Carlos Brito is a famous French graphic journalist. He is a paid cartoonist at « Le Canard Enchaîné » and a freelance journalist at « Le Monde ». He is the chief editor of the FECO website (Federation of Cartoonists' organisations). Brito also won the recent "Immigration Cartoon Contest" organized by Don Quichotte. (Click HERE to see his winning cartoon). Brito is keen on the new opportunities that Internet offers for a wider broadcasting of cartoons and a better protection of the press and humour cartoonists’ status.

Below is an interview that he gave to Marlène Pohle (FECO president) in August 2006 (and I'll publish an interview he gave to me as soon as it is translated into French).
MP : What does Internet make you think of ?

CB : In my workshop I’ve got two windows, one is overlooking a corn field and the other one is opened on to the rest of the world.

MP : What’s the use of Internet for you ?

CB : It helps me to follow what’s going on, search for documentation and communicate, i.e exchange written and drawn information, especially with other cartoonists. To put it shortly, it helps me watch the world stirring far beyond my favourite countryside. It’s quite enriching.

MP : Do you use Internet to communicate with the newspapers you are working with ?

CB : Not really ! I’m still using the good old fax, since I have to send black and white cartoons that are going to be printed on newspaper ordinary paper. The need for quality in the transmission doesn’t justify the use of a computer. The fax still remains the fastest means and as far as press is concerned the notion of time is prevailing.

MP : Well ! Then, Internet isn’t really a way that you use to send your production.

CB : Yes, it is ! I happened to send colour cartoons to « Le Monde » and then I used Internet for that. How could I do otherwise ? But it seems to me that Internet can become a particularly interesting means of diffusion. If you want to show cartoons that, whatever the reasons, were not published in the written press.

MP : So, you mean Internet could replace the printed issues ?

CB : Well ! You know, living has become more and more difficult for cartoonists because of the dramatically decreased space allowed to drawings in the press in general. If you want to go on existing as a cartoonist you have to find other frames to show your work. But, obviously, this is not a solution to the problem which is basically economical. The cartoonist’s work must be published to be a living for him. So far Internet has never fed any cartoonist. So let’s use it as, let’s say, a complementary medium.

MP : Actually...

CB : Let’s take the example of the FECO, that is to say about two thousand cartoonists living or trying to live on their work in thirty countries or so. All this little world succeeding in communicating one with the other is a good example of what can be done thanks to Internet. So, to achieve that, what could be better than a dynamic website opened to all the FECO members, with cartoons galleries on alternative topics and on current issues, forums discussions on problems linked to our profession or wider social subjects, enabling the circulation of any information concerning the work of the cartoonists.

MP : More precisely, how do you foresee your future contribution to the FECO website ?

CB : In a world said to be in a globalization process, it seems to me that the press and humour cartoonists that we are, are detaining a powerful means to defend some principles which would help mankind live harmoniously the time to come (which, we all know, is announced to be much darker). So, to my mind, we have to propose a few initiatives that would enable the FECO to be more actively committed to the life of the planet. Likewise what we did for the Muhammad cartoons fuss, it would be interesting to open a cartoons gallery on « oil » for instance.

MP : On oil ?

CB : Yes, on oil because this subject would allow the cartoonists to fire against the unconditional defender of the tankers, George W. Bush, the war wager, to go on dealing with all that concerns the Middle East, so near and so far at the same time and to start talking about the alternative energies problem. In one word, a wide subject leading to a very rich gallery of cartoons echoing with wit and humour to all these questions which happen to be crucial for the future of humankind.

MP : So, a kind of Agora ?

CB : Exactly, an Agora. As a cartoonist, I notice, as I said before, that less an less space is left for press and humour cartoons in printed issues and television. It is not only frustrating but it also keeps the cartoonist from living normally on his work. The gallery will not solve the economical problem, nevertheless, the fact of showing the works of the cartoonist will help him overcome the frustration of not seeing them published, it will also help him to get more fame and sometimes (every one can dream) orders without having to give any commission to the FECO...

MP : There are less cartoons in the written press, perhaps there is no demand from the readers.

CB : The reader is asked nothing. Only the director and the chief editor decide « what the readers want ». As some Liebling, a journalist at the «New Yorker » in the fifties, put it rightly, « The freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press medium ».Therefore, it is the newspaper owner who, at last, has the freedom of dictating his rules just in the same way as, today in France, one Dassault, the owner of the « Figaro », one Lagardère, the owner of « Paris-Match » or one Rothschild, co-owner of « Libération ». Whereas there is a greater demand for cartoons to pin up on walls, i.e. pictures for exhibitions, festivals, salons, competitions, why would there be no demand for drawings to « pin up » in the columns of the written press ? In fact, we are in a contradictory situation. If there is a need for cartoons to provide cultural or simply entertainment happenings with, there must be cartoonists and these must be able to live on their work so as to go on doing their job as real professionals and not amateurs. Yet, a cartoonist, to be able to live on his work, must have his drawings printed somewhere. And where, if not on newspapers ? The fight for the right to be published should partake of our goals but we are not a trade union. Every one plays his parts...

MP : Today...

CB : Today, we are living tragic events. The situation in the Middle East keeps growing worse, it is soaring to horror in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Israel, with civilians on the front line like in Iraq. As usual. Yet, the cartoonist is not only a joker for the king, he is, at the same time and perhaps more especially, the observer who is going to shoot a dart to hit where it can hurt. No killing, just underlining the fact. It seems to me, therefore, the FECO website should permanently open a large page on news so as to house the productions of the cartoonist members of our association and put together our different points of view on the current events. Two thousand cartoonists all around the world can represent a tremendous power, can’t it ?

MP : « Make humour, not war. » ?...

CB : I’d rather say « make laugh, not war ». It phonetically matches better the « make love, not war » of our youth. On the other hand, in French, in fact, it could be « faites l’humour, pas la guerre ». But now, at this point, we start being too serious, don’t we ?

MP : You’re right, perhaps it’s time to have a glass of Chinon...

CB : Excellent idea ! Let’ go down to the cellar.


--> The interview originally appeared on the FECO website and was translated from French to English by Batti