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The Round-up

September 22, 2013 in General, Links, News

Above: the exiled Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat talks to the BBC about taking on a dictator’s regime with pen and ink.

Art Spiegelman, the acclaimed cartoonist behind Maus, Raw and the Garbage Pail Kids, is interviewed for NPR as he publishes a new retrospective collection. Listen to him here.

In November, Tate will publish a new book on comic art by one of the leading experts on the subject, Paul Gravett. Read more about the book here.

Following the fatal shootings earlier this month at the Washington Navy Yard, Ted Rall is critical of the responses from US political cartoonists.

Yet more evidence emerges that comics make children more successful academically. If further proof were needed, here’s another chance to see a team of Procartoonists take on TV’s Eggheads. This 2009 show  was recently posted  on You Tube, though we’re told that, all things being well, it will be repeated on BBC Two on 6 December.

Human rights in cartoon form

September 16, 2013 in News

Know Your Rights. Cartoon © Ali Ferzat @

Amnesty's Know your Rights booklet. Cover cartoon © Ali Ferzat @

Amnesty International has come up with a memorable way to remind people about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: it has issued the document as a booklet illustrated with cartoons.

Know your Rights is published in conjuction with Waterstones and features 14 cartoonists, including the members Tony Husband, Fran Orford and Royston Robertson, illustrating various articles of the Declaration.

© cartoon Tony Husband

Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude © Tony Husband @

The booklet features an introduction by the writer A.L. Kennedy and includes thoughts on human rights from the cartoonists themselves. Michael Heath accompanies his cartoon with a succint thought: “It’s nice to be able to draw anything you want without being arrested.”

The cover is by the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who was beaten up because he drew cartoons critical of the Assad regime.

Publication marks the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified 60 years ago this month. The booklet contains the full text of the Declaration.

© Royston Robertson cartoon

Article 27. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community © Royston Robertson @

The other cartoonists in the booklet are: Steven Appleby, Liza Donnelly, Merrily Harpur, Neil Kerber, Martha Richler (Marf), Chris Riddell, Gerald Scarfe, David Shrigley [Does this mean he’s officially a cartoonist now? – Ed] and Judith Vanistendael.

Know your Rights can be found by the tills in branches of Waterstones nationwide, priced £2.

Free will and cartooning

October 30, 2012 in Comment, General

Bill Stott avatarAn opinion piece by Bill Stott

Free will and cartooning: is this a no-brainer? Or will I realise hitherto unseen and earth-shattering truths whilst typing? A eureka moment like finally figuring out what the symbol on your car’s dashboard resembling a tap-dancing flukeworm represents.

In some countries, drawing cartoons, usually political ones, which laud the state and lampoon the running dogs of whatever the state doesn’t much like (this will inevitably involve Obama’s ears) is a pretty safe bet.

Veer towards graphic criticism of the home side though, and you’re in deep doo-doo. Persist in veering and big blokes appear in the night and break your hands. No free will there then.

Bill Stott cartoon

Cartoon © Bill Stott @

And the hand-breakers don’t just practice their painful ways within the borders of their own country either. They internationalise their state’s repression by blowing you up in the comfort of your own home (given half a chance) thousands of miles away because you disrespected their religion, which IS their state. This is a fairly effective way of severely curtailing the free will of say, a cartoonist in Berkhamstead who comes up with a goodie involving Mohammed and brainwashed bombers.

Of course, we in the developed, civilised world, when not busy invading places a long way away, of which we know little, or selling them arms so that the pro-USA side wins, luxuriate in free will – cartooning and otherwise.

It tends to be the political cartoonists who come to mind if we think about free will, and they do a great job, pushing it to the wire in some eyes, especially if those eyes belong to somebody with broken hands in Longwayawayistan.

Thing is, ours is an old country. Our government rolls with the blows, safe in the knowledge that having the doughty Steve Bell draw you as a shiny condom probably won’t force a general election. And yet that resilience, confidence and apparent belief in the freedom of the press – excepting naughty phone-hacking types – is probably not underpinned by a simple, ingrained sense of fair play.

No, it is maintained by a secret service – a very necessary part of our free world, we are told (often by the secret service), who spook about the place causing things to happen, like one of their own turning up inexplicably dead in a gym bag and now conveniently forgotten by the free press. I don’t recall seeing too many cartoons about that.

The Round-up

April 27, 2012 in General, News

Ali Ferzat

Ali Ferzat © Time magazine

Ali Ferzat, the Syrian cartoonist brutally beaten by members of the Assad regime, has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. See the magazine’s reasoning here, and read more about Ferzat in a previous post.

Popeye returns to comics in a new series this month, and the first issue features a variant cover by the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer, which you can see here. Comic Book Resources gives it a positive review and asks for more.

Forbidden Planet last week highlighted the remarkable similarities between the poster design for an upcoming Brit flick and a piece of cover art from 2000AD. The film’s production company has since indicated on Twitter that it has recalled the image, but you can still compare the lookalikes here.

Rosie Brooks, “professional doodler” and Procartoonists member, has won a nine-day trip to Cuba. Increase your sense of envy by reading this.

While not specifically about cartooning, a well thought out piece from the Online Journalism Blog underlines the point that creative people are being routinely pressured into working for free, and that this can harm the industry they work in, as well as their own pockets. Read it here.

by Royston

The art of revolution

March 27, 2012 in Events, General

Ali Ferzat cartoon

The Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who hit the headlines last year when he was beaten up by security police over cartoons that were critical of the Assad regime, has an exhibition at the Mica Gallery, Sloane Square, London, this week.

He told the BBC: “The uprising has redefined art in Syria. It’s exposed the gulf between real artists and mercenaries in the pay of the state. Most – many of them my colleagues – have failed that test. It’s changed what Syrians see as art.”

Read the full interview here.

Cartoon © Ali Ferzat