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Toons Mag

Toons Mag is a cartoon magazine that offers a global online platform for publishing editorial cartoons, comics, caricatures, illustrations, and related news. It is a multilingual publication and organizer of an international cartoon contest and exhibitions. It was founded in 2009 by cartoonist Arifur Rahman, based in Drøbak, Norway.

multilingual online platform comics

1. Founder and Brief History

In 2007, Cartoonist Arifur Rahman started drawing for a Bangladeshi satirical magazine called Alpin.[1][2] It was a fun supplementary publication by Prothom Alo.

In Alpin, one of his cartoons that made a joke about adding "Mohammad" to the beginning of a person's name. The cartoon culminates in a young boy introducing his cat as "Mohammad Cat."[3][4] The cartoon, which was published during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, ignited protests across Bangladesh and led to Arifur Rahman's arrest.[5][6][6][7][8][9][10]

Arifur Rahman, Founder and Publisher of Toons Mag.

On 18 September 2007, Alpin was banned permanently and the editor of Alpin was suspended.[11] Bangladeshi newspaper editors decided that they will never be published his cartoons in the future. In prison, Arifur Rahman wished that when he was freed, he would be able to start a magazine like Alpin. On 20 March 2008, after six months and two days in prison for "hurting religious sentiments," he was freed but found himself unable to publish his work.[12][13][14][15]

One year later, some newspapers published his cartoons but all of them were published anonymously. Arifur Rahman wasn't happy to publish his cartoon anonymously. He always wished to publish his cartoons under his own name. So, he tried to start a printed cartoon magazine but did not have enough money. Then, he decided to publish on the internet, a cheap and easy way to get a global audience. In 2009, he started, "Toons Mag Online Cartoon Magazine."[13]

2. Award

In 2015, Toons Mag Bengali won "Best of online activism awards" in the people's choice category in Deutsche Welle, Germany.[16][17]

Toons Mag promotes Freedom of Expression through cartoons, comics, caricatures and articles. It is published in English, Bengali, Arabic, Spanish and Hindi languages.[13]

3. Cartoon Contest and Exhibitions

Since 2015, Toons Mag has organized the International Cartoon Contest and Exhibitions to support children's rights, women's rights, freedom of expression, gender equality.

3.1. 2015: Children in War

In 2015, Toons Mag organized the International Cartoon Contest and Exhibition "Children in War" to focus on the suffering of children in war and conflict areas, such as in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq. It was a moving exhibition, which was exhibited in multiple places in Norway and Sweden. One hundred and twenty-eight cartoonists participated from 51 different countries.[18] On 10 September 2015, The exhibition was opened by Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt in Avistegnernes Hus, Drøbak. After the opening, was exhibited in Oslo, Nesodden, Bergen, Stavanger, Haugesund, Kristiansand and in Norrköping in Sweden. The event was supported by The Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery and Fritt Ord.[19][20]

3.2. 2016: Women's Rights

The cartoon competition was organized by Arifur Rahman and Toons Mag and received 1,625 drawings by 567 cartoonists from 79 different countries.[21] A selection were represented in the Women's Rights exhibitions, which opened in Drøbak, Bangalore and Uttar Pradesh for International Women's Day, 8 March 2016. The drawings in the exhibitions deal with women's rights and limitations; the lack of education, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, violence, discrimination, legal protection and workload.[22][23]

On 10 December 2016, it was exhibited in the Brain Sneezing Gallery in the Prešov Wave Club, Slovakia.[24][25]

The event was supported by The Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery, Fritt Ord, Indian Institute of Cartoonist, Brain Sneezing Gallery, Prešov Wave club, EEA funds and the Slovak Republic.

Members of the Jury
Name Introduction Country
Siri Dokken Norwegian Cartoonist and Illustrator Norway
Sabine Voigt German Cartoonist and Illustrator Germany
Saadet Demir Yalçın Turkish Cartoonist Turkey
Nigar Nazar The first Pakistani female cartoonist. Pakistan
Ahsan Habib Bangladeshi Cartoonist and Editor of Unmad Bangladesh
Borislav Stankovic Serbian Cartoonist Serbia
Jan-Erik Ander Swedish Cartoonist and Illustrator Sweden
Matt Wuerker A Pulitzer Prize-winning American political cartoonist and founding staff member of Politico. United States

12 cartoonist was won the award out of 567 cartoonists.

The Winners
Name Country Award
Marcin Bondarowicz Poland First Prize
Nenad Ostojic Croatia Second Prize
Reza Mokhtarjozani United States Third Prize
Zygmunt Zaradkiewicz Poland Honorable Mention
Zlatkovsky Mikhail Russia Honorable Mention
Osama Hajjaj Jordan Honorable Mention
Sahar Ajami Iran Honorable Mention
Sajad Rafeei Iran Honorable Mention
Selói Peters Brazil Honorable Mention
Afri Diyansyah Indonesia Honorable Mention
Michel Kichka Israel Honorable Mention
Plantu France Honorable Mention

3.3. 2017: Freedom of Expression

This exhibition has been produced in collaboration with cartoonist Arifur Rahman from Bangladesh, who has himself been a victim of torture and imprisonment for his drawings. Five hundred and eighteen cartoonists participated from 83 countries, submitting 1,556 cartoons.

