News Syndicate

Turkish Cartoon Crackdown, Again and Again, and Now Worse

Most Americans don’t follow the news from Turkey, especially with our election looming next week. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been cracking down on opposition throughout Turkey in the wake of a failed coup attempt a few months back, with tens of thousands of alleged coup collaborators either jailed or fired from their jobs.musacartoon It seems that a failed coup is also a great excuse to get rid everyone Erdogan already didn’t like who weren’t involved with the coup as Erdogan has closed down virtually all of the media outlets that have been critical of him. The only opposition newspaper left, Cumhuriyet, was raided last week with their editors, their top writers and their editorial cartoonist thrown in jail.

To see that Erdogan’s purge extends well beyond those who were involved in the coup, look no farther then Musa Kart, the jailed editorial cartoonist for Cumhuriyet, who’s cartoons have enraged Erdogan for many years. Here’s an article from Cartoonists Rights Network (CRNI) about how Erdogan tried to put Musa in jail for nine years for the 2014 cartoon at the right that depicts corruption as a hologram of Erdogan looks away; the courts dismissed the case. Here’s an article from the Committee to Protect Journalists with a broader update on Erdogan’s recent press purges.

kartcat60Musa’s 2005 cartoon of Erdogan as a cat tangled in strings produced a similar battle with an offended Erdogan, who clearly has a thin skin when it comes to cartoons. Musa was sentenced to prison, his penalty was reduced to a fine, and the courts later dismissed the fine.

Cartoonists around the world have drawn cartoons supporting Musa when he was arrested before and a new pitch for cartoons is coming from my buddies at Cartooning for Peace (CFP). I’ve posted the column from CFP below along with one of the cartoons supporting Musa from India’s Paresh Nath.

Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart detained by police along with journalists from opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet
From Cartooning for Peace

On Monday 31th October several members of staff from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet have been detained by police following raids on their homes. These include editor in chief Murat Sabuncu, the paper’s lawyer and cartoonist Musa Kart.

His home was searched by police around 5am before he went to the police station for questioning, apparently with his lawyer. Musa is no stranger to harassment from the regime. In 2014, following the publication of one cartoon refering to a money laundering scandal involving many people close to Erdogan, cartoonist Musa Kart was facing a 9 years imprisonment. He was finally acquitted of the charges. As he left the building to surrender to police, Kart told reporters:

“How will they explain this to the world? I am being taken into custody for drawing cartoons.”

“I’ve been trying for years to turn what we’re living through in this country into cartoons. Now I feel like I’m living in one.”

On Tuesday 1st November hundreds of protestors camped overnight in protest at the Istanbul headquarters of Cumhuriyet – last symbol of the fight for freedom of speech in Turkey.

A statement from the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said those detained were suspected of “committing crimes” on behalf of the Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding the coup attempt in July.

The Turkish government has embarked upon a “purge without limits” according to Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders:

“Cumhuriyet is once again the target of persecution, another 15 media have been closed and there is hardly anyone left to cover this. (…) If Turkey does not stop using the state of emergency to kill off media freedom it will soon be too late. At this rate, media pluralism will be a distant memory before long. Are people sufficiently aware of the dramatic change taking place in this country, where no media outlet seems to be safe from this never-ending purge?”

This marks a new chapter in media and press persecution by the Turkish state. 170 media outlets had been shut down since the attempted coup and 105 journalists arrested. Authorities revoked the press accreditation of more than 700 journalists while thousands of journalists are unemployed.

Cartooning for Peace is starting a campaign to support cartoonists, journalists and freedom of speech in Turkey.

Cartoonists from all over the world, including members of Cartooning for Peace, are already sharing their drawings. See more of the cartoons in support of Musa here.


This one is by our own Paresh Nath of India. See more of Paresh’s cartoons here.





Blog Syndicate

Updated Oldies! Trump! Marijuana! Peace!

The problem with being a cartoonist who runs a little newspaper syndicate is that I have to actually run the little newspaper syndicate. I envy cartoonists who can work in their little cubicles, drawing cartoons all the time – as my life is sucked away with bookkeeping and administrative duties. Argh! On the other hand, by having a little business I’m safe from being laid off by a newspaper again. I’ve traded  having a boss for having dozens of cartoonists and freelancers depending on me to keep the business going. Again, argh!

So, I haven’t been drawing as many new cartoons as I would like during this busy political season. This week, while I was finishing up my belated business taxes, I dredged up a couple of oldies that seem fresh now. The first is a Muhammad cartoon-cartoon, updated to be a Trump cartoon that reflects the comments I get in my email box, from those “deplorables in a basket.” Here is what the cartoon originally looked like, at the right.

The second oldie this week is a repost of a California Marijuana oldie that I drew some years ago when California legalized medical marijuana. In November California votes on a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana, and the cartoon is suddenly fresh. What is old is new again.


