Cartoon from 5 February 2018 featuring Dutch politicians Kajsa Ollongren and Thierry Baudet fighting over who is the most concerned about the political situation of the country

Ruben L. Oppenheimer is a Dutch political cartoonist, whose work appears regularly in Dutch and Belgian national newspapers like Algemeen Dagblad, NRC Handelsblad, nrc.next and De Standaard, as well as a variety of regional ones. He also gains much exposure through social media. The cartoonist has a fierce anti-religious stance, but attacks all sides of the political spectrum with his striking naturalistic caricatures, idiosyncratic humor and bittersweet views of everyday stupidities. Ever since the terrorist attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in early 2015, Oppenheimer has been a regular guest in Dutch media for topics regarding free speech and the role of satire in our society.

Oppenheimer was born in 1975 in Maastricht, where he studied graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts. He later studied Illustrative design at the Karel de Grote University College in Antwerp, Belgium. An avid drawer since his childhood, he was already making socially engaged work when he was thirteen years old. This was triggered by the release of two German war criminals from a Breda prison in 1989. Coming from a family of Holocaust victims, he used his artwork to get rid of his anger. The subversive drawings he made of his teachers for his high school newspaper were the first to evoke uproar. Many cases of controversy have followed in his professional career, especially since Oppenheimer doesn't tackle his subjects from one particular political viewpoint. He makes biting jokes about rightist politicians like Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet, but he also mocks the Islam and religion in general. He once jokingly remarked that he was happy to receive as much threats (and compliments) from both the leftist and rightist side of society.


Cartoon (17 November 2017) about the constant debate during the Sinterklaas festivities whether folkloric character Black Pete is racism or not. Supporters and opponents both fight ruthlessly, overlooking the child's perspective of this annual children's party.

Oppenheimer began his professional career illustrating reader's questions for a local Maastricht paper. He also sold his first political cartoon to them, which dealt with the murder of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn on 6 May 2002. Shortly afterwards, his cartoon about the general elections was picked up by national newspaper NRC, and he has remained a staple in both NRC Handelsblad and nrc.next since then. His work also appears regularly in Algemeen Dagblad, the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, regional newspapers like De Limburger, De Gelderlander, Brabants Dagblad, Dagblad van het Noorden and De Leeuwarder Courant, and in free local weekly papers like 1 Lokaal from Limburg. Magazines like Nieuwe Revu, the literary publication TIJM Magazine, Der Spiegel (Germany) and Courrier International (France) print his work as well, while he has also contributed cartoons to the satirical news website De Speld. Since December 2015 he makes an additional daily cartoon starring fish called 'Uit de kom', to which readers can submit the texts for the balloons.

In 2014 Oppenheimer was sued by Dutch lawyer Theo Hiddema after he had called him "shady" in one of his cartoons. The court initially ruled in Hiddema's favor, but the cartoonist won the case in an appeal. Another widely reported case dealt with his depiction of Turkish president Erdogan. Erdogan takes the blue Twitter bird from behind with the text "Erdogan is NOT a goatfucker" in early 2016. The cartoon commented on the Turkish government blocking social media in an attempt to censor opponents, as well as their agressive response to German comedian Jan Böhmermann who called Erdogan a goatfucker in his satirical TV show. Oppenheimer in turn also received threats from Erdogan supporters, while a Turkish judge declared in December 2017 that the tweet containing the cartoon should be removed, which Oppenheimer refused to do. The cartoonist also came in conflict with his client NRC Handelsblad, because of a biting caricature of Belgian-Lebanese politician and publicist Dyab Abou Jahjah as Walt Disney's Big Bad Wolf in a failed pig costume. The newspaper decided to remove the drawing from one of Jahjah's articles in 2016, which angered the cartoonist. In the aftermath, Moroccan-Dutch writer Abdelkader Benali had to resign as chairman of the annual Inktspot cartoon prize because of his violent response to the cartoon.


Cartoon from 23 March 2017 in which Oppenheimer mocks lawyer Theo Hiddema ones again. The cartoon appeared on the occasion of his first day as Member of Parliament, and compares him to Dutch rightist politician Geert Wilders and then US president Donald Trump.

In addition to all the controversy, Oppenheimer has received much praise as well. In 2005, he was awarded the BeNe prize for best Belgian-Dutch political cartoon. The cartoon in question was published on 29 January 2004 en depicts the American president George W.  Bush and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair shaking hands with their Pinocchio-shaped noses, a criticism of their false allegations to legitimize the 2003 war in Iraq. Press Cartoon Belgium awarded him the Solidarity Award in 2010 for his cartoon of French philosopher Voltaire wearing a headscarf with the caption: "I completely disagree with what you wear, but will defend your right to do so until death." In 2015 he received the local Membrede prize, which is awarded annually in Maastricht to someone who is committed to others in society and dares to cross borders. Oppenheimer has stated that he would no longer submit work to the annual Inktspot prize after accusing the jury of nepotism.


Cartoon about the Brexit from 25 June 2016

rubenoppenheimer.com

Ruben Oppenheimer in Lambiek's Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis

Series and books by Ruben L. Oppenheimer in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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