The Review: Cartoons for Peace/Dessins pour la Paix

November 17, 2008

This is the review I’ve been promising since the middle of last week. I’ll only excuse my tardiness by saying that after a week of speaking franglais amongst the multi-lingual cartoonists, I’m a little short on english grammar, and had to wait a couple of days for my brain to settle down to one or the other language!

I’ll admit that I went along because of my prior experiences with the Alliance Française, my first academic love and favourite discipline, and secondly because a good friend who is also a cartoonist had talked the event up. As he has never recommended a graphic novel I didn’t like, I took him at his word.

I turned out for the first event, expecting to meet charming frenchmen (I was not wrong), but I was not expecting to find my political leanings (my second academic love, and my current activist practice) to be so effectively seduced; sometimes without even a word in any language, as these great talents showed their images on overhead transparencies. How the humble OHP was used to mighty ends that night!

Over the days that followed, panel by panel the personalities of these wildly varying artists emerged, to my amusement, and sometimes, to my shock; an electric frisson of recognition, as an issue that I have read, sang, protested or ranted about, was clearly elucidated by a few elegant lines of a pen-stroke.

Less is more was clearly demonstrated by Caro, Michel Kichka, Alan Moir, Plantu, Nicholas Vadot, Lat, Wiaz, Izel Rozental, Andrzej Krause, Ali Dilem, Jim Morin, Willem and No-Rio, with occasional forays by our locals, Garrick Tremain, Tom Scott, Malcolm Evans and Guy Body, at varying intervals throughout the presentations. I struggled to keep my composure at times, as very grim or challenging images addressed the serious problems war creates for the citizens of war-torn countries; this was balanced by the moments when, in the words of Nicholas Vadot, the cartoonists showed that “deep down inside we’re all just naughty boys with a shocking sense of humour”, as he exhibited yet another risqué scribble (‘oh, yes, these never got published’, he murmured).

Generously, my sketchbook was signed and doodled in by these clever visitors; but the memories that linger in my mind are far stronger than the lines of black ink on the page, or my series of digital pix attempting to capture some coherent record of what I was referring to in my notes.

So, now comes the plug: for those of you who missed seeing these exceptional artists during their brief NZ visit, try some of these options;

Cathy Wilcox, regular at the Sydney Morning Herald
Jim Morin, from the Miami Herald
Alan Moir, also at the Sydney Morning Herald,
Garrick Tremain, from the Otago Daily Times, cartoonists seek peace not just pen
Tom Scott, the resident at the Dominion Post in Wellington, dominionpost
Malcolm Evans, famously sacked by the NZ Herald (I so like this man!)
Guy Body, current incumbent at the NZ Herald,
Grant Buist, in Capital Times, weekly, jitterati

And for my french-speaking friends:
Jean Plantureaux, dit Plantu,
Pierre Wiazemsky, dit Wiaz,
Nicholas Vadot, dit Vadot, (ok, this one lets you choose english or french versions – ‘cos he’s bilingual, and lives in Aussie!)
Caroline Rutz, dit Caro,
Michel Kichka, (although that’s in english, too)
Ali Dilem, ali-dilem-a-controversial-cartoonist and I can’t resist,
Izel Rozental,
Bernard Willem Holtrop, dit Willem, willem_expo.htm
Norio Yamanoi, dit No-rio, yamanoi
Kim Song Heng, dit Heng, heng.pdf
Mohd Nor bin Khalid, dit Lat, lat.pdf


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