After the earlier withdrawal by six authors from a presentation hosted by PEN America of its Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo, some new authors have stepped up to the plate – including Neil Gaiman and Art Spiegelman. The award itself will now be presented by French-Congolese author and Man Booker International Prize 2015 finalist Alain Mabanckou.
Gaiman himself sent an email to the New York Times, stating: “The Charlie Hebdo PEN award is for courage. The courage to work after the 2011 firebombing of the offices, the courage to put out their magazine in the face of murder. If we cannot applaud that, then we might as well go home…I’ll be proud to host a table on Tuesday night.” He also tweeted: “Article I agree with entirely http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/pen-has-every-right-to-honor-charlie-hebdo …. I’ll be hosting a table at the PEN event because it’s important.”
Gaiman also retweeted details of another related English PEN initiative, Draw The Line Here, “a collection of cartoons drawn in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015,” as well as a piece from The Economist on the whole Charlie Hebdo free speech issue.
Art Spiegelman, meanwhile, took part in demonstrations in New York after the initial Charlie Hebdo attacks, stating: “‘Cartoonists’ lives matter! Cartoonists’ lives matter!’ And this had to do specifically with that mandate to say the unsayable.”
I have one word for Art Spiegelman: BRAVO!!!!
This is the first time I have agreed with him. I loathe Maus Comics on principle. I view them as a woe-unto-those-who-call-evil-good-and good-evil slander on an animal, the cat, that has been doing the human race yoeman service for thousands of years. I have always said that if I were going to write a comic book about the Second World War, which depicted people as animals, I would depict the people of London, during the Blitz, as cats, valiently holding the line, on behalf of civilization, against the grey hoardes of Luftwaffe rats. Now I say “Bravo.”