April is proving to be full of political cartoons in Boston, and no fooling.
The French consulate is sponsoring the visit this week of cartoonists including the famed French cartoonist Jean Plantureux, whose front-page cartoons in the daily Le Monde under his pen name, Plantu, help set the French political agenda.
Plantu is here with other prominent members of the group Cartooning for Peace, which he launched in 2006 to use the power of cartooning to get people to think more creatively about world conflicts and how to stop them. Participants in the forums this week include Palestinian cartoonist Khalil Abu Al Arafeh, Israeli Uri Fink, and Americans Daryl Cagle, Jeff Danziger and the Globe's own Dan Wasserman.
An exhibition of cartoons opens Tuesday evening at Northeastern University in Gallery 360, and runs through May 12. The visiting cartoonists also are taking part in discussions on Wednesday morning at Northeastern and at Harvard in the afternoon. Details at the French consulate web site.
Today at 5 p.m., the consulate says:
"all the cartoonists will be in the Boston Common in presence of Michael P. Ross, President of the Boston City Council and Chair of the Special Committee on Boston Common for a brief ceremony. The artists would each offer an original cartoon made especially for the occasion. The cartoonists will underline the importance of the Boston Common in American History and of its place as a forum for so many eloquent speakers and defenders of freedom.
Organized by French Consul General Christophe Guilhou, the Cartooning for Peace exhibition and forums give the cartoonists a chance to discuss the use of political satire to change minds and provoke debate. It also will shed light on the risks for cartoonists who use their artistry to challenge conventional thinking.
Plantu has been making waves with Cartooning for Peace since 2006, shortly after the publication of political cartoons by a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohammed, considered offensive by many Muslims, set off protests that claimed more than 200 lives.
Coincidentally, another event on Tuesday evening at Harvard also will take up the theme of the Danish cartoons. As part of the Boston Muslim Film Festival being organized by the American Islamic Congress, a documentary called "Bloody Cartoons" is being screened at 6 p.m. in Boylston Hall in Harvard Yard, along with a short but provocative animated video by Daniyal Noorani, called "Find Heaven."
After the screenings, I will moderate a panel discussion with Noorani, who lives in Boston, and Brandeis University Professor Jytte Klausen, author of the 2009 book, "The Cartoons that Shook the World." Klausen's book became controversial when publisher Yale University Press decided to omit the reproduction of the Danish cartoons in Klausen's scholarly work.