The 13th Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning for 2013


The 13th Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning for 2013
Salt Lake City, Utah


This year's Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning was presented at a ceremony at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah USA on June 29, 2013

Dr. Robert "Bro" Russell and his wife Hemamalie arrived in Salt Lake City to attend the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists on June 26. Every year the CRNI award is coordinated with the AAEC convention.

As has happened more than once recently, the award winner could not be present to accept in person. In fact, we have never spoken with the cartoonist nor do we have any direct connection with him or his family. Our Board's decision to give Akram Raslan this year's award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning has been based solely on reports from other nongovernmental organizations.

According to these sources cartoonist Akram Raslan is still in prison somewhere in Syria. Apparently, he had been due to go to court on June 3 of this year to answer charges of sedition and insulting the integrity of the state of Syria. We know little about his present whereabouts or his condition.

Some of the notables of the convention were the dean of American cartoonists Pat Oliphantand writer and editor Victor Saul Navasky, past publisher of The Nation and currently professor and chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review. Other notables included Utah Sen. Bob Bennett and Joe Wos, the curator of the Toonseum in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Alan Gardner creator and publisher of The Daily Cartoonist gave a presentation and Todd Zuniga, founding editor of Opium Magazine and cofounder of the Literary Death Match. He turned the literary death match into the cartoon death match for one of the sessions venued at a bar in Salt Lake City. No one was killed but neither were there any prisoners.

As part of the run-up to the convention, and in order to inform the public in Salt Lake City of CRNI's award ceremony Bro sent an Op Ed piece the Salt Lake Tribune which was published in its Friday, June 28, 2013 edition. Titled "Political Cartoonists Paying a Heavy Price", the piece briefed the public on the plight of Akram Raslan and so many other cartoonists in trouble. 

During the three days of the convention Bro and Hemamalie were able to meet very briefly would Pat Oliphant reminding him that he has been a CRNI Board of Director member, and how much we appreciate him lending his credibility and his name to our mission. Bro also had a meeting with Victor Navasky who was a panelist, talking about the pressures and influences from religious sources on cartooning. He was also there to discuss his new book, the Art of Controversy. Victor had referred to Cartoonists Rights Network International twice in his book. The book presents a recent history of cartoonists who have had their pens stilled by either violence or legal attacks by those religious, political and social elements who abhor free speech.

Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley was this year's host for the AAEC convention, and current AAEC president Matt Wuerker of politico.com was a cohost for the Saturday evening Cartoons and Cocktails Gala.

This year the AAEC organizers finished the convention with a Gala dinner and cartoon auction in the ballroom of the little America hotel. Attended by about 150 guests, one of Pat Bagley's cartoons was auction for a neat $3000. The proceeds of both a live and the silent auction will go to the AAEC's charitable wing to help carry out the AAEC's social programs.

At the same time the Locher award was given to the best cartoonists working for a college newspaper. This year's winner was Kara Yasui, a student at UCLA. She is the first woman to win the Locher award.

The AAEC Ink Bottle award was presented to R.C. Harvey. R.C. is a contributor to the Oxford University press and in 1994 his book the Art of the Funnies was published by the Universal Press of Mississippi. RC Harvey has been a friend to the AAEC for generations, advising a succession of AAEC leaders. The Ink Bottle award is given to the person who has contributed the most to cartooning in the United States during that year. CRNI's Dir. Robert Russell was last year's winner, having collected his award at the AAEC's annual convention in Washington DC.

During the Gala, Bro Russell was invited to come to the front of the hall and present our annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning. Because Akram Raslan could not be present, bro asked the convention host Pat Bagley to accept award on his behalf. You can read Bro' s comments below.

While time and circumstances do not allow for a long presentation, one thank you that Bro made was to the Doha Center for Media Freedom which contributed generously to this year's award ceremony. As well the Herb Block Foundation also contributed as they usually do to this year's award ceremony.

Bro also thanked Rob Rogers, this year's Thomas Nast award winner, for contributing his award money to CRNI.

Arizona Republic cartoonist Steve Benson with Pat Oliphant


Bro Russell with cartoonist emeritus and CRNI Board member Pat Oliphant

Bro Russell with Victor S. Navasky, author of The Art of Controversy

Signe Willkinson of the Philadelphia Daily News

Some of Akram Raslan's cartoons

Some of Akram Raslan's cartoons

Our presentation at the CRNI award ceremony

During Pat Oliphant's drawing demonstration Bro was able to come up and say hello.The group took a field trip to the Natural History Museum of Utah, where Arizona Republic cartoonist Steve Breen gave a drawing demonstration to group of children.

There is some wild goings-on at the Cartoonist Death Match organized by Todd Zuniga at the Tavernacle Piano Bar in downtown Salt Lake. Signe Wilkinson, Lalo, Steve Benson, and Ted Rall all competed for first place in the kind of cartoon shoot out.

If you have enjoyed reading our articles about cartoonists in danger, if our stories aided your research, we ask you to please consider a donation to CRNI. We want to continue to bring to the world’s attention the plight of these fine cartoonists and the stories their fight for free speech everywhere in the world.  
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