The past few tumultuous months elude simple description. Phrases such as ‘post-truth’, ‘alternative facts’ and ‘oh God, what’s he done now’ are now part and parcel of the news. The more melodramatic amongst us can be heard uttering notions of ‘Trumpaggeddon’.
The need for satire
In these baffling times, a purposefully distorted notion of political correctness has become public enemy number one. As a result of this, opinions that were previously, and for good reason, deemed unacceptable have attained legitimacy. Complex issues are overly simplified so as ‘not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasise the one right which it has set out to argue for.’ Despite comparisons between Trump and Hitler being derided as ‘liberal hysteria’ quotes such as this (not taken from one of Trump’s advisors but from Hitler’s Mein Kampf) undeniably mirror the current administration’s tactics.
Oversimplified issues allow for oversimplified answers (build the wall, ban all Muslims, etc.), a tactic again alluded to in Mein Kampf. However, in reality, many of the issues currently being discussed in mainstream politics and media are so complex it’s hard for sensible, well-informed people to form their own opinions. As a result of this, more moderate and considered voices are lacking. Sadly, this leaves a vacuum of commentary which is filled with the loud, biased, frothing-at-the-mouth rhetoric often adopted by those with extremist viewpoints allowing divisive and discriminatory forms of thinking to gain support.
The competition longlist
So, in an attempt to add our voice to those who respect and promote equality and empathy for all, we decided to turn to one of the oldest weapons in the face of such adversity: satire. Well-executed cartoons can undermine and deconstruct their targets, through visually acerbic concepts they can encourage viewers to share a unique insight into a situation. As Ben Nicholson, the famous British painter, said “satire is fascinating stuff. It’s deadly serious, and when politics begin to break down, there is a drift towards satire, because it’s the only thing that makes any sense.” So we decided to hold a competition to select a 1215.today cartoonist, sending the word out across Facebook and Twitter with the help of networks such as The Cartoon Movement, The Cartoon Museum and Global Cartoons.
Our competition received an excellent number of responses, with over 60 applicants from various countries, including Syria, Jordan, Cuba, Holland, Indonesia and the United States. Amongst our entrants we had Mika Azizi, the cartoonist for the Indian Online Daily, The Citizen; Alexa Coe, an illustrator/artist whose Instagram is filled with beautiful line drawings, certainly worth checking out; and the artist Quentin Devine, who’s worked on an array of weird and wonderful projects using everything from brazil nuts to Pokemon cards as his medium. Here are some of our favourite cartoons picked from the first round of applicants:
Tjeerd Royaards, Netherlands
The competition shortlist
Following on from this, we shortlisted the strongest candidates based on their cover letters, past experience and submitted works. This left us with an eclectic and exciting array of artists. Amongst them was Thea Sousa Machado, who runs a widely read, punchy weekly webcomic with her husband Sam. Sam’s recent cartoon (pictured below) depicting Lady Justice standing up for Lady Liberty evoked an amazing reaction on social media, catapulting the work into the viral-sharing stratosphere.
Tjeerd Rooyards, an internationally published cartoonist who has been featured by CNN, the Guardian and Le Monde (to name but a few), was also amongst the finalists. Tjeerd is the Editor-in-Chief of the brilliant Cartoon Movement, a global platform for editorial cartoons and comic journalism; it was the Cartoon Movement’s help in promoting the competition that helped garner such an international response. The multi-talented Antonia Clarke, both an acclaimed actress and the artist behind ‘The Awkward Frogs’ (which has a large and dedicated Instagram following) was also in the running for the final position.
The final decision
To help us make the final difficult decision we decided to set our shortlisted candidates a task ‘to create a cartoon (rough draft only) which deals with Trump’s much-criticised use of social media and its implications nationally and internationally.’ Here are some of our favourite responses:
As you can see, our shortlisted candidates were as strong as they were diverse. To aid us in our decision making we managed to enrol the renowned author and cartoonist Stephen Appleby, who has a regular strip with the Guardian. Stephen’s well-trained critical eye helped to align our final decisions.
It gives us great pleasure to announce that, on the merit of her past body of work, her satirical edge and her affinity with younger audiences, we have decided to appoint Alice Skinner as our resident cartoonist. Alice’s final piece can be seen below. We can’t wait to bring Alice’s creative flair into the project.