In addition to the oldies, I drew a 10th birthday card for my friends at Cartooning for Peace. The big hands on star French cartoonist, Plantu’s dove logo, make me smile. That’s the Cartooning for Peace logo on the right, and my birthday card below. Happy birthday, Cartooning for Peace!





Blog Syndicate

Ugly Purge Lands a Turkish Cartoonist in Jail – Again

UPDATE Friday August 19, 2016: Dogan Guzel is released! Read about it in Spanish here, and the Google translation of the article here.

Two great cartooning organizations that I support, Cartooning for Peace and Cartoonists Rights Network International are spotlighting the arrest and imprisonment of Turkish cartoonist Dogan Güzel who was swept up in a mass arrest of journalists as he was visiting colleagues at the pro-Kurdish newspaper, Özgür Gündem in central Istanbul, which was raided and closed in the wake of the failed July 15th coup in Turkey. The Turkish police reportedly confiscated computers at the newspaper offices, which editors described as “looting” on Twitter.

Cartoonist Dogan Güzel being dragged off off to jail this week in a mass arrest at a small newspaper in Istanbul. He reportedly asked an attorney for a new shirt.

Dogan was convicted, sentenced to seventeen years in prison and spent a year and a half in jail for drawing cartoons critical of the regime in Turkey. He was given amnesty in 1999 and moved to Spain where he lived for more than ten years and was given political asylum; he is a Spanish citizen. He now lives in both Seville and Istanbul. Dogan is being held on the charge of “making propaganda for the Kurdish armed group PKK”.

The Özgür Gündem newspaper is small, with a circulation of only 6,700; it has been banned many times for its coverage of the Kurdish conflict, a continuing thorn in the side of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who seems to be using the coup as an opportunity jail all of his critics. Here is a nice report in Spanish. There is little or no coverage of this story in English.

Cartooning for Peace is soliciting cartoonists to draw on Dogan’s behalf. Cartoonists Rights Network International posted the report below.

Cartoonist Dogan Güzel was among the journalists arrested in the government raid on the Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem in Istanbul on Tuesday. Photos show the cartoonist in a torn shirt in police custody. In 1999, Dogan Güzel was the first recipient of CRNI’s Courage in Political Cartooning award. At that time, he had just spent a year in jail for “drawing a cartoon that called the state ‘weak,’ and for publishing his cartoons in the Kurdish language.” Cartoonists Rights joins Reporters Without Borders in condemning the closure of the newspaper and calls for the release of the journalists.

Message from CRNI founder Robert Russell
We have recently come to know that our friend and former Courage in Editorial Cartooning award winner, Dogan Güzel, has been rounded up in a raid on his newspaper in Turkey.
We call on the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quickly release our colleague Dogan Güzel, and all other journalists who are legally carrying out their professional duties in accordance with their constitutional rights. This kind of thing will happen in any country where the head of state is allowed to act as if they are more important than the constitution that they swore to protect. All of Turkey seems to be evolving into its own prison.
Robert Russell
Executive Director

Here is a sample of Dogan’s work. See more here.


Sketch Freedom in Sweden

My buddy Kianoush Ramezani is putting on a big editorial cartoon exhibition in Gothenburg, Sweden with many of the top editorial cartoonists from around the world. The show is being hosted with the Gothenburg Film Festival with the support of Le Memorial de Caen, the big D-Day Museum in Normandy, France that is a big supporter of editorial cartoonists and hosts a cartoon festival each year (I attended in 2012 and I was impressed).

Kianoush is an interesting guy. He is a political refugee who had to flee the regime in his native Iran which wanted to punish him for his cartoons; he was given asylum in France and lives in Paris. Kianoush’s exhibition, Sketch Freedom, is about freedom of expression. I know most of the cartoonists in the exhibition through Cartooning for Peace, and some are cartoonists.

See if you can spot these cartoonists’ mugs in the collage below: Angel Boligan, Damian Glez, Daryl Cagle (me), Kap (who also did the poster), Kianoush, Peter Broelman, Riber Hansson and Tjeerd Royaards. The second big head under mine in the collage is Liza Donnelly, a New Yorker Magazine cartoonist; I expect the size of our big heads will shrink as new cartoonists are added to the exhibition – although Kianoush would be the first to say that it would take more than that to deflate my big head.



