Cartoonists and other staff were murdered at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on 7th January 2015. Twelve people died in the attack and eleven people were wounded, four seriously. The responses were immediate, identifying with the victims – Je suis Charlie – the demonstrations in Paris and a renewed determination not to be cowed by extremist ideas and extreme action.
One response, in the UK, was Draw the line Here, a collection of more than 100 cartoons by 66 cartoonists, drawn in response to the murders. It was curated by the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation committee. Funds were raised by CrowdShed crowdfunding. I’m proud to say I took a small part in the crowdfunding.
Dedicated to anyone, anywhere or at any time who has suffered persecution for the crime of expressing their thoughts and opinions.
I wish I could show you some of the cartoons, but I can’t. But better yet, you could buy a copy.
Predictably many of the cartoons utilise the black balaclava, the gun and its similarity in shape to the pen or pencil. Others draw on the absurdity of violence as a means of persuasion. Others simply restate a belief in freedom of expression. Yet others are concerned with the damage to Islam of the Paris attacks.
In the foreword, Libby Purves refers with admiration to the art of cartoonists:
How do these guys with pencils and weird imaginations suddenly relax your thoughtful news reading frown into a daft grin and make you snort aloud at the memory hours later? … The glory of the art is in its freedom, its courage, its willingness to dance lightfooted over dangerous ground. Not with malice or threat, but in the name of freedom, curiosity, and argument.
And as if to endorse these words, without malice or vengeance this was the Charlie Hebdo cover on 14th January 2015 …
You can buy a copy of Draw the Line Here (£14.72) from English Pen, the publisher, by clicking here. Funds raised from the sale of Draw the Line Here will be shared between the families of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity and English Pen’s Writers at Risk Programme.
And as you do, remember the importance of asserting freedom of expression. And remember the victims of those who believe that some things should not be thought or expressed in words or cartoons.
Draw the Line Here by Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, published by English PEN in June 2015. 90pp
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