Abstract and Keywords
This chapter explores the editorial, single-image cartoons of three prominent illustrators: Doaa El-Adl, Xavier Bonilla (“Bonil”), and Godfrey Mwampembwa (“Gado”). These artists use visual satire and social media to participate in a form of comedy Mikhail Bakhtin theorizes to be the counterforce to the epic and its generic presumption of an absolute distance from the past, along with the epic’s valorization of great men and its solemnity toward nationalist traditions. By contrast, European folk culture, according to Bakhtin, developed a contrary mode in comedy of “laughing at living reality,” which, like editorial political cartoons, involves the excoriation of authoritarianism, corruption, and injustice. Representing a time-scape always present, though plural, and unfolding, the editorial cartoons deliver contemporaneity to emergent global audiences on Bakhtin’s “plane of laughter.” On this plane, epic distance is abolished in favor of “crude contact” with political power rendered objectified, plastic, and embodied.
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