Khalil Bendib


Khalil Bendib (born 1957) is an Algerian American fine artist and political cartoonist.


  • Muslims are stuck between a rock and a hard place: foreigners invading their lands on the one hand and the homegrown menace of Islamic extremists on the other. It’s a catastrophe.
  • If you go to my website [], you’ll see that my slogan is “The Pen is Funnier than the Sword”—which I really believe. I’m committed to non-violent change.
  • Because of my ethnic background, the Israeli occupation of Palestine is a huge issue for me—it hits me very hard on many different levels.
  • The common denominator between all my cartoons is rebellion against blind conformity.
  • What I liked so much was their freedom from the constraint on time. When I went back to Morocco it occurred to me that [in the United States] we don’t have this wonderful calm. They are daydreaming, what we would call in the west, ‘wasting time.’
  • It struck me at some point after the Arab Spring and the nuclear disaster in Fukushima—both following closely in the footsteps of the Wall Street meltdown—that epochal changes seemed to be finally happening all around us. The hubris of so many tyrannies, whether they be political, economic, or ecological, was starting to be challenged by large masses of people in so many different countries at the same time, and it occurred to me that the title Too Big to Fail would fit equally all these seemingly disparate juggernauts. I must say I have really enjoyed drawing these cartoons. For the first time in my career, despite the various ups and downs that can be expected in revolutionary times, hope finally seemed to be pointing its nose at the end of the tunnel (to mix metaphors like a pro.)
  • Humor is often born out of pain, misery, or anger. ..Humor for people like me functions as a way to maintain our sanity. It also serves to sweeten the bitter pill of truth that I try to administer to readers who are sometimes reluctant to be challenged in their political beliefs. First you read, then you catch yourself wondering why this is funny, and then realize that the joke actually makes a good point that you may not have thought of. Humor is there to disarm and deconstruct conventional wisdom and preconceived ideas.
  • I’m an idealist and an optimist: all my political work is aimed at helping usher in a better world. I believe that political cartooning should be almost a form of activism, not just idle commentary for the sake of commentary.
  • I never start from a drawing, as some people imagine. I always start from a precise idea that I mull and perfect until the cartoon is ready to be drawn. This is not conceptual or performance art. There is little room for improvisation, and every barb is premeditated. You decide what topic you’ll tackle, zero in on the absurdity contained within, find a gag, a symbol, or a pun to encapsulate it and then—and only then—draw to the best of your ability.

Quotes about person/work

  • Khalil Bendib, with a few ingenious strokes of his pen, gets to the heart of the issues of our time. His cartoons are in the greatest tradition of American political humor, with that combination of wit and intelligence so needed in the struggle for justice.
    • Howard Zinn, blurb in Mission Accomplished by Khalil Bendib (2002)
  • Bendib is an equal-opportunity skewer. The more a subject or victim is ignored by the mass media, the more he infuriates, informs, and intensifies the reader's attention. Cartoons need to jolt. Bendib obliges page after page.
    • Ralph Nader, blurb in Mission Accomplished by Khalil Bendib (2002)
  • (Bendib) presents a perspective that I think is simply lacking in any meaningful way in the mainstream American media, he brings a cultural and nuanced understanding that goes a long way in helping Americans understand the Middle East.
    • Nidal Ibrahim (publisher of Arab American Business Magazine in Huntington Beach)
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