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Gagged Ungagged Talk

December 18, 2017 in General

Andy Davey writes:

I was honoured to be asked by those nice people at Procartoonists to “host” an evening of interviews and talks to accompany the “Gagged” exhibition of cartoons at Westminster Reference Library on the subject of the oppression, censorship and gagging of political cartoonists around the world. My experience of hosting is limited to the point of zero, so I therefore accepted with trepidation but nevertheless with complete admiration for the cartoonists who have suffered for their art and reportage. As it turned out on the evening, my admiration was justified and afterwards I felt very humbled by the experience.

Martin Rowson shows a blank slide of a cartoon censored by The Independent

The quality of the speakers was excellent. First up was the Guardian’s own superbly scatalogical Martin Rowson, giving us a short history of poo in print and advice on how to successfully offend just about anybody in power.

Cartoon by © Zunar

The evening then turned somewhat digital via Skype interviews and screenings of films of various cartoonists who fight their political systems despite hardship. A poignant dramatic intervention occurred here – we had booked the heroic Malaysian cartoonist Zunar to speak to us via video link but we could not establish connection. It was later revealed that his no-show was due to his arrest and confiscation of his phone and computer. He faces 43 years in jail because of his criticisms of the Malaysian PM but continues to draw because he feels that it is his duty to do so. Against this, it’s impossible not to feel absolutely humbled. The world needs obstinate, moral, courageous people like Zunar.

Cartoon by © Khalid Albaih

Our second cartoonist interviewee was no less impressive. Khalid Albaih, a cartoonist from Sudan (via Romania and the US) who now resides in Denmark in order to freely publish his political cartoons in a democratic environment. His cartoons (usually wordless) were used widely in Arab Spring demonstrations but he would not be able to publish such “seditious” work in those countries. Khalid was very eloquent and passionate about his need to draw political cartoons but has chosen not to associate himself with any media outlet for fear of being censored or corrupted. Consequently, he has a day job and draws at night.

Cartoonist Andy Davey with Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

This was followed by a rearguard action from the estimable Jodie Ginsberg from Index on Censorship, showing the visceral power of angry political cartoons from around the world and how they have been suppressed, sometimes brutally.

Video call with Robert Russell. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Lastly we were privileged to speak to Robert Russell, the founder of Cartoonists Rights Network International – a man who has probably done more than any to help and support dozens of imprisoned, harassed and endangered cartoonists around the world.

All of this must remind us of how lucky we are in western democracies. But it is useful to remember that, even in the UK, the conditions that allow satire to flourish are not fully met. Censorship exists in practical terms because of the severe bias of the traditional media.

The future of cartoons may well be that modelled by Khalid Albaih – radical, delivered via independent social platforms…but unpaid. And the message that emerged from the evening was that cartoons most certainly have a future. Each contributor underlined the importance of political cartoons, particularly in societies with a democratic deficit.

A film of the event will be available to view online in the new year.

The Round up

December 22, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

Kasia Kowalska writes:

The Winter Solstice is behind us and the traditional festive fun is in full swing.

Christmas season is upon us © Martin Honeysett @ procartoonists.org

© Martin Honeysett @ procartoonists.org

Also high on the agenda is freedom of speech after the London School of Economics apologised to two students who had been banned from wearing T-shirts featuring cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ.

Twitter was also accused of losing its sense of humour. The microblogging site ran into trouble when it removed tweeted cartoons by the Indian political cartoonist Manjul.

The truth Hits Everybody art by Daniel Clowes :: scanned from 20th Century Eightball :: Fantagraphics Books :: 2002 © procartoonists.org

The truth hits everybody. Art by Daniel Clowes from 20th Century Eightball by Fantagraphics Books 2002 @ Procartoonists.org

The Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf is likely to be crossed off Daniel Clowes’ Christmas card list following accusations that he plagiarised the Ghost World creator’s 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano in his short film HowardCantour.com. Removal of accreditation for cartoonists in this age of digital ubiquity is a not an uncommon experience as a similar story from Rachel Duke illustrates.

Moving from theft to sharing, the CEO of Bitstrips has rebuffed claims that the social-media platform is a flash in the pan. The self-generated storytelling programme was the second most downloaded app in the world during November. Stuart Dredge found out why.

Movie interactives mashups from the Guardian © procartoonists.org

Matt Blease drawing for the Movie Mashups interactive app at The Guardian website @ Procartoonists.org

We note, see above, that other sites are also following this new fad. (Yes, we are looking at you The Guardian).

Seventeen years ago this month one of the founders of Private Eye, Willie Rushton, died. Adam Sonin remembers him as “the greatest satirist of them all” and explains the origins of the eccentric radio game Mornington Crescent.

For all the culture vultures out there, desperate to avoid last-minute Christmas shopping, there is still a chance to see The Age of Glamour at the Cartoon Museum which ends on Christmas Eve. Also, Cartoons and Caricatures at the Bank of England finishes on 31 December and The National Theatre’s Lampoon exhibition will end on 5 January.

Trippin' through the rain @procartoonists.org

Trippin’ through the rain from Toddles’s Comic Almanac 1862 @ Procartoonists.org

If you would rather stay inside than brave the current weather, you can always entertain yourself by trying out different cartoon styles. Which is exactly what Mike Holmes did when he created 100 cartoons of himself and his cat.

A Merry Christmas to us all.

Updated: 24th December with the sad news that political image maker Leon Kuhn has died.

work_pay © Leon Kuhn @ procartoonists.org

© Leon Kuhn @ procartoonists.org