The exhibition opening was in three countries. Per Edgard Kokkvold, writer, and chairman of the Norwegian Broadcasting Council, former newspaper editor and secretary general of the Norwegian Press Association and leader of the Press Complaints Commission inaugurated the exhibition. Moddi Knutsen, Norwegian musician, inaugurated the exhibition and Roar Hagen, Norwegian political cartoonist, announced the award winner.[26]

In the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore, India, Dr. Sathyabhama Badhreenath, director of the National Gallery of Modern Art inaugurated the exhibition.[27][28]

It was also exhibited in Kýchanie mozgu – Brain Sneezing gallery, Prešov, and Košice, Slovakia, as well as in the Slovak embassy in Oslo, Norway.

The event was supported by The Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery, Fritt Ord, Norwegian Festival of Literature in Lillehammer, Brain Sneezing Gallery, Prešov, and Indian Institute of Cartoonist. Later on, it was exhibited on Eidsvoll.[26][29][30]

Members of the Jury
Name Occupation Country
Ann Telnaes Winner of Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. She is the president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists United States
Liza Donnelly An United States cartoonist and writer, best known for her work in The New Yorker and is resident cartoonist of CBS News United States
Roar Hagen Norwegian cartoonist and illustrator, cartoonist for Norwegian Newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) Norway
Egil Nyhus Norwegian Cartoonist and illustrator, editorial cartoonist for Romerikes Blad Norway
Carina Milde Curator of Museum of Work, Sweden Sweden
Nenad Ostojic Croatian Cartoonist Croatia
Cintia Bolio Mexican Cartoonist and illustrator México
Atiqullah Shahid Afghan Cartoonist Afghanistan
Judy Nadin Australian cartoonist and caricaturist Australia
John Curtis South African Cartoonist South Africa

12 cartoonist was won the award out of 518 cartoonists.

The Winners
Name Country Award
José Antonio Rodríguez García Mexico First Prize
Bruno Hamzagic Brazil Second Prize
Aristides E. Hernandez Cuba Third Prize
Miro Stefanović Serbia Honorable Mention
Angel Boligan Mexico Honorable Mention
Firuz Kutal Norway Honorable Mention
Galym Boranbayev Kazakhstan Honorable Mention
Walter Gastaldo Argentina Honorable Mention
Andrei Popov Russia Honorable Mention
Yihenew Worku Ethiopia Honorable Mention
Julio Carrión Cueva Peru Honorable Mention
Jitet Kustana Indonesia Honorable Mention

4. Cartoonist of the Year Award

Cartoonist of the Year Award monogram.

An annual award to appreciate and motivate cartoonists for their best cartoons.

Year Cartoonist Country Introduction
2016/17 José Antonio Rodríguez García Mexico Political Cartoonist and illustrator from Mexico
2018 Arcadio Esquivel Costa Rica Cartoonist and Professor of Department of Fine Arts at the School of General Studies, University of Costa Rica


  1. "Cartoonist arrested over harmless play on name Mohammed | Reporters without borders" (in en). 2007-09-19. "Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediately release of Arifur Rahman, a cartoonist with Aalpin, the daily newspaper Prothom Alo's weekly satirical supplement." 
  2. "Arifur Rahman". 
  3. "Bangladeshi Cartoonist Arifur Rahman on Calling a Cat "Mohammad" | Sampsonia Way Magazine". 
  4. "Cartoonist arrested over harmless play on name Mohammed". 19 September 2007. 
  5. "Violence over Bangladesh cartoon". 21 September 2007. 
  6. "Bangladesh suspends magazine over controversial cartoon". Reuters. 21 September 2007. 
  7. "Cartoonist Arif jailed". 12 November 2009. 
  8. "Cartoonist Arifur Rahman Arrested in Bangladesh for Offensive Cartoon" (in bn). 
  9. "Prothom Alo cartoonist arrested". 
  10. "Cartoonist jailed in Bangladesh". 19 September 2007. 
  11. "Bangladesh suspends magazine over controversial cartoon". Reuters. 21 September 2007. 
  12. "Får endelig tegne hva han vil" (in nb). "Rahman tegner ofte ut fra fantasien. Illustrasjon Arifur Rahman Kunne ikke bruke navnet sitt" 
  13. Sigvartsen, Ana Leticia (1 June 2013). "Avistegning førte til fengsel" (in nb-NO). NRK. 
  14. Greenslade, Roy (20 September 2007). "Bangladesh cartoonist arrested". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. 
  15. "Cartoonist Arif freed". 
  16. "People's Choice for Bengali – The Bobs – Best of Online Activism". 
  17. "Drøbak-tegner Arifur Rahman kåret til beste aktivist på nett" (in no). 4 May 2015. 
  18. "Children in War". 
  19. "Biskopen åpner utstilling i Drøbak om barns lidelser i krig" (in no). 8 September 2015. "Utstillingen er en av vandreutstillingene i regi av Avistegnernes Hus, og tilbys via nettet til institusjoner over hele verden. Den er også støttet av «Fritt Ord»." 
  20. arbetetsmuseum. "Barn och krig" (in sv-SE). 
  21. "Women's Rights in Cartoons". 
  22. "Tema: Kvinners rettigheter: Moren ble barnebrud som 11-åring – nå tegner Arifur (31) for kvinners rettigheter" (in no). 
  23. Madhukar, Jayanthi MadhukarJayanthi; Feb 27, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Updated; 2016; Ist, 21:01. "The feminist half". 
  24. "Správy RTVS" (in sk). 
  25. "Pozvánka na výstavu – Správy – MZV MZV PORTAL". 
  26. "Freedom of Expression". 13 December 2016. 
  27. "Express Publications Indulge – Chennai dated Fri, 12 May 17". 
  28. "Toons shall overcome: The fight for freedom of expression". 
  29. "Fra fengsel i hjemlandet til utstilling på Verket" (in nb-NO). 
  30. "Freedom of Expression – Museumstjenesten" (in no). 
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