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Mike Luckovich among international panel discussing cartoon controversy

Atlanta Journal Constitution editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich was among eight international cartoonists that met on the campus of Emory University for a panel discussion entitled “Art of Controversy: Where to Draw the Line?” The panel included Palestine’s Baha Boukhari, Algeria’s Ali Dilem, New York’s Liza Donnelly, Turkey’s Piyale Madra, Israel’s Michel Kichka and Japan’s No-rio Yamanoi.

Some excerpt quotes:

According to Kichka, a cartoon has two lives, one created by the cartoonist and the other manifested through audience reactions. These two lives, he said, can take on very different characters.

Cartoons have the power to change the way people think about themselves and the culture they live in, Donnelly said. But to do so, she said, a cartoonist must make a point without allowing offensive images deter from the message.

Luckovich said, “I don’t mind being controversial, but I don’t like when the symbolism overpowers the message. We need to be strong in our opinions, but we have a responsibility to make points controversially without outraging people.”

Dilem, whose controversial cartoons have yielded him several jail sentences in Algeria, added that whatever the message, a cartoonist cannot attack a controversy half-heartedly.

“You draw to fill a void. And you have to feel the message,” he said.

The discussion was a part of a week-long focus on cartooning and controversy and also included a “Cartooning for Peace” exhibit that was first shown at the United Nations last month.

Community Comments

#1 Paul Hosler
November/18/2007
@ 11:04 am

How in the heck can you avoid all controversy? Some of my favorite cartoons occasionally upset my very odd sensibilities. Sometimes my own drawings are a little on the edge for me, but other people don’t seem to be bothered by them. Basically I like to think that other artists often shock themselves, and then are really shocked when someone likes the message. On the other hand I have drawn things, and I am sure others have too, that at least to me, were VERY funny, but somehow managed to tick someone off.

I want to be able to draw, and publish something, without having to figure out if it is going to make someone feel bad. Like I said, even some of my favorite strips can be offensive. Imagine if the artist had to clear his images and words with me before he/she published them, there might be some pretty funny stuff that people it doesn’t offend, would have to miss.

What’s next? Do we next not publish art because of the sexual orientation of the artist, their religious affiliation, their race, or their nationality, etc… I’m starting to feel like I could write a book, or at least a large pamphlet about this. At the very least I am beginning to fear that what I have written so far may cause riots somewhere in the world.

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