the judiciary, intellectuals of all persuasions, journalists, simple common working people and anyone else he thought had negative opinions about him have been arrested. Some witnesses have said that the entire affair made him extremely happy, as now has an excuse to get rid of all of his enemies. There still may be as many as 100,000 people imprisoned.


© Bonil

One of them is our friend and client, Musa Kart, a prominent cartoonist with the Cumhuriyet newspaper. He and a number of other staff members still languish in prison.

We point out to the President that this whole affair demonstrates to the world how utterly paranoid he is, and the degree to which his own administration has deteriorated well into the failed regime category.

Cartoonists Rights Network International calls on the President to immediately release all innocent and improperly held prisoners, particularly journalists, and specifically our client Musa Kart. We ask that he be restored to his family and all charges against him and the rest of the Cumhuriyet staff be cleared.”

Cartoonist Musa Kart, interviewed by media before police questioning.

Cartoonist Musa Kart, interviewed by media before police questioning.

On the 31st of October the homes of a number of staff from Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest national daily newspaper, were raided and under emergency powers they were detained for questioning without legal representation for five days. On the 5th of November nine individuals were formally arrested and jailed pending trial for “committing crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organisation and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”.

This came amid a freezing of internet access and a wave of arrests across the country, all in an apparent effort to purge supporters of last summer’s attempted coup from Turkey’s mass media and opposition parties.

Organisations for the defence of freedom of expression and the liberty of journalists have already condemned the Cumhuriyet raid and arrests as brutal suppression of vital, critical voices in what purports to be a democratic nation.

We wish to draw special attention to Cumhuriyet cartoonist Musa Kart’s case in particular because this represents the third attempt by President Recep Erdoğan to silence him after suing for libel in 2005 and slander in 2014. On this occasion a punitive fine or jail sentence is not the worst possible outcome, as objectionable as it would be. If granted his stated ambition Erdoğan will reintroduce the death penalty specifically for those said to be involved in organising the coup. Clearly there is a real threat to Musa’s life should his trial proceed and he is found guilty of the charges given. We are witnessing an effort by the president to exact revenge on someone he has long considered an enemy.

It has been well reported that Erdoğan has taken an almost industrial approach in responding to personal offence over criticisms in the mass media. Where, we ask, is the magnanimity shown earlier this year when the many hundreds of so-called ‘insult cases’ he had instructed his government to pursue were dropped? On what basis can the drawing of satirical cartoons be considered a crime, much less an act of terrorism?

We call upon the leadership of every democratic nation to redouble their efforts in dissuading the Turkish government from its present course and demand the immediate release of our friend and colleague Musa Kart.

NB – at the time of writing Musa Kart and colleagues are in Silivri prison, Istanbul; family members have visited and say his health is good and spirit unbowed.


You can also view the statement here on the Cartoonists’ Rights Network International website.

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The female Arab cartoonists challenging authority

November 29, 2016 in General


© Doaa el-Adl

As part of its ‘100 Women’ season, the BBC asked three female cartoonists from Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco to illustrate how the practice of ‘male guardianship’, even though not always enshrined in law, continues to affect women’s lives.



© Doaa el-Adl

Tackling taboo issues like FGM and sexual harassment, Egyptian political cartoonist Doaa el-Adl frequently courts controversy and has even been accused of blasphemy. Tunisian cartoonist Nadia Khiari says “When I first started drawing, I did so anonymously and everyone assumed I was a man,” whereas Riham Elhour was the first ever female cartoonist to be published in the Moroccan press. Her birthday is on International Women’s Day, 8 March, and she says she was “born a feminist.”


© Nadia Khiari

As we have seen all too often recently, cartoonists are a persecuted species and it says a lot for the fortitude of these women that they continue to stand up to oppression in such dangerous times. They also have to deal with issues and attitudes that are difficult for Westerners to comprehend. Nadia Khiari, for example, was inspired to draw the cartoon above in response to controversial comments by a male Tunisian TV talk show host who was suspended from his job in October, after suggesting that a young girl who had been subject to years of sexual abuse by three male relatives should marry one of them when she became pregnant.


© Riham Elhour

Although many of Morocco’s male guardianship laws were overturned in reforms in 2004 and 2014, women still legally need their husband’s formal permission to leave the country if they want to take their children with them.

“Men can use this to control women’s lives,” Elhour says.

Riham Elhour is still the only female cartoonist at her newspaper but believes that through her art she will change the way women are seen in Morocco.

“I want my drawings to stir women to fight for their rights,” she says. “I don’t want them to moan about being the victim. I am a fighter. All women are fighters.”

ideo (produced by Dina Demrdash) here on the BBC website.


Thanks to Pete Dredge for drawing this to the Blog’s attention









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Support for imprisoned Musa Kart but attacks on cartoonists continue…

November 26, 2016 in General


Attendees at the British Cartoonists’ Association and Cartoon Museum awards, led by BCA Chairman and PCO member Martin Rowson, gave a standing ovation to demonstrate their support for Musa Kart, who faces jail for sedition. (See the Blog article from 2nd November for more on this story.) 

Mr Rowson stated it was “more important than ever to fight for the freedom to laugh in order to stop us all going mad in the face of events.”

He went on to pay tribute to the cartoonists murdered in the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, before telling the audience of cartoonists, politicians, journalists and cartoon fans how Musa Kart could face up to 43 years in prison – just for drawing cartoons.

Mr. Rowson then invited everyone to stand and applaud Mr Kart as an act of solidarity and support for “the twin freedoms of speech and laughter”, which they did with sustained vigour.


You can read about this event on the CRNI site here or this Morning Star article.

…meanwhile in Malaysia, cartoonist Zumar’s exhibition is targetted by pro-government protestors


Malaysian cartoonist Zunar Tweeted the CRNI to say his most recent exhibition in the Komtar Penang mall was disrupted by pro-government protestors. In an interview with Free Malaysia Today he confirms that he has cancelled the show outright.

Read more about this disturbing development here on the CRNI site.

Update: Zunar arrested

It appears the cartoonist has been arrested for sedition.

Further update: Zunar released on bail

We’re delighted to hear that following his ludicrous arrest the much persecuted cartoonist has been released.

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A triumvirate of talent

November 26, 2016 in General


© Sarah Boyce

The PCO is delighted to welcome three new members into the fold

The three in question are doubly talented individuals: Sarah Boyce is a printmaker and cartoonist, James Brandow a caricaturist and cartoonist, whilst Dave Walker is a cycling cartoonist which, funnily enough, is the subject of his upcoming book…


© James Brandow

For Sarah, cartooning started as a bit of fun but became completely absorbing. She had previously worked in advertising but after having children reverted to her first love, art and design, specialising in printmaking. Now Sarah combines her printmaking with drawing cartoons.

You can see more of Sarah’s work here.

Dave was an erstwhile member of the PCO but somehow managed to escape. (Let this be a warning to others: you can run but you’ll never escape our inky clutches…)

Anyway, we are pleased to welcome back such a talented artist. Dave is a freelance cartoonist and book illustrator for a wide variety of clients, and a number of books of his own work have been published, with the aforementioned ‘The Cycling Cartoonist’ about to join them.

Dave’s portfolio can be viewed here.

James, like Sarah, has a strong grounding in advertising with over 20 years experience creating visuals to be used as finished art, concepts, storyboards, layouts, character designs, animated gifs, cartoon portraits and animations. All this experience is brought to bear on his beautifully drawn caricatures and cartoons.

Take a look at James’ work here.



© Dave Walker