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Offensive Weapon?

March 16, 2020 in Events, General

Glenn Marshall writes:

Procartoonists recently hosted a panel discussion labelled ‘OFFENSIVE WEAPON?’ at the North London Story Festival. The talk centred around the issue of cartoons causing offence and where to draw the line. I was joined by Carol Isaacs AKA The Surreal McCoy and The Guardian’s Martin Rowson.

I opened with a brief look at the history of cartoons causing offence, including this one by Richard Newton in 1798, of John Bull farting in the face of George III – oh how we love a fart gag! Newton had his first cartoon published when he was 13 and went on to be supported by the radical publisher William Holland, producing further attacks not only on the Royals and Napoleon but also the slave trade. His short but prolific career ended when he died of typhus aged just 21.

This cartoon by James Gillray of the then Duke of York could’ve been a recent cartoon about the current Duke of York – it’s regularly pastiched. It was deemed acceptable when drawn 1792, but when it was included in a collection of Gillray’s work in the more puritanical Victorian era – around the 1840s – the books were impounded by the police for being obscene. It was only deemed suitable for the public at large in 2009!

Martin mainly talked about his own experience with offence. The cartoon above from the Guardian was his response to the 2017 van attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque, a comment on how some of the print media can incite hate.

Paul Dacre’s Daily Mail went apoplectic with a front page banner raging ‘Fake news, the fascist left and the REAL purveyors of hate’ and went on to an outraged ‘comment’ page. Clearly Martin was doing something right!

Bernard Verlhac (Tignous), Georges Wolinski; Jean Cabut, (Cabu), Stephane Charbonnier (Charb) Jean Cabut (Cabu).

Martin also talked about the Charlie Hebdo attack, paying tribute to the 12 people murdered including the four cartoonists above.

Carol, who is the PCO’s committee member for overseas, discussed issues around the globe of cartoonists who have been persecuted and censored. This covered many of the people we have campaigned for, along with our friends from Cartoonists’ Rights Network International

This is one of many great drawings Carol showed by the Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat who has had a long history of being attacked and censored by the current regime for his work. He now operates out of Kuwait.

This topical cartoon by Niels Bo Bojesen from Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-posten published in January caused the Chinese embassy in Denmark to demand an apology.

Following our talk, we were fortunate that the next speaker cancelled, as we ran into a prolonged and lively Q&A.

Our travelling GAGGED exhibition on suppression and censorship of cartoonists sound the globe also had an outing over the festival.

Thanks  to the festival organiser from Middlesex University for inviting us along.

The Wolf of Baghdad released

February 27, 2020 in Events, General, News

I’ve just wolfed down in one sitting the wonderful, recently published ‘The Wolf of Baghdad’ by PCO’s Carol Isaacs, AKA The Surreal McCoy, published by Myriad Edition. It follows the story of Carol’s family roots and the everyday life of the Jewish community in Baghdad, where a quarter of the city’s population were Jewish up until the little-known vicious pogram of 1941. Within a decade nearly all 150,000 had been murdered or exiled.

All illustrations © The Surreal MCoy

The wolf in the title originates from the Baghdadi Jews belief that the wolf protects them from harmful demons.

I love the illustrations of the ghostly characters and buildings and the limited, muted colour palette that evolves to segment different parts of the story. The wonderful, clean line drawing reminded me of Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’.
Although the novel is wordless it is punctuated by really insightful testimonies.

There is also a superb, evocative soundtrack which Carol performs on along with the band ‘3yin’ which is great to listen to while reading the book for the complete Surround-O-Vison experience!

Some quotes about the book:

The book has some great reviews including this from UK comic shop Page 45. This from The Jewish Cronicle and one from The Morning Star.

Carol and 3yin playing live with visuals from the motion comic at The Phoenix cinema in East Finchley last November.

The Surreal McCoy has recently been talking about the book at the  Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters in Kerala, India and has visited New York for a premier screening of the DVD at The New York Sephardic Film Festival 2020. There are also some shows coming up including Carol and 3yin playing live with moving visuals from the book at JW3 in London on 5th March. Recommended for a unique experience.

The book can be purchased direct from Myriad Edition

For updates on the project follow The Wolf of Baghdad blog.

The Wolf of Baghdad – a memoir of a lost homeland

November 16, 2018 in Events, General

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

The Wolf Of Baghdad, an audio-visual project created by PCO member The Surreal McCoy, is based on her Iraqi-Jewish family’s memories of their lost homeland. A short preview can be seen here. 

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

Drawn digitally the memoir will be presented as a motion comic – a semi-animated slideshow on a big screen. Essentially wordless it will have musical accompaniment by new Judeo-Arabic ensemble 3yin and will be performed over two nights at London’s JW3 venue on 21st and 22nd November 2018. Booking link here.

3yin are Daniel Jonas, multi-instrumentalist and vocals; Keith Clouston, oud; Sass Hoory, percussion; Carol Isaacs, accordion; Shirley Smart, cello. Repertoire is taken from the music the Jews of Iraq would have been familiar with, both secular and sacred. 

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

Read more about the project and hear an interview with the creator here

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

The Surreal McCoy’s blog about the project can be found here