Arizona Daily Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons spent part of last week in Mexico City attending The Line of Fire international conference.
18 press cartoonists from 14 countries meet for several days at the Memoria y Tolerancia Museum in Mexico City to discuss the role of press cartoons as a detonator for reflection and dialogue in our societies. Many cartoonists, members of Cartooning for Peace, take part in these public debates.
The “La línea de fuego” event is also a time for exhibition since several exhibitions are offered to visitors.
Or, as Fitz tells it:
Attending a gathering of cartoonists in Mexico City last week, I found myself wading through a sea of 30 million people every morning as I made my way to the national museum, where our cartoons were exhibited and we discussed the future of cartooning, the decline of print journalism and the threats all journalists face in the line of fire.
But Fitz’s column is more about meeting fellow cartoonists from foreign lands than seminars.
I met Nadia Khiari, a famous Tunisian cartoonist who cheered on the Arab Spring with her equally famous feline character, Willis the Cat, nicknamed the “Cat of the Revolution.”
I met the most famous cartoonist in all of Latin America: Angel Boligan, the Cuban-born artist who draws for El Universal and resembles a cross between Leon Trotsky and Toulouse Lautrec.
Fitz met one cartoonist he will be able to reacquaint with later this month:
I met Pedro X. Molina, a Nicaraguan cartoonist famous for savaging President Daniel Ortega. The American Association of Editorial Cartoonists will be honoring Pedro with the 2018 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award in Sacramento, California, in a few weeks. Like third-graders, Pedro and I misbehaved in the back of the room during the panel discussions, swapping rude drawings and snickering, which is the sensible response to our present global insanity.
Fitz did see some familiar faces –
Monte Wolverton, Gary McCoy, Daryl Cagle, and expatriates Dan Piraro and Mike Keefe.
But it was not all fun and games:
My favorite cartoonists were two good-humored Jordanian brothers, Emad and Osama Hajjaj. The older brother, Emad, told us about the time he drew a cartoon of Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Much to his surprise, the king liked the caricature so much he invited Emad to accompany him on a diplomatic tour of the United States. “I met Steve Jobs!”
His younger brother’s cartoon story was very different. Osama got thrown into jail for a terrifying week because an irreverent cartoon he drew was deemed too irreverent. They both thought their contrast in fates were hilarious. Both talented artists have gotten Islamic State death threats.
The full versions of the above excerpts and more cartoonists and events can be found in
Fitz’s entirely entertaining and anecdotal-filled column.