We’re relaunching The Illustrated PEN series with six guest editors—MariNaomi, Robert Kirby, Liza Donnelly, Grace Bello, and Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper of World War III.

This week, guest editor and The New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly illustrates the plight of imprisoned journalist Khadija Ismayilova, recipient of the 2015 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Ismayilova’s case has resurfaced in the news in recent weeks as international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney announced that she would be taking the jailed journalist’s case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The piece is part of a larger series of comics and cartoons commissioned by PEN America with the help of Donnelly and The New Yorker Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff to draw attention to Ismayilova’s case and to pressing issues of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.


Liza Donnelly is a cartoonist and writer for The New YorkerThe New York TimesPolitico, and Medium. A cultural envoy for the State Department and director of Cartooning for Peace NY, she delivered a popular TED talk and has curated numerous exhibits of international cartoonists. The author of 16 books, Donnelly is the recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Connecticut and is a Thurber Prize finalist.

The Illustrated PEN is a weekly online series that aspires to be at the intersection of literature, journalism, and visual storytelling, where images and words come together in an ever-emerging and essential creative form. We’ll feature fiction and nonfiction graphic narratives, comics journalism and illustrated reportage, stories of social justice and personal stories that can’t be told through words alone.