Here’s the full list of artists in the show and poster:

  • Adjim Danngar – Chad 
  • Angel Boligan – Mexico 
  • Ann Telnaes – USA 
  • Assad Binakhahi – Iran
  • Ayako Saito – Japan 
  • Bernard Bouton – France
  • Cristina Sampaio – Portugal 
  • Damien Glez – Burkina Faso 
  • Daryl Cagle – USA
  • Elena Ospina – Colombia 
  • Eray Ozbek – Turkey 
  • Guy Badeaux – Canada 
  • Hassan Karimzadeh – Iran 
  • Jaume Capdevila – KAP – Spain 
  • Jim Morin – USA 
  • Kianoush Ramezani – Iran 
  • Liza Donnelly – USA
  • Mohammad Sabaaneh – Palestine
  • Peter Broelman – Australia 
  • Phil Umbdenstock – France 
  • Riber Hansson – Sweden 
  • Tjeerd Royaards – Netherlands 
  • Victor Bogorad – Russia 
  • Vladimir Kazanevsky – Ukraine 
  • Xavier Bonilla – BONIL – Ecuador
  • Zulkiflee Anwar Haque – Zunar – Malaysia 

Cartooning for Peace

PLANTU 2010 texte 6cfc6mug Cartooning for Peace cartoons

Le Monde’s editorial cartoonist, Jean Plantu, and his trademark mouse.

I’m a big supporter of French cartoonist Jean Plantu’s Cartooning for Peace organization. It sounds a little silly, because all of the cartoonists are in favor of peace, and the nature of cartoons seems to be frivolous, while peace is a serious topic.

That said, Cartooning for Peace does a lot of great stuff; they organize meetings of editorial cartoonists and hold impressive exhibitions all over the world. I’ve made a lot of worldly, cartoonist friends through Cartooning for Peace. Plantu is the star cartoonist of France – that’s him at the right, with his trademark mouse that appears in the corner of every Plantu cartoon.

One of Plantu’s recent projects is a weekly page in his newspaper, Le Monde, with cartoons from around the world about a topic in the news. Plantu does a great job with it, soliciting the newest cartoons from member cartoonists every week.  I have pasted some pages below.  They look great and show the power of editorial cartoons at their best.

We syndicate a bunch of international cartoonists to about 850 newspapers, and they tend to be less popular than our American cartoonists. Americans aren’t much interested in events outside of the United States, unless we’re at war or threaten to be at war with someone. Passionate cartoons about water issues or the European Union don’t generate much reader passion in the USA.

On the topics that penetrate our borders and generate interest here, collections of international cartoons are a wonderful way to show a variety of world opinions at a glance. My local newspaper, the Santa Barbara News-Press does an international week in review with world cartoonists regularly. I would urge more editors to consider doing it.

The page below is “Egypt: an explosive cocktail”. It includes the Adam and Eve cartoon by Doaa El Adl, that has led to her prosecution by Islamist authorities. I’d love to see newspapers all around the world reprint Doaa’s cartoon.

Egypt Cartooning for Peace cartoons

Gay marriage has recently been a hot topic in France.

GayMarriage Cartooning for Peace cartoons

Here is the most recent one, on International Womens Day.

IntlWomensDay Cartooning for Peace cartoons




My Interview with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat

While in Frace for this year’s Cartooning for Peace meeting, I had the honor of sitting down and chatting with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat. Ferzat was beaten and had both of his hands broken by government thugs in Damascus last August, as part of a brutal crackdown of the Syrian Uprising. The beating came as the subject of his cartoons changed from general ridicule of Syria’s much-maligned political system to specific caricatures of President Bashar Assad and his inner circle.

Ferzat has since recovered, and is now living in exile in Kuwait.  I spoke to him about the attack and his outlook on cartooning in countries with oppressive regimes, including Syria. It’s also worth noting that he seems to be no fan of President Obama…


Here are a handful of Ferzat’s cartoons. To view more, check out his Arab-language Web site or visit his Facebook page.


See the World Cartoonists in Caen This Weekend

I’m headed out to a big Cartooning for Peace meeting in Caen, Normandy, France. Cartoon fans in France are in luck, here are the highlights.

Cartooning for Peace On Sunday, April 15th there are general meetings and signing by the cartoonists in the Main Hall of the Memorial de Caen from 11:00am to 4:30pm. There are four impressive panels in the afternoon in Auditorium 296.

1:30pm-2:15pm, The Arab Spring with Dilem, Ferzat, Mykaia (from Tunis), Z, Bahgory and Elchicotriste.  Looks like this will be in Arabic with translation into French.

2:15pm-3:00pm, Daily Local and Opinion Press with Chaunu, Boligan, Kap, Jim Morin (of the Miami Herald, who used to be on our site), Vadot, Zapiro and Rousso.

3:00pm-3:45pm, Internet, New Risks. with me, Damien Glez (the cartoonist from Burkina Faso and a longtime contributor to our site), Kianoush (my exiled cartoonist buddy from Iran), Z, and Ali Ferzat, the famed cartoonist from Syria who was beaten and had his hands broken by Bashar Assad’s thugs. I’m very interested to meet Ali Ferzat who is a hero for standing up to the Assad regime.

3:45pm-4:30pm Cartooning for Peace, Myth or Reality, with Plantu, Damien Glez, Michel Kichka, Izel, Vadot and Dilem.