Cartoons are incredibly powerful tools for critiquing and bringing to light societal and political problems, and satirical cartoons in particular have a special role in revealing injustices and hypocrisies. For this reason, cartoonists are often at the front lines of freedom of expression, and consequently, some face fierce persecution by governments and religious groups that retaliate rather than defend artists’ right to free speech.
Most readers are aware of the violence perpetrated against cartoonists and publishers after the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper (2005) and the cartoons published by the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo (2012). But violence and discrimination against cartoonists does not come only from Muslims who take offence; numerous other cartoonists around the world face harassment, criminalization, censorship, litigation, and physical or verbal violence because of their political cartoons. Currently in Bangladesh, for example, the political cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore has been in prison since May 2020 and denied bail, after he released a series of cartoons entitled “Life in the Time of Corona,” in which he satirized society’s response to the pandemic and the government’s handling of the crisis.
For this special issue, we asked the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), a strong defender of cartoonists’ right to free speech, to share cartoons focusing on the theme of racism.
- Cathy Wilcox is the daily cartoonist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Melbourne where she resides. She is president of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association and has illustrated a number of popular books for children and parents.
- David Fitzsimmons is a cartoonist and opinion columnist for The Arizona Daily Star and one of the most popular contributors to the CagleCartoons syndicate. He often performs as a comedian and compere in and around Tucson, AZ.
- Gianluca Costantini aka Channel Draw is Italy’s most well-known cartoonist journalist whose work has been used by a large number of news platforms and international human rights organisations. Most recently he began contributing to WikiTribune.
- Khalid Albaih aka Khartoon! is a Sudanese cartoonist, activist and journalist who currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark. His work has gained international attention several times over as key images went viral, perhaps most memorably a cartoon of the racial inequality protests led by NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
- Marlene Pohle is an Argentinian cartoonist based in Funes. She is currently Vice-President General of FECO, the international federation of cartoonists’ organisations. For many years she lived in Germany and became a popular contributor at the various European cartoon festivals.
- Musa Kart was for more than two decades the daily cartoonist at Cumhuriyet newspaper, Istanbul, Turkey. His work has been recognised with awards from many organisations including CRNI and Cartooning For Peace Swiss Foundation. Sued multiple times by President Erdoğan’s government, he retired from cartooning after a period in prison and on trial 2016 through ’19.
- Pedro X Molina is a regular contributor to the Confidencial news platform, Niacargua and the Counterpoint cartoon newsletter, USA. He fled his home in Nicaragua in 2018 and today teaches at Ithaca College, NY. Molina is a recipient of CRNI’s Courage in Cartooning Award and the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for journalism.
- Sabir Nazar is the contributing cartoonist at the Express Tribune and The Friday Times, Lahore, Pakistan. He is president of the Pakistan Union of Cartoonists. A talented multidisciplinary artist, Nazar also produces exquisite watercolour portraits and landscapes.
- Terry Anderson is Executive Director of Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) and a past president of the Scottish Artists Union. When not campaigning he still finds time to produce cartoons himself which can be seen on the Cartoon Movement platform. He lives near Glasgow, Scotland.