What the Charlie Hebdo attack meant to me...

Being a cartoonist isn't a popular job. 

If you think about it, there are only a handful of people who end up being a cartoonist and each of those people became a cartoonist by different means and for different reasons. 

For instance, I decided to be a cartoonist because I thought it would be one step closer to being a cute super hero in a sailor suit. (Later on, I realized that I'm really good at making and telling stories, which became my "adult" reason to be a cartoonist.)

But after today, being a cartoonist is also a dangerous job.

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I hope many of you are updated with the events going on in Paris, France today. If not, I will try summaries it for you:

  • Two gunmen, most likely affiliated with a terrorist group, killed 12 people and wounded 11 in the Charlie Hebdo HQ.
  • Among the 12, four of them were notable and well accomplished cartoonists.
  • The magazine was attacked mostly because of the content of their comics, most of which satirized many religions, including Islam.
  • For more info and updates, you can click here and read more.

Unfortunately, I did not find out about this on my own. I was told about this via my parents, which by the way was the weirdest part about this. You see, before this event my parents never really considered me a cartoonist. They would either refer me to either an illustrator, a graphic design, or even an art history major- any art title that would seem respectable in other people's opinions. Though many times it bothered me, at the same time I ignored it, thinking who I was and what I thought of myself was more important than trying to impress strangers.

But this morning, my father came up to me and asked how my "cartooning" was going. Thinking this was odd, I saw it was going "good", while trying to come up with reasons why he would ask. He then told me about how some guy was murdered because of a comic, he says to me, "Haemi, I worry about you being a cartoonist. Please try to find something else to do."

Instinctively, I said never and went about my business. During that time, I looked up what he was talking about and it was all over the news. How France declared it a day of mourning; how many other cartoonist were paying tribute on social media to the 4 cartoonist who passed and how the two gunman are still on the loose. As I read more about this, I began to tear. In all the years of me writing and drawing comics, the thought of persecution never really came into mind. To be honest, a lot of my stories aren't really "in depth", but the fear felt real. You don't hear the same story if someone was an accountant or a secretary, right?

But deep down, I realized that I also felt a little happiness- maybe this whole thing was a little bittersweet for me. You see, my parents- who would rather call me an art historian or a "budding" accountant- called me a cartoonist. To be honest, no one really calls me a cartoonist now and days (except for the times I'm at a bar and someone else would introduce me as a cartoonist to get the whole "that sounds interesting" ball rolling). To be called that made my heart skip a beat. Not because I was eating a ton of chocolates and was going into a diabetic shock, but because it made me proud of what I do. To be able to draw ideas and stories and letting it translate to those who are wanted to know more about everything around them is rewarding. 

To shorten this long blog entry, this is my point: Today, I realized that I am a proud cartoonist and though their deaths were tragic, it was not in vain.

Being a cartoonist may be dangerous now, but it is worth it.

Till next time!