Thursday, January 7, 2016

The International Day of the Cartoonist 2016

One year ago today, on January 7, 2015, five cartoonists were murdered in Paris in the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. They were Wolinski, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous, and Charb--respectively, George David Wolinski (1934-2015), Jean Cabut (1938-2015), Philippe Honoré (1941-2015), Bernard Verlhac (1957-2015), and Stéphane Charbonnier (1967-2015). Their murderers were Islamists, and we must never forget that, but they were also part of a larger force that has always been with us. That force is the drive that makes people want to control the lives of other people--a force that will never die but which must always be resisted.

Last year on this date, I proposed that January 7 be named and forever observed as the International Day of the Cartoonist. Right now, I'm the only one to observe it I think. I hope that others will join in, but even if they don't, I'll continue observing it and continue remembering those who have died or who have been imprisoned, tortured, arrested, oppressed, or denied their rights simply for their art.

Recently, the death of another cartoonist was confirmed. Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan was arrested by the Syrian regime on October 2, 2012, at the offices of the newspaper Al-Fida in Hama, Syria. Raslan was held, apparently incommunicado, in a Syrian jail. He may have been tortured. His death was confirmed late last year as having taken place in the spring of 2013.

Born in Souran, Syria, in 1978, Akram Raslan drew more than 300 cartoons in support of the revolt against the rule of Bashir al-Assad. In 2013, in absentia, he was given the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning by the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI). Indiana cartoonist Joel Pett said at the time: "CRNI gives Akram Raslan our annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning in recognition of his extraordinary courage in confronting the forces of violence with cartoons that told only the truth." By the time of the award ceremony, which took place on June 29, 2013, Akram Raslan had very likely died as a result of his being jailed.

You can read more about Akram Raslan and other cartoonists at the website of the Cartoonists Rights Network International at the following URL:

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Indiana has long given its men and women into service to their country. They of course have included artists, illustrators, and cartoonists. Most returned to civilian life. I know of only one to have died on active duty. His name was Asa Henderson King, and he was born on May 12, 1880, in Boone County, Indiana. His parents were William H. King (1833-1928) and Susannah Jane (Mendenhall) King (1844-1882). Asa was the youngest of their four children and was only two years old when his mother died.

In 1897, Asa Henderson King moved to Clinton County. I know only that he was an artist and cartoonist. On May 4, 1915, three days before the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in New York City. From there he was sent to Fort Jay, New York, for training, then assigned to Company F of the 29th Infantry Regiment. That same year, the 29th Infantry was dispatched to Panama to guard the Panama Canal. The unit returned to the United States in September 1918. Evidently King remained in Panama, for that was where he died, at Camp Gailliard, on June 6, 1919. The cause was heart trouble. Private Asa Henderson King was buried at Corozal American Cemetery in Corozal, Panama. His name is inscribed on the Clinton County War Memorial in Frankfort, Indiana.

Hoosier cartoonist Asa Henderson King (1880-1919). The photograph is from the website Find A Grave.

Text copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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