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08 January 2015
by Clare Colley

David Pope's Charlie Hebdo cartoon goes viral on social media

David Pope's cartoon reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack

When cartoonist David Pope heard about the Charlie Hebdo shooting he drew a quick pencil sketch while watching the TV reports late on Wednesday night.

Within hours the image had gone viral on social media with more than 50,000 retweets and close to 22,000 favourites by 8am.

"It just hit a nerve," he said.

"I met at least one of the French cartoonists at a French cartooning festival a few years ago and I just stayed up to watch the news to find out as much as I could about what happened.

"It wasn't until early in the morning our time that we knew who died and I just couldn't sleep."

Four of France's most prominent satirical cartoonists were among the eight Charlie Hebdo staffers and two police officers killed in the attack.

But Pope said he doesn't think the attack will change anything about what he or other cartoonists do.

"Ultimately people who carry out these attacks can't defeat ideas through these means and they won't succeed," he said.

"Our task is to keep doing what we do… focus our satire on those in power and those who seek to wield power in ugly ways like these gun men and be part of a movement that promotes social solidarity, a free and open and tolerant society."

Pope wasn't the only one who took to social media to express his feelings after the attack, across the world cartoonists and journalists were among those who took to social media where the hashtag #jesuischarlie, I am Charlie, quickly gained popularity as a way of showing solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the Paris attack.

"I think most cartoonists would have had the same response, most people are very shocked by what has happened," Pope said.

"In the first instance you feel for the family and friends of the people who have died all the journalists, police and cartoonists."

Pope said France's cartooning and comment culture was far more extensive than Australia's and there wasn't an equivalent of the magazine here.

"[Cartooning] is a lot more valued in some ways, they have huge festivals that go for a week at a time," he said.

"They have a long history of satire and comment culture.

"The cartoonists in France at those publications push the boundaries a lot more than we do in Anglo countries.

"I don't think it will change the culture, I don't think these people can win.

"It's something the French really value in their culture and it's something the people want to preserve and fight for and protect."

While he did not agree with all the decisions of what French cartoonists and magazines published, Pope said nothing justified the brutal and shocking massacre.

"Questions are always asked of us 'are we focusing on the right targets'," he said.

"We know images are power so thinking thru the consequences of what could come out of them for social cohesions and solidarity is a question we are always talking about."