Thursday, 12 January 2012


"Tents Beyond Tents" by P. Jerome and C. Pierre
Two years after the earthquake in Haiti, journalists and cartoonists have come together to produce a comic book that gives the Haitian perspective of the devastating event and its consequences.

The first chapter in this 75-page "comics journalism project" is being published today. It focuses on daily life in Haiti and the survivors’ battle to recover from the deaths of loved ones and the destruction of livelihood and property since Jan. 12, 2010.

Launched by Cartoon Movement, an international publishing platform for editorial cartoons and comics journalism,  the venture emphasizes that the Haitian viewpoint  is important, against the backdrop of often skewed international reporting.
“There is not a lot of media attention any more in Haiti, but there are still so many problems that remain, and we thought it was very important for Haitian people to tell their own story,” said Tjeerd Royaards, a Dutch cartoonist who is a member of Cartoon Movement’s editorial team.
“We also wanted to do this project because we believe that comics journalism and using graphic images to convey a story and a message is a really powerful way to shed some light in a different manner on important issues,” he told SWAN.
In July of 2011, Royaards and U.S cartoonist Matt Bors spent a month in Haiti searching for a cartoonist and a team of journalists to produce a long-running series of non-fiction comics that would delve into the issues facing the country. The initial result is “Tents Beyond Tents”, a first chapter describing life in the tent camps that still dominate much of Port-au-Prince. Some half a million people still live in temporary shelters despite the many pledges of aid.
The story is by Pharés Jerome, a reporter for the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste, and subsequent chapters will be done by other journalists within their areas of expertise.
Cartoon Movement’s editors say that in addition to telling Haiti's story through comics, the organization is “one of the rare outlets” providing Haitian journalists access to an international audience.
“Most of the news about Haiti is through the eyes of Western journalists,” said Royaards. “It makes a difference when people tell things from their own perspective and this is what this project wants to do.”
The entire series will be drawn by Chevelin Pierre,  considered one of the most  talented comic artists working in Haiti. He says that the project is an opportunity to express his frustrations. and those of his countrymen.
Comics journalism “lends itself perfectly to the subject” of venting unhappiness with the current situation, according to Pierre.
Cartoon Movement said it will keep a spotlight on Haiti after the anniversary of the earthquake has passed, publishing multiple pieces in 2012 that will focus on such issues as Haitian politics, the role of NGO's, and "what exactly happened with all the relief money that came flooding in after the disaster". The comics will be published in English, French, and Creole.
Royaards told SWAN that the editors will try to find a publisher to produce the book in hard cover, and that all proceeds will go to the Haitian writers and artists taking part. - A.M.
For more information:

And for an article (by O. Snaije) about a renewed Haitian literary festival, see: