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Government Mistakes Cartoonist’s Paycheck For Terrorist Funds

Reporter David Axe and artist Tim Hamilton send word that a payment for their comic, “Army Of God,” which I edited this year for Cartoon Movement, has been flagged by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The graphic novel is being published next year by PublicAffairs and Hamilton says his book advance has been seized by the government. You see, the title of the book is the name of a terrorist organization.

“Hamilton’s money was seized early in December, 2012 when his agent attempted to wire the advance payment for the extra chapters that the artist illustrated for the graphic collection,” a press release sent out by the Axe and Hamilton states. Hamilton’s agent (who, full disclosure, is also my agent) called the bank and found the Federal Reserve wire fraud unit was holding it under suspicion of laundering money for terrorism. That could mean Joseph Kony’s cult-like militia the book is titled after, or, quite possibly, the fanatical anti-abortion group in America who has bombed abortion clinics. “The Federal banking authority, who monitor every wire: foreign and domestic, apparently seized the funds due to the title of the book,” they say. As of now the money has not been released, despite attempts made by Hamilton and his agent, who are currently working with lawyers to figure it out.

OFAC hasn’t responded to my request for comment yet, but their answering machine urged me to visit the U.S. Treasury’s website. Comics wouldn’t be a great way to fund terrorism. They don’t pay very well. But now we know no one fighting terrorism knows how to use Google, which sure makes me feel safe.

UPDATE: The money has been released to Hamilton. More here.

New Folsom Prison Blues

Check out this new comic on Cartoon Movement by Angela Watercutter and Wendy MacNaughton, who reported on the prison’s struggling arts program. There are no cameras allowed inside, but they didn’t say anything about sketchbooks.

My Future With Cartoon Movement

I’ve been with Cartoon Movement since it launched two years ago and am extremely proud of the comics journalism I’ve edited in that time. I’ve always felt good about being able to pay artists well – multiple book projects are in the works from the people we’ve published there.

Times being what they are, funding is always and issue, and comics don’t make themselves. The three projects I posted about Wednesday are all that is in the pipeline right now as far as comics journalism goes. I hope there will be more, but the future is uncertain.

Right now, we have a few grants pending. Tjeerd Royaards and the founders of the site have always been good at getting us the money needed to keep the site going. Either way, I’m committed to getting the work we have into a printed anthology and have been shopping it around to interested parties. But as of this month, what was essentially a half-time job as well as my primary income source for two years has ceased.

That’s where I’m at headed into this Kickstarter next week.

Down In Smoke

Cross-posted at Cartoon Movement

Oakland, California. Ground zero for a medical marijuana fight between states and the federal government that has only been heating up. Graphic journalist Susie Cagle surveys the impact of recent DEA raids in Down In Smoke, her third piece for Cartoon Movement. Incorporating real audio from activists, Cagle portrays what “feels like class war” as local growers, patients and city officials fight against losing their jobs, medicine, and tax revenue.

Californians voted to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder stated early on they would not target legitimate businesses. But they’ve since reversed course and declared war on dispensaries, a huge tax base for the debt-ridden state. “It’s an issue that highlights the divides in America’s culture and its politics,” Cagle writes, “as a government based 3,000 miles away attempts to override state law and the people’s mandate.”

Jessica Colotl: Eye Of The Storm

Comics journalism and social justice meet in “Jessica Colotl: Eye Of The Storm“, published today at Cartoon Movement in a partnership with the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Jessica Colotl is an undocumented immigrant who was brought to America as a child – and now faces deportation. Reporter Ryan Schill and artist Greg Scott bring to life the story that has become a flash point for America’s immigration debate. The comic is available in both English and Spanish.


The London Olympics by Tom Humberstone

Ever since it was selected as host city seven years ago, London has been preparing for the Olympic Games. But amidst the promise of profit and prestige, less desirable spin-offs have affected Londoners along the way. When rents started to skyrocket in the East of London, comic journalist Tom Humberstone decided to investigate. “I was fairly sure it had a lot to do with the Games but I wanted to find out more.”

In “The London Olympics,” the British comic artist Tom Humberstone takes a critical look at what went into “cleaning up” for the game; from evictions, increased police actions, to heightened surveillance.

Summer Reading

Cross-posted at Cartoon Movement

Monday’s comic by Luke Radl was only the opening salvo in a month of material we’ve got lined up for July. So if you are looking for good reads this Summer, we’ve got you on the comics journalism front.

First up is the next installment of Army Of God by David Axe and Tim Hamilton, running on Monday the 9th. This chapter tells the story of Patricia and her harrowing abduction by, and rescue from, the LRA. When her father was shot on the spot, Patricia and her brother were taken to a camp where children are forced to kill and girls become “wives” of soldiers. It’s a powerful chapter where we see the true depravity of Kony’s army through the eyes of a child who survived it.

On July 18th we’re running a collaborative project between Cartoon Movement and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Coming off the heels of Obama’s announcement on immigration policy, reporter Ryan Schill and artist Greg Scott tell the story of Jessica Colotl, an undocumented immigrant and college student who was arrested for driving without a license and faces deportation.

Two Cartoon Movement reporters will also be returning this month with new stories. On July 30th, Susie Cagle will examine the federal vs. states rights battle around medical marijuana taking place in America, centered on Oakland, where Feds have recently raided a dispensary and the nation’s first pot trade school.

The Olympics begin in London at the end of this month and as we’ve seen in previous host cities, there are many winners and losers when it comes to a production this size. Just before the Olympics start, on July 25th, Tom Humberstone takes a look at the increased commercialization, police actions, and surveillance as London “cleans up” for the games.

Army of God, Part 5

Online over at Cartoon Movement.

Tibet’s Sacrifice: Exiled Lives

Today on Cartoon Movement we publish “Tibet’s Sacrifice: Exiled Lives”  by Dan Carino, a multimedia piece of comics journalism examining Tibetan  activists living in India and their willingness to die for their cause  through self-immolation.

In New Delhi, India, Carino interviewed activist Shibayan Raha, who was arrested in 2007 for attempting to self-immolate, and visited the refugee settlement Majnu Ka Tilla to see why so many Tibetans seem willing to die for their homeland.

“The fact is that self-immolation now transcends Tibet and protesting monks,” Carino says.  “Everyday exiled citizens in the diaspora feel so anguished and frustrated with the Chinese process that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause. Meanwhile, Tibetan settlements serve to truly support the welfare of Tibetans born in India and preserve their culture.”

Tibet’s Sacrifice” blends numerous multimedia aspects, including navigation, an audio/visual slide slow, and outside links to supplemental material. You can use the multimedia navigation with the latest Chrome, Safari or Firefox browser. Otherwise, you’ll be presented with the comic as a static page.

Army Of God, Part 4

Cross-posted at Cartoon Movement

Today we publish the fourth installment of Army Of God by David Axe and Tim Hamilton. This chapter examines the history of the infamous leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, who has long evaded capture. Over the last year, Kony has virtually become a household name and efforts to arrest him have been ramping up. Just yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Ugandan forces had captured one of his top commanders.

If you aren’t caught up on Army Of God, check out previous chapters on our project page.

McMillan wins the RFK Award

Cross-posted at Cartoon Movement

Stephanie McMillan has been awarded the prestigious RFK Journalism Award for editorial cartooning, which is given for work focusing on “human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action.” McMillan is a regular contributor to Cartoon Movement and her RFK entry included both her Code Green editorial cartoons and “The Beginning of the American Fall” piece she did for us in November.

“I’m gratified to have my work recognized specifically as a contribution to social justice,” McMillan tells us. “The reasons I draw cartoons are to expose the fundamentally unjust nature of the global capitalist/imperialist system, and to encourage resistance to it. I consider my cartoon work to be complementary to building actual organized resistance. Artists who care about social justice should be involved in the struggle for it, and dedicate their work in its service.”


A review of Guy DeLisle’s Jerusalem by S.I. Rosenbaum at Cartoon Movement.

In Pyongyang, witnessing a terrifyingly cheerful concert of girl accordionists, Delisle imagines the grim trajectories of their lives; he writes that he feels like weeping. Here, no such compassion is evident, and its apparent lack — even when a Palestinian babysitter tearfully tells him that her house is to be bulldozed by the Israeli government — is conspicuous. In North Korea, as an observer, Delisle was blinkered by his government handlers. Here, he’s choosing to look away. Given a chance to witness the Israeli bombing of Gaza with some journalists, he feels squeamish ( a series of fumetti show him envisioning the experience being scary) and he decides to skip it.