Recently I was asked by my alma mater to participate in a panel discussion regarding the many threats to free speech at the hands of terrorism. We are all acquainted with the brutal and troubling ways in which this threat has played out in recent months. The panel happens April 6 at The College of William & Mary, so if you’re in the area, feel free to stop by and say hello. The alumni magazine thought it would be great to do a cover story on the same topic, and it made sense that I’d illustrate it.
In terms of imagery, there are few things that have been done to death as frequently as the “pen as weapon of free speech” has. Pen vs. gun: the symbolism is natural and obvious, but it seems to me like every working cartoonist drew their own similar version of it in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. My colleagues at the New Yorker offered their takes on the issue as well. Some of the images cartoonists created were brilliant and some were legitimately moving, but I intentionally avoided participating because I felt like I was struggling to come up with anything new on the issue. So this was personally a challenging assignment.
The first bunch of ideas I came up with felt a little too contrived, too gauche, especially since magazine covers are not usually the territory for overwrought editorial concepts.
The cover idea that the editors picked was chosen not necessarily for it’s poignance or cleverness (because it’s not to be found there), but merely because click here to read the rest of this post