US to KSA to Kids and Women’s rights. The Yemen cartoonist.

Sometimes an article doesn’t end up as it begins. I search for artists of Graphic Literature and am successful. But when I find them, sometimes I get a lesson beyond cool looking pictures and novels that I can see and interpret with very few words to get in the way of my imagination.

Take Maizin Shuja’a Al-Din of Yemen.

With the aim of entertaining and educating children, Shuja’a Al-Din publishes comics that discuss different issues including child labor, early marriage and education.

Newspaper publishers do not appreciate cartoonists in Yemen, Shuja’a Al-Din says. However, the lack of appreciation makes him “more determined to continue his work.”~yementimes.com

y-1There is also Arwa Moukbel, a young female cartoonist. Now that’s a rarity in Yemen. She likes to speak her mind but her family keeps her in check so as not to, I guess basically get herself imprisoned or worse. Not exactly a lot of freedoms there.

y-2

Rashad Al-Sameai is probably one of the most if not the most popular right now. The former psychology studies 30 something year old creates from his heart and writes about bad habits and things that speak to the people. I’m not exactly certain what his work says so I’m not going to display it here. One somewhat popular comics site actually erased the text from a cartoonist’s work  before putting it on their site, not Al-Sameai. But I would rather just not display it than alter it. If I can translate it at some point I’ll share it. But I do know he champions the rights of women and children.

Finally, Kamal Sharaf, actually spent a month in prison for, being forcibly removed from his home in 2010 after he challenged the then president Ali Abdullah Saleh. He still satires, and challenges. And even challenges the current president at times.

y-3I think a big part of what Yemen cartoonist have a problem with is how other countries like to stick their noses in and treat the country like it belongs to them. I get that. Depending on the government at the time, you could be taking your freedom into your own pen. Imprisonment, death threats, and basic fear for family are common thoughts each day as these cartoonist deliver messages in one panel that a whole news show or book can’t explain. And you know what? You’ll remember the images.That news show? Not a chance.

I plan to expand this one a lot more as I find more cartoonist, have more time, and translate what I find.

Much Respect

Ronovan

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Transformers and Nigel the Sheep? A link?

Wales. June 13, 1934. It’s time to Gren and bare it. Why? Grenfell Jones is born, that’s why. Don’t know who Grenfell Jones is? Don’t worry, probably most of us don’t here in the west. But in Wales, if you don’t know who he is you probably have hidden under a rock somewhere. Likely that rock has a sheep on it with words on its side saying, he’s under this rock. After a person moves the rock to get to you, the sheep would likely have the words “Stop strip mining” written on it.

Gren” is the legend of Welsh cartoonists. And no, I don’t mean comic books at the moment. This man put daily comic strips out in newspapers. As for the sheep, that was Nigel and then there was the strip Ponty an’ Pop. Although that may be his most famous strip he was also well known for his fanship of rugby. That also went into his strips and although he spoke about pretty much everything, he did so in a manner that wasn’t offensive.

He wrote about what he knew, as his friend John Philipin Jones suggested. That happened to be Rugby and life in the Welsh valleys. He created a town and that’s where Nigel and all lived.

If you were in a Gren cartoon you had made it.

gren-coaches1

gren-lollipop1

gren-eat-more

gren

I will mention a couple of comic book artists here as that is the focus of this series.

There is Anthony Williams, a 2000 AD workhorse penciler of sorts who is always there will called upon. Also he’s done work on Doctor Fate: Fate, Transformers, books with Spider-Man, Batman, and the X-Men movie adaptation.

fate-williamswilliams-transformers

Then there is David Roach, another 2000 AD guy. Judge Anderson, as well as Judge Dredd was some of his work before doing Batman and Demon for DC Comics and even Star Wars for Dark Horse Comics.

anderson-roach
Judge Anderson

roach-b-d

Then we have

That’s it for today.

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Venezuela-Cartoonists with Freedom? Great Talent, itty bitty freedom space.

I have to admit, Venezuela almost didn’t happen today. When I first began looking there wasn’t much I could go with in regards to comic books and very little easily found for comic strips are cartoons of any type. Language barrier again.

I tried Vancouver, Canada, knowing they published comics there. Again, difficulty. Rather than waste any further time, I got creative with Venzuela in researching, and here we go.

Hermann Mejia is an example of what one another artist I’ve featured, Whilce Portacio said, “enter contests”. Mejia did and was one of the winners. Born in Caracas in 1973, he entered a contest and ended up in New York and meeting painter, illustrator, and one of the contest judges George Pratt who took Mejia to the DC offices and instantly work was had on Mad magazine, published by DC.  You can find examples of art on the internet outside of his comic work, but looking at the samples below of comics work, you can see how wide his talent ranges.

But that was only the beginning. When you do the cover of  the first Annual of Neil Gaiman’s created The Books of Magic, you’ve made it. But Mejia is still MAD.

books-magic-annual-1-mejia

capam-mejiagame-mejia

 

One thing I’ve discovered by researching Venezuela is the artistic nature of the creators. Their work is not limited to one field, such as cartooning/comics/illustrating.

Jorge Blanco jumps out as perhaps an early influence on some. Yes, an comic strip artist but his actual art work has been on display not only in South America, as you would assume, but in the US and Japan.

As for why he’s here? El Naufrago (The Castaway). It was a wordless strip about a man trapped on a deserted island.

blanco

Let’s move on to Pedro León Zapata.

“In 2000 there was a confrontation with the Venezuelan leader, who publicly challenged Zapata about these cartoons, asking whether he had been bribed to publish them. Zapata answered the President with another question: “Mr. Chávez, did you accept money to refer to my cartoons, thus inducing so many people to rush out and buy the newspaper?”-samsoniaway.org Quote and art below from site.

zapata

 

“Serbian, we censor anything the newspapers say, if we continue to allow readers to think…”

This is representing Chavez party members as toads, a term for informants in Venezuela. Chavez died in 2013 with his VP becoming president and who is now under attack to resign.

Now for Rayma Suprani. Of them all, I respect this one the most. She’s the one I wish I could meet. She’s been at it for 20 years. She’s been mocked on a channel in Venezuela that refers to the cartoonists as racists and elitists. She complained to the government, as many others had before her for similar shows, but nothing was done. The  Venezuelan government is against any cartoonist against it. Example, El Universal, a paper Suprani worked for for 19 years fired her after pressure for the below cartoon. The paper had been recently bought by a little known group and the anti-government leanings had softened/changed. hours after the cartoon came out, her immediate boss called and said he did not like it and she was fired. You would think the boss would have seen it before it was printed.

firedThe cartoon shows the heartbeat of a healthy health care system. Then below it next to the late Hugo Chavez’s signature is a flat line heartbeat of the health care system he had put in place.

Death threats followed and a need for Amnesty International support. She hasn’t slowed down.

I have others to discuss, but I’ll leave it there. That’s the state of freedom of expression in Venezuela. I followed her on Twitter today. I may have to use Google Translate to understand but I do it. It’s worth it.

People complain about the United States. People hate it here and say they hate living here and they hate everything about it. Go to Venezuela and say that. We have cartoonist here that say every kind of thing against every part of government and still have their jobs and no death threats. For those who hate it here so much, be thankful you have the freedom to do so.

 

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