As I've written and spoken about a bit too much, last week I was a named a Finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning, but the Pulitzer Prize Board declined to name a winner in that category.
In the U.S., editorial/political/topical/satirical cartoonists get very little respect in the journalism world that’s supposed to support us. But for some reason, the world over, these cartoonists are on the front lines of threats, censorship, prosecution, and even murder, for their work. From the cartoonists killed for the Mohammed cartoons, to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, to jailed and/or tortured cartoonists in Turkey, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Egypt, etc., etc.
Maybe that’s because what cartoonists do is vital, popular, and effective.
American mainstream journalism dismisses cartoons, firing cartoonists for financial and political reasons, and repeatedly marginalizing their contribution. Yet cartoons always are among the most popular, best-read features on any outlet that runs them, and somehow effective enough to draw the targeted ire and even violence of authoritarians and extremists.
The refusal of an awards judging board, representing the behemoths of American mainstream journalism, to name a winner in the 100-year-old cartooning category, and thus (in my view) insulting the cartooning art form and profession, is a silly, meaningless imbroglio, and what should be called a First World Problem.
But I thought I’d turn it around in some tiny, personal way and announce a contest benefiting Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), which "Defends Political Cartoonists on the Front Lines of Free Speech" around the world.
Most recently, they’re defending Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s been jailed, released, and is now under investigation by police again. And Bangladeshi cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, jailed for ten months, during which he was beaten and tortured.
And Egyptian cartoonist Ashraf Hamdi, who was arrested in January for “spreading false information and misusing social networks,” andhasn't been seen or heard from since.
If you join me in making a contribution, of any amount, to CRNI and send the screenshot of the receipt to me at [email protected] with the subject “CRNI DONATION” by 6/25/21 11:59pm ET, you’ll be entered in a random drawing for a free Tom the Dancing Bug: Into the Trumpverse (2020) book.