New Graphic Novel Challenges Free Speech Limitations

A new graphic novel by the European Youth Press explores the state of free press in Europe as seen through the eyes and pens of young European cartoonists and journalists coming into their craft. Entitled Free Our Media, the graphic novel is the collaborative effort of 15 cartoonists and journalists from 15 different European countries, exploring the challenges faced by the press. The goals of the project are to not only raise awareness of the limitations of today’s press, but also to create a space that encourages debate about these important issues.

As noted on the project’s website:

Young people from 15 countries will take up an active role in developing an action-oriented long-term strategy on Media Freedom, by working on a comic book and an online educational platform, for young journalists to defend and enhance media freedom in Europe.

Taking a year to complete, the end result is a collection of 14 cartoons from the U.K. to Turkey. Covering topics such as media censorship and technological limitations in Denmark to the physical and psychological threats faced by the press in Germany, Free Our Media presents a comprehensive look at the deteriorating state of free press in Europe through the personal and intimate stories of the individuals who face challenges to expression. “You can draw silly cartoons about serious matters, and it helps, and it gets the message across,” said British illustrator Jo Bresse to Index on Censorship. “And I think that was important for a lot of the people who were there, whose countries don’t have very good press freedom. It gave them a platform to say what they wanted to say.”

All around the world we are seeing cartoonists using the graphic medium coupled with technological advancements as a way to not only express themselves and get their materials out, but also as a way to circumvent the obstacles posed by the governments in their respective countries. Whether it be the burgeoning independent comics scene in Egypt or crowdfunding in Lebanon, the world has become a lot more connected and now more than ever eyes are on the global state of free press.

Free Our Media is another example of the collaborative effort of young creators to tell their stories and fight for their right to free speech. I think what will be impacted for a long time are the ambassadors,” said project coordinator Anna Saraste. “I think a lot has changed for them in terms of how they see their role as young media makers. Something in their attitude changed. They will have an impact on other people, wherever they go and wherever they decide to practice this profession.”

You can check out a preview of the comic on the European Youth Media’s website here.

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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!