Je Suis Jack and you can’t stop the pencil

Jack Knight.
Jack Knight.

On January 7 2015, two gunmen forced their way into and opened fire in the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski.

In the aftermath of the horrific attacks, the phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’, translated as ‘I am Charlie’, has been adopted by people all over the world as a symbol of free speech and the determination not to give in to terrorism.

Je suis Charlie cartoon by Jack Knight for Lancaster Guardian.

Je suis Charlie cartoon by Jack Knight for Lancaster Guardian.

Our Lancaster Guardian cartoonist Jack Knight has supported the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ movement with his cartoon this week, in memory of those who died in the Paris attacks.

Jack said: “What happened in Paris last week was an absolute tragedy.

“I felt like I needed to do something in response to it.

“I’m a cartoonist. The staff at Charlie Hebdo were doing the same thing as me, drawing pictures for a publication as I do, and they have been killed for it.

“In the 21st century, it’s just wrong. Nobody should be in fear of their life for drawing a cartoon.

“I’m not particularly religious or anything like that. I’m not a big fan of political cartoons and don’t really see myself as a satirical cartoonist. But people should be allowed to draw whatever they want.

“There might be a reaction to it. People are entitled to complain, but not go on a murderous rampage.

“The content of what they were drawing was blasphemous to Muslims, and they have the right to be offended by it. But nobody has the right to be murdered for it.

“There were also people who tried to make money out of it, making crayons with Je Suis Charlie on them, jewellery and other merchandise, selling them for profit. That baffled me.”

In all, 17 people were killed in Paris by at least three terror suspects over three days.

The day after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a French policewoman was shot and killed, and then 24 hours later four hostages died when a terrorist seized a grocery store. This attacker, and two brothers suspected of the Charlie Hebdo attack, were killed by police.

Originally from Liverpool, Jack moved to Lancaster 11 years ago to study at the University of Cumbria.

Jack, who has been coming up with cartoons for the Guardian for the last year, runs his own illustration business – Knight Time Creations.

Since the Paris attacks, he has also been interviewed on BBC Radio Lancashire for his thoughts on the tragedy.

His ‘Je Suis Charlie’ cartoon is influenced by the United States Marine Corps memorial at Arlington Cemetery in the USA. the bronze statue of American soldiers working together raising the Stars and Stripes.

It shows three figures defiantly raising a pencil in the French colours.

Jack said: “In the wake of the tragedy, a lot of cartoonists around the world have done cartoons in support of the people who were killed, to show that terrorist actions like that won’t be listened to.

“You can’t stop the pencil.”