This weekend saw the 2020 CXC Festival move ahead — online and virtual as with everything else this year — and the event acted as sort of a de facto gathering for the AAEC, which had to cancel their own convention back in May. AAEC President Kevin Siers made a pre-recorded appearance on Friday evening during the Kickoff Reception to present the John Locher Memorial Award, and a half-dozen member cartoonists did a panel on political cartoons on Saturday afternoon. Finally, cartoonists gathered in Zoom on Saturday evening for an AAEC Happy Hour/Awards Reception.
Above is a YouTube vid of the the Friday Kickoff livestream (the Locher Award presentation starts at the 16:00 mark), and here is a replay of the Saturday panel “May You Draw in Interesting Times: Political Cartooning in 2020.”
If you want to see what you missed —or watch some of the panels again— the live-streamed events are now available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrROs0Gf8AOEFMoCVeBirJQ
The 2020 AAEC Awards
The AAEC gives out three awards each year, and joins with the Cartoonists Rights Network International in presenting the Courage in Cartooning Award. Here are this year’s winners!
The AAEC/John Locher Memorial Award — Congrats to Catherine Gong! Catherine is a graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist based in San Francisco who says that, in her covert rebellion against prejudice, her weapon of choice is satire. The 2020 judges said: “Catherine’s work demonstrates a range of commentary from strong and poignant to precise and funny, all skillfully drawn with a unique voice.” Cartoonist Tom Coute was named runner-up, and Emeka Perkins-Johnson, Sam Nakahira and Edward Wilson were also cited for their notable submissions.
The annual Locher Award goes to a promising editorial cartoonist aged 18-25 and includes a trip to this yea— sorry, next year’s AAEC convention. To see the submissions and judge’s other comments, go to: https://locheraward.org/news/2020/9/6/announcing-the-2020-locher-award-winner-1
The Rex Babin Memorial Award Excellence in Local Cartooning — This year’s Babin Award goes to Rob Rogers for his Pittsburgh-centric weekly strip “Brewed on Grant.” Kentucky cartoonist Marc Murphy was named the finalist. Presented by Jack Ohman, JD Crowe, Kevin Kallaugher, the three judges had this to say about the winners:
“For decades, Rob Rogers has been a national leader in our profession, deftly satirizing not just national politicians, but also keeping a close watch on Pittsburgh politics and culture. He has been our AAEC president, and he is beloved for his manner and humor. He’s a courageous fighter for our profession, and at a critical moment stood up for his work and right to comment independently. His portfolio is a multi-panel strip called “Brewed on Grant,” and was a staple item in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and he continues to do it to this day (in the alt-weekly Current). Rob is a talented artist and concise writer, making multiple sly references throughout his cartoons he submitted to the judges.”
“Marc Murphy is a trenchant, sophisticated observer of Louisville and Kentucky, and his work appears regularly in the Louisville Courier Journal—when he’s not a practicing attorney and former elected official and activist. Marc’s cartoons are bold, simple, and powerful, and, more importantly, brave and thoughtful. His unadorned style speaks perfectly to power, and he is a true local leader for social justice and police reform in Louisville, as well as regularly skewering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He’s also an army veteran, and his son is a US Army Ranger. Marc believes in service, and he lives it each day in his fine cartoons.”
The AAEC Ink Bottle Award — The Ink Bottle Award is presented annually by the President of the AAEC “in recognition of dedicated service to the Association and distinguished efforts to promote the art of editorial cartooning.” This year’s recipients are Adam Zyglis, Ed Hall and JP Trostle, the trio of cartoonists who labored for several years to revamp the AAEC’s website, and update look of the 64-year-old professional organization for the 21st century. Here is President Kevin Siers presenting the award virtually (of course).
The Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award — And last but not least, the AAEC is proud to stand with the Cartoonists Rights Network International in its choice for the 2020 Courage in Cartooning Award, Ahmed Kabir Kishore. CRNI Director Terry Anderson had this to say in presenting the award:
“Ahmed is a cartoonist and activist known to CRNI for over a decade. He campaigned bravely on behalf of the disappeared Sri Lankan cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda and jailed Bangladeshi cartoonist Arifur Rahman and identified as a CRNI ‘affiliate leader’ in the country, although doing so inevitably made him a target for accusations of aligning with foreign interests. This speaks to his courage, as do his public demonstrations for the human rights not only of cartoonists but also Hijra people and in defense of health and consumer rights and the Bengali language.
“Through April and into May of this year Ahmed posted to Facebook a series of cartoons he entitled ‘Life in the Time of Corona,’ satirizing society’s response to, and critical of the government’s handling of public health during the pandemic.”
“On May 5, 2020, Ahmed was among several people arrested under the Digital Security Act by personnel from the Dhaka division of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB-3), the unit officially deployed against terrorists, drug lords and human traffickers but often accused of being an instrument of government suppression. Lawyers at the Ain-O-Shalish Kendra (ASK) legal aid organization have seen the charge sheet and tell us that Ahmed is alleged to have taken part in a ‘conspiracy, spreading rumors and misinformation against the prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her late father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.’ Ahmed is alleged to be an administrator on a Facebook page called ‘I am Bangladeshi,’ which is considered as the main subject of investigation by the authorities.
“In the ensuing months of detention Ahmed has been denied a bail hearing on three occasions and subjected to periods of what’s described as ‘jail gate interrogation,’ this despite the ongoing and imminent threat to prison populations posed by corona virus COVID-19 and the release of literally thousands of criminally prosecuted people from jail in Bangladesh for precisely that reason. Ahmed is an insulin-dependent diabetic, meaning he should be afforded some extra protection from infection.
“CRNI has petitioned the prime minister on Ahmed’s behalf along with ASK, Cartooning For Peace, Forum for Freedom of Expression, Bangladesh (FExB) and Reporters Without Borders. Our request for clemency has been ignored.
“The intent of the Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award is to recognize the plight of a cartoonist experiencing a human rights violation — and in our view that is precisely what has happened to Ahmed, several times over — as well as raise their profile in the hope that doing so will help bring about a favorable resolution. 2020 has been an extraordinarily, exceptionally bad year. We could have presented the ‘Robert Russell’ to European cartoonists whose censure was requested by Chinese diplomats, to a Jordanian cartoonist arrested for caricaturing the crown prince of the UAE, Brazilian cartoonists harassed by law enforcement, an Algerian cartoonist detained for ‘disrespecting’ the military or a Palestinian cartoonist subjected to mass internet trolling and death threats over a cartoon to which Saudi Arabians took offense.
“Circumstances have been so bad that we were forced to make an emergency statement in the spring, warning that lasting and potentially irreparable damage would be done to the global community of cartoonists in 2020, due in large part to the license the pandemic has granted to authoritarian regimes. Therefore Ahmed Kabir Kishore’s case is emblematic of the times in which we live; his freedom to express skepticism and dissent has been violated and that in itself would be sufficient to attract our attention, but for the last six months his life has been needlessly put at risk by detention in jail – universally recognized as an environment where corona virus is a higher risk – and despite his health condition – again, universally recognized as a contributing factor to illnesses such as COVID-19
“In presenting the Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award 2020 to Ahmed Kabir Kishore, we call for his immediate release, his total exoneration of all criminal charges and an independent investigation into his treatment while a detainee.”