An imprisoned West African graphic novelist received the Courage in Cartooning award. Will it help?

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 November 6 at 12:26 PM

THE CARTOONIST Ramón Esono Ebalé sits imprisoned in Equatorial Guinea for his art. Over the weekend, his journalistic brethren formally helped spotlight his case.

Ebalé was awarded the Courage in Editorial Cartooning honor Saturday evening during an Association for American Editorial Cartoonists convention ceremony at Hofstra University in Long Island.

The Washington area-based Cartoonists Rights Network International bestows the annual award upon a creator who has “exhibited great courage and self-sacrifice in the pursuit of their craft and in the exercise of free speech.”

Ebalé, a political cartoonist and graphic novelist born in Equatorial Guinea, has created work critical of his home nation’s ruling party. He has not been charged with a crime related to his cartoons, according to the CRNI, yet he remains held at Black Beach prison.

Ebalé was arrested Sept. 16 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. According to a petition seeking his release, the cartoonist was interrogated about “Obi’s Nightmare,” his graphic novel that satirizes the government of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea’s president and Africa’s longest-ruling leader.

“Mr. Ebalé’s continuous refusal to be intimidated by the threats made against him, and his courage in the face of a brutal and repressive regime,” led to his receiving the award, cartoonist Joel Pett, president of CRNI’s board of directors, said in a statement.

In picking up the award for her husband, Eloisa Vaello Marco challenged the AAEC to send a delegation to visit Ebalé and to appeal directly to authorities for his release, CRNI said.

Past recipients of the award include Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart, who was recently released from prison. At Saturday’s ceremony, a statement was read in which Kart thanked the AAEC for its support on his behalf during his incarceration.