I've been sick in bed this week, and I don't regularly follow the news anyway - so I only learned about the Charlie Hebdo massacre on Thursday from my son. I searched online to try and understand what had happened. As an artist and an aspiring cartoonist - I took it a bit more personally than the usual horrors I see on the internet.
It's hard to put into words what is going through my head. I'm thinking of how these horrible terrorist attacks seem to backfire as the targeted groups get support and pull together to become even stronger. I'm thinking of how political cartoonists have always filled the role of the court fool. Even when others were being beheaded by the king, it was their job to always tell it as they saw it. It's the cartoonists' job to point out absurdities and inconsistencies so that we can see ourselves in a different light.
Humor - the ability to laugh at ourselves - is what makes life livable. With all the crazy things I have gone through in my own life, there have always ever been two choices:
You LaughorYou Cry
I choose to laugh. And just about anything can have a funny side to it. Maybe ironic-funny, but still something to make you think differently.
A long time ago (I was 12) - I woke up from an operation that had not gone as planned, to find I had lost so much blood (much of it down my throat -), that there was a transfusion in my foot, and I vomited blood for ages before I could even ask what had happened. So - lying there in the hospital, with tubes sticking out of everywhere, my face cut apart and swollen, surrounded by bowls of barfed blood... have I set the scene? ... A nurse walks in carrying a huge phlebotomy tray full of tubes and needles.
She says, "I'm going to need some blood."
I can't talk, but I hand her one of the barf bowls.
And then my mom and I start howling with laughter.
(Very, very painful laughter.)
Talk about sick humor!
Ah - - it's still funny to me now!
And someday, I will find a way to turn my experiences in the hospital, into a comic book. I've never wanted to be a political cartoonist, but I do want to chronicle life, and the Charlie Hebdo incident has only served to reinforce my desire to go to cartoon school.
Bored Panda had a fabulous post with cartoons drawn by 28 cartoonists to pay tribute to the victims. They are all fabulous images, but #18. "I am Charlie", made me cry.
This is the most un-political of the cartoons. We are all Charlie - especially THIS Charlie.
So what is my own personal, ironic humor that comes from this awfulness? In the past few months, since I started telling people about my plans to apply and attend the Center for Cartoon Studies, I have had a number of puzzled responses. "Why would you do that?" "What will you DO with that degree?" and the implied judgement that cartooning is frivolous and unnecessary.
But now... we see that cartoonists are among the most powerful and threatening forces on the planet! I expect to see the next generation rushing to go to art school rather than signing up for the armed forces, or medical school. Parents saying, with pride, "My son, the cartoonist!" And those who want to make a difference, but are too old or irregular to join the military anyway, you can do what I'm doing and go directly to cartoon school.