UPDATED: Charlie Hebdo attack shows importance of making fun of authority, says Star scribbler


By Kelly-Ann Woodward

Being a satirical cartoonist has become a dangerous profession alongside being a journalist, according to a leading cartoonist.

James Whitworth, a daily cartoonist from the Sheffield Star, told students at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week just how dangerous being an artist can be. There have been many circumstances where this has become apparent.

The terrorism attack on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 was primarily because of the controversial satirical content that was published about Mohammed.

James said: “Being a cartoonist becomes a dangerous profession when you are offending someone. Figures in authority hate cartoonists for this reason.”

The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo was a moment that was sad and unfunny – like any terrorist attack is – but being a daily cartoonist means that you have to draw a satirical cartoon on events like these.

James states this as a great problem with being a cartoonist, especially a daily one.

A pocket cartoon, a funny, satirical cartoon, was drawn by James on these events and he believed the best way to do this was to change his approach and make fun of the terrorists.

“If you’re going to worry about who you’re going to offend, you won’t get anything done,” James said to the aspiring journalists. He told the audience about how cartoons can work even with heart-breaking events.

One cartoon that James had drawn for the Sheffield Star was of the infamous picture of the Syrian boy being carried away on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum after drowning.

Underneath the cartoon it read – ‘The weight of migration – around 19 kilograms.’ James said to a deadly silent audience: “Even when the news is bad, cartoons still work.”

While there is devastating news there are also frequent topics that come up for James to do cartoons on. Examples of these are Freshers Week at Sheffield universities and also about the many cuts from the government.

James’s original cartoons are always for sale and ironically he says, “The nastier you are, the more money they will offer for the originals.”


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