A Pen of Damascus Steel

Ali Farzat, Author Cune Press $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-885942-39-5
Of all the ways a political cartoonist can get noticed, there isn't any higher honor than being banned. Farzat holds that distinction, having been barred from three countries because of his cartoons, as mentioned in a timeline in this new collection of the Syrian artist's work. The controversy Farzat garners becomes even stranger after one reads his work. Unlike American political cartoonists, Farzat eschews easy laughs and hard-line stances. The cartoons are much more artful, usually just giving the reader one potent but metaphorical image that can be interpreted in any number of ways. The first set of cartoons is inspired by 9/11, but there are no pictures of the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Instead the first image is of a gun with a razor blade for a trigger and a severed finger tip. Farzat's approach means that some of his cartoons lack a sharp bite. The long section on politicians repeats broad messages of how the powerful are greedy and shady. When Farzat comments on society, his satire becomes more complex and interesting. His best work provides memorable images that are also obscure enough that it takes the reader's own mind, with his or her own views and prejudices, to complete it.
Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-1-885942-38-8
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