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Recognition for PCO duo’s efforts in support of Atena Farghadani

January 31, 2017 in General


© Steve Bright

Rupert Besley writes:

As is well known, the French take caricature and cartooning rather more seriously than we tend to here. Each year since the early 1990s, academics at the University of West Brittany, through EIRIS (l’Equipe Interdisciplinaire de Recherche sur l’Image Satirique), have published ‘Ridiculosa’, a weighty (300-plus pages) review carrying learned articles on the uses of caricature past and present.

This year’s volume contains a 23-page piece by Margarethe Potocki looking into the range of cartoons created in the wake of Atena Farghadani’s arrest in Iran. I’m pleased to report that this includes a page each on contributions from two PCO members, Steve Bright and, er, myself.

More importantly, having been sentenced to 12 years in prison, Atena was released last May after 18 months. But at considerable cost to herself. As this from Amnesty International makes clear.

The cartoonist should never have been imprisoned in the first place and was badly maltreated and abused. She had a virginity test forced upon her (shaking hands with her male lawyer was deemed a sexual act and further crime) and suffered a heart attack in consequence of hunger strike. Her release came with a 3-year suspended sentence, the Iranian regime’s way of silencing critics.

While Steve and I doubt whether our own drawings can have made any possible difference, the whole unhappy saga (Atena’s offence was to draw politicians as goats) must give anyone cause to think hard about any involvement with the state-sponsored Iranian House of Cartoon.


© Rupert Besley

Steve Bright writes:

Yes, it was great to hear of Atena’s release (even with strings), but she should obviously never have been imprisoned in the first place, and it’s a sobering reminder that some of the freedoms we all take for granted are, depending on your geography, very real dangers involving acts of tremendous courage. I hope and pray she never has to go through anything like that again in her lifetime, and that she can find a place to create meaningful art without fear.

Contributing to the campaign for her release through our own cartoons was, by comparison, a very easy decision and simple process. Small beer. As Rupert says, we’ll never know whether our drawings helped (it did cross my mind that they may even hinder, if the authorities dug their heels in against the protests from afar), but even if it only helped us, to know we’d done something to show support against this repugnant injustice, and others like it, then it was well worth the doing. Anything more than that would be a bonus.

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Andy Davey: ‘toons ‘n’ tunes

January 30, 2017 in General


© Andy Davey

The PCO member and political cartoonist par excellence sheds light on the dark arts of his particular craft whilst sharing some of his favourite music on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Sunday Supplement.

As you’d expect Andy proves an astute advocate for cartooning, helped enormously by a genuinely interested and intelligent interviewer, Nick Conrad.


© Andy Davey

His choice in music is pretty much on the mark too – Little Walter on daytime radio? Joy! – so do yourself a favour, set aside an hour of your time and spend it in the company of Andy Davey and Nick Conrad.

You can listen to the interview here but only for the next twenty eight days.


The man himself © Andy Davey


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PCO leaves FECO

January 25, 2017 in General


The reason for tendering our resignation:

After a great deal of thought by the PCO Committee and through consulting our members, PCO [UK] has decided to leave FECO forthwith.

This is a very sad decision, but has been brought about by FECO’s involvement with a Holocaust themed cartoon contest offered by the Iran House of Cartoon, known Holocaust deniers.

PCO cannot allow itself to be associated in any way with holocaust denial.

Perhaps, looking into the future, when FECO reorganises so that it is no longer associated in any way with holocaust denial PCO might apply to re-join.  In the meantime PCO intends to maintain good relations with individual cartoonists’ organisations such as France-Cartoon, formerly FECO France. But as of now we do not consider ourselves a member of FECO.

Sincerely, and with regret,

Bill Stott, Chair, PCO [UK]

For and on behalf of ;
The Surreal McCoy
Rupert Besley
Andrew Birch
Steve Jones
Jeremy Banx
Glenn Marshall

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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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by Jonesy

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.