New Zealand Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson says some people have missed the point of his 9/11 cartoon, amid suggestions he supported right-wing activists.

Some people read into the cartoon and thought the meaning behind it was that he supported right-wing movements as seen in Charlottesville last year.

On the left underneath the headline, "2001", Emmerson has drawn the hand of the Statue of Liberty holding the flame with the word "united" below it.

Underneath a "2018" headline on the right, there is a person's hand holding a tiki torch which is ignited with the word "divided" below it.


The cartoon has taken off on Reddit with some viewers taking offence to the second hand on the right which shows the torch being grasped with the thumb sticking up.

Seventeen years on from September 11 and the US is as divided as ever, as depicted by Rod Emmerson.
Seventeen years on from September 11 and the US is as divided as ever, as depicted by Rod Emmerson.

"It's had 46,000-odd views and over 2000 comments [on Reddit]," Emmerson said.

"A lot of people were saying I was giving the thumbs up to the right-wing groups that carry tiki torches.

"I saw so much of this I had to jump on and tell them that this is how you carry a stick - you're reading too much into it."

The cartoon instead depicts how the tragedy of 9/11 banded America together, but in the 17 years since it has become divided after a range of social issues.

"Seventeen years on you look at America today and it's a very divided place and I half think that this was part of an overall plan," he said.

"The Islamic State said they would bomb the west with people to destabilise the west.

"It was an excellent opportunity for me, and us a day ahead of the states to do my cartoon reflecting on this."

He said it was a common occurrence for people to read into cartoons incorrectly and often happened when people who weren't familiar with an artist's work.

The comments and reaction on Reddit prompted Emmerson to explain his cartoon in detail and what its actual meaning was.

Another example of this was of Mark Knight's cartoon of Serena Williams in Australian newspaper the Herald Sun.

Knight's cartoon depicts his reaction to the US Open women's final and ridicules the heated exchange Williams had with chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

Comments have flooded in online from around the world claiming Knight is a racist for how he draws black people.

"I've seen many cartoons done in the last few days on Serena, I don't have a problem with the way she was drawn," Emmerson said.

"People tend to overanalyse, especially if they're not a big follower of your work and they stumble across it coming cold and they see something someone else can't see.

"Mark has done hundreds of cartoons on sportsmanship, bad behavior on the paddock or tennis court, he's done so many of them over the years.

"It happens to most cartoonists, a lot of their work gets misinterpreted and taken out of context."