Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, a contributor to the Cartoon Movement comics journalism site, was arrested by Israeli authorities on Saturday and is being held without access to a lawyer, a situation that could continue indefinitely. The Cartoon Movement blog has been tracking the story as well as the reaction by international organizations.
Saba’aneh is a political cartoonist for Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official newspaper of the Palestinian National Authority, the governing body for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and his cartoons comment on the political and human rights situation of the region, often criticizing the Israeli detention of Palestinians. He also works in the public relations department of the Arab American University. He visited the United States in 2010 as a participant in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
On Thursday, an Israeli military court extended Saba’aneh’s detention for nine days, and further extensions are possible. According to the International Council for Human Rights, “The Israeli security forces refuse to disclose any details on Mohammed Sabaana’s whereabouts and further deny to grant access to his lawyer or his family members. He is also at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment.”
There’s comics journalism, then there’s comic journalism. There’s a growing number of individuals who are using comics to do journalism, and they’re increasingly being noticed by the journalism community at large. New York-based cartoonist Josh Neufeld has been on that trail for years with A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge and The Influencing Machine, and now he’s received a rare recognition with the offering of a Knight-Wallace Fellowship.
The Knight-Wallace Fellowships is offered by the Universe of Michigan to, as their website states, “exceptional journalists from the U.S. and abroad to share this life-changing experience.” The fellowship is a offer for a full academic year of sabbatical studies at the University’s campus, with twice-weekly seminars and other educational opportunities. As a bonus, Neufeld and the other fellows will make two extended international tours to Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Istanbul.
“My study plan is to extensively research Bahrain’s Pearl Revolution, which I did a short piece about for Cartoon Movement,” Neufeld said in an e-mail. “I plan on taking courses in the history of the Persian Gulf, Islam (specifically the Sunni-Shia divide), and the language and culture of the region. The ultimate goal is to produce a long-form comics-format book on the topic.”
Neufeld’s piece in Cartoon Movement, “Bahrain: Lines In Ink, Lines In The Sand,” was nominated for an Eisner and was later translated into both Persian and Italian. Neufeld is the first comics journalist to be offered this fellowship, and the second comics journalist to receive any sort of American journalism fellowship.
Cartoon Movement has been knocking it out of the park lately with short comic about topical issues — it’s the home of the Occupy Sketchbooks and a number of other thought-provoking pieces of journalism done in the comics medium. Now Josh Neufeld has a new comic up there, Bahrain: Lines in Ink, Lines in the Sand, that tells the story of the recent unrest in Bahrain from the point of view of two cartoonists.
Neufeld starts out with his own visit to Bahrain, which struck him as a peaceful and progressive country. “I didn’t sense any underlying tensions,” he says, but the very next page shows how much he missed. What began as peaceful demonstrations against the government quickly turned ugly as long-buried resentments came to the surface. There had been rifts, chiefly between the Sunni and Shia, that Neufeld had not seen on his trip (which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State).
Neufeld resists the temptation to boil this down to a simple tale. The two cartoonists he met on his trip have very different perspectives on the unrest, and he allows both to tell their stories, even including their cartoons in his comic. The result is a sad tale of how a country that seemed stable and peaceful could fracture along political and religious lines — and of the consequences that has for its people.
Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]
Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]
Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]
Susie Cagle’s What Every Woman Should Know is a good example of how sequential art can mimic a documentary film. Cagle herself went to a First Resort clinic, a “crisis pregnancy center” that provides no medical care, just encouragement to go ahead and have the baby. She brings in big-picture statistics about contraception and abortion rates and interviews with representatives of First Resort and Planned Parenthood to provide a surprisingly complete story in just 18 pages.
The comic has a point of view, but Cagle doesn’t go over the top. She actually makes the point that First Resort does have its place, providing support for women who decide to go ahead with their pregnancies. At the same time, she takes issue with their deceptive practices, advertising themselves as more than they really are and giving women misinformation about their choices.
While I’m a fan of Darryl Cunningham’s non-fiction science comics, often they end up being text boxes with pictures. Cagle takes a more flexible approach, composing each page differently and offering information in different ways. I think this comic shows how powerful sequential storytelling can be—simply reading an article about the First Resort clinic wouldn’t have had the same impact.
Cagle’s comic is hosted at Cartoon Movement, which has become an interesting hub for editorial cartoons and journalistic comics. It’s a site well worth bookmarking.