JOURNALISTS IN PERIL

"Zen Pencils: Atena," by Gavin AT. (used by permission of the artist)
A panel from “Zen Pencils: Atena,” by Gavin AT. (used by permission of the artist)

IF ATENA FARGHADANI can convert flattened cups into a makeshift canvas while in prison, about the least that fellow illustrators can do is to offer our own canvasses to protest the absurd injustice that’s kept her in prison in the first place.

That’s why, earlier this week, Comic Riffs launched the #Draw4Atena campaign. It’s not just an act of support; it is also the art of support. Because Atena has just days to appeal her 12-year-plus sentence for lampooning Iranian leadership in cartoon form, and then speaking out about her mistreatment behind the bars of Tehran. And so now is especially the time to be heard, and seen.

[Iranian artist Atena Farghadani, who drew parliament as animals, sentenced to 12-plus years]


The cartoon that kicked off the #Draw4Atena campaign. (CAVNA’S CANVAS 2015)

Naturally, at least a few cartoonists drew Atena even before Comic Riffs kicked off this campaign. Others have taken up pen and brush in direct response to our Open Call to (Artful) Arms. And some, like “Zen Pencils” creator Gavin AT, were willing to add #Draw4Atena to comics they were working on.

“After reading Atena’s story, I was disgusted and appalled as anyone would be,” the “Zen” artist tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “At first, I didn’t think to draw a cartoon about it, but after reading her speech and the quote that I eventually used, it really made me want to do something.

“My whole website is, ‘Cartoon quotes from inspirational folks’, and you can’t get more inspirational than Atena.”

And so in Gav AT’s visual response, we see Atena taken away last August by members of the Revolutionary Guard, shortly after she posted on Facebook her illustration of members of parliament as monkeys and cows (mindlessly voting to curb birth control); we then see her jailed at Evin Prison, making art from the materials at hand, as creativity blooms even in captivity, the cell no match for the sense of self.

Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani. (photo via CRNI)
Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani. (photo via CRNI)

“I believe that if someone chooses art as their subject,” the comic says, directly quoting Atena, “but do not criticise the issues of their society, they have betrayed themselves, their conscience, and their society.”

Here is an ongoing roundup of cartoons — in support of Atena amid the #Draw4Atena campaign — that criticize the farcically unjust issue at hand:

Two panels from “ZEN PENCILS” (Gavin AT):


“Zen Pencils: Atena,” by Gavin AT (used by permission of the artist).

DAVID POPE (Canberra Times):

by DAVID POPE / Canberra Times (used by permission of the artist)
by DAVID POPE / Canberra Times (used by permission of the artist)

STEVE ARTLEY (ArtleyToons):


by STEVE ARTLEY (used by permission of the artist)

TOM TOMORROW (“This Modern World”):

by TOM TOMORROW (used by permission of the artist)
by TOM TOMORROW (used by permission of the artist)

JOE SUTLIFF:

by JOE SUTLIFF (used by permission of the artist)
by JOE SUTLIFF (used by permission of the artist)

MANA NEYESTANI:

TOM RACINE:

by TOM RACINE (used by permission of the artist)
by TOM RACINE (used by permission of the artist)

.

RUBEN BOLLING:

SHAHROKH HEIDARI: