The first Hastings & 1066 Country Cartoon Festival took place on the weekend of October 15 and 16, to coincide with the 950th anniversary of the battle that changed the course of English history.
The cartoonists, mostly Professional Cartoonists Organisation members, expected to do battle with the elements, as it’s unusual to have an outdoor cartoon festival in October, but in fact the sun shone brightly on the Big Festival Day — 11am-5pm on the Sunday — and there was quite a buzz around the event.
Big board cartoons were drawn in a marquee on The Stade, on Hastings seafront. There were also two “community boards” for members of the public, both children and adults, to draw on, as live music and magic was performed throughout the day.
Opposite the marquee, in the slightly warmer Stade Hall, the main festival exhibition could be viewed and there were workshops, much drawing of caricatures and festival merchandise for sale.
Glenn Marshall attempted a recreation of the Bayeux Tapestry — but with funnnier gags — on a roll of wallpaper. But he hadn’t realised that the Tapestry is 70 metres long so he didn’t even make it to the battle. He has pledged to finish it by the 1,000th anniversary in 2066.
On the Saturday there was a reception for an exhibition by the late Martin Honeysett, who lived in Hastings, at the town’s Museum and Art Gallery.
At this event, the festival was officially opened with a speech by Bill Stott, the PCO chairleg, and was followed by a cartoonists’ panel discussion and Q&A, including a slideshow of cartoons, with Royston Robertson, The Surreal McCoy, and the aforementioned Glenn Marshall.
The other cartoonists taking part in the festival were Nathan Ariss, Jeremy Banx, Rupert Besley, Andrew Birch, Chris Burke, Denis Dowland, Clive Goddard and Cathy Simpson. They were joined by the French cartoonists Robert Rousso and Emmanuel Cerisier.
Also taking part in the event, and in workshops in the weeks leading up to the Big Festival Day, were the local artists James Brandow, Loulou Cousin, Scott Garrett, Ottilie Hainsworth, Julian Hanshaw, Jon Higham, Christopher Hoggins, Rachael House, Emily Johns, John Knowles, Robin Knowles and Andy Willard.
Many thanks must go to the organisers of the event: Penny Precious, Erica Smith and Pete Donohue. They hope to do it all again next year — and, who knows, maybe it will last until the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
Visit the website: 1066cartoonfestival.co.uk
Photos: Denis Dowland, Royston Robertson and Mika Schick.