New York artist remembers friend slain in Charlie Hebdo shooting, says attack will not silence his ideas

A New York cartoonist mourning a fellow artist killed when gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris Wednesday says he is confident the attack will not silence the beliefs his friend championed.

“How can people think that if you kill somebody you will kill an idea?” Felipe Galindo said in an interview with Yahoo News. “The goal of the terrorists was to silence them. It was totally the opposite. They sparked a new fire in a lot of art.”

Brothers Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, fatally shot by French police Friday after a massive manhunt and hostage standoff, are accused of killing 12 people in a bloody attack at the French satirical newspaper, including Galindo’s friend, cartoonist Georges Wolinski.

“I really liked the passion [Charlie Hebdo] had because they believed in their ideas and stuck with them to the end,” Galindo said. “In his cartoons, Georges was very outrageous, critical, and satirical of everything. He didn’t believe anything was sacred.”

The 57-year-old cartoonist, also known as Feggo, befriended Wolinski, 80, in 2012 at an international cartooning festival in Portugal. Wolinski presented Galindo with an award for a cartoon of a polar bear painting her cubs to look like pandas to survive global warming.

Galindo, who grew up in Mexico, was visiting Paris with his wife, also an artist,  for the holidays and returned home to New York Tuesday morning – one day before the shooting.

“It was Christmas and New Year’s so everyone was in good spirits,” he said. “For us, it was like a beautiful dream, but I was [awakened].”

On Wednesday, his wife woke him up and said, “This is going on, look what happened.”

Like countless people across the globe, Galindo was stunned and horrified. Then he was even more heartbroken to learn that his friend was among the victims.

Galindo’s first impulse after the tragic event — like many cartoonists — was to find solace and strength in his art. He penned a cartoon. The drawing shows a full tree with pencils for branches growing from another pencil that is riddled with bullet holes and bleeding.

"The pencil that was gunned down is almost like a fallen tree. The blood is making roots,” Galindo said. “More art, cartoons and voices will come out of this fallen pencil. More images will be created."

There has been an outpouring of international support this week for the people of France and the staff at Charlie Hebdo. Galindo, whose work has appeared the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post and more, said he hopes this week of support and solidarity vigils will strengthen people's resolve to champion free expression.

“Silence is not an option,” he said. “Since 9/11, the whole world knows many countries are going to be targets for terrorist attacks but people are not afraid. We have to stick to the goals of a free society. And that’s been reflected in the cartooning community.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Charlie Hebdo, which typically sells about 30,000 copies per week, plans to print one million copies of their next edition in defiance of the terrorists.