“TYRANTS OFTEN don’t get the jokes, but their people do. So when the iron fist comes down, it often comes down on cartoonists.”
So writes Matt Wuerker, Politico’s newly minted Pulitzer winner, in the new Time magazine, in paying tribute to fellow cartoonist Ali Ferzat, the heroic Syrian activist who was abducted and brutally beaten last summer after drawing work critical of his nation’s regime.
Ferzat is included in the Time’s just-published list of 100 Most Influential People for 2012 — a roster that ranges from athletes (such as Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin) to actors (like Viola Davis), educators (Salman Khan) to artists (Christian Marclay) to powerfully rising pols (Marco Rubio). Previous cartoonists to crack the list include Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, who in 2010 were recognized for their popular webcomic “Penny Arcade.”
Ferzat’s abduction and beating last August — including damage to his hands, at least one of which was broken — had a ripple effect worldwide, stirred a groundswell of support among those in the comics community and prompted the condemnation of the U.S. State Department.
“In the end, the joke is on the regime,” writes Wuerker, the AAEC president-elect. “It thought it could silence Ferzat and break his will by breaking his hands. Instead it created a powerful symbol who draws cartoons the whole world is now reading. Talk about a great punch line.”
[ALI FERZAT GALLERY: 8 Eye-Catching Cartoons]
[CARTOONISTS RESPOND: How artists reacted to Ferzat’s beating]