South African cartoonist Zapiro is famous for his sharply observant cartooning and also for standing up to constant and onerous political pressures because of his observations. Most famously he was sued by the Prime Minister of South Africa for defamation—but as this profile at PEN.org shows, he’s always been at the center of controversy reserved for those who tell the truth.
Freedom of expression in South Africa is currently under attack on multiple fronts. This cartoon refers to an earlier piece in which President Jacob Zuma and his allies prepare to rape Lady Justice. (In 2006, Zuma was charged and acquitted for rape.) He would later sue Zapiro for R7 million for the Lady Justice cartoon.
It’s an important reminder of the cartoonists on the political frontlines around the world who have a lot more at stake than just drawing fictional heroes — some of them are real heroes.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.