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Roger and out: Chairman steps down

May 1, 2014 in Events, General, News

Roger Penwill narrates the Melodrawma at Shrewsbury 2014

Roger Penwill narrates the Melodrawma at Shrewsbury 2014. Photo by Kasia Kowalska

Roger Penwill reflects on more than a decade as chairman of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival as he hands over the reins:

I first approached the town of Shrewsbury with the idea of staging an annual cartoon festival in 2002. Back then very few people knew what a cartoon festival was, including the local council.

The idea gradually took root and the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival began in 2004. I had no idea that it would still be going strong after 11 years, I didn’t expect it to last more than two. It is the UK’s longest running annual cartoon festival by far and is currently the only one of its kind in the country. Hopefully it will still be with us for many years into the future.

Each year we festival organisers have enticed top cartoonists from our country and around the world to Shrewsbury in April. Numerous talks and workshops have been given over the “Cartoonists Live!” weekends. Nearly 50 exhibitions of cartoons have been shown, often giving the public opportunities to buy this collectable art form.

Roger Penwill drawn at Shrewsbury 2014 by Matt Buck

Roger Penwill drawn at Shrewsbury 2014 by Matt Buck

Exhibitions of cartoons from the UK, Australia, France, Greece, Germany, Holland, the US and elsewhere have been staged. Also each year, drawing live, have been many of the country’s best caricaturists. The huge Big Board cartoons were a world’s first for the festival.

What makes cartooning appealing to all ages is its emphasis on fun. The festival is defined by its humour, from its often bemused mascot Barry the Shrew (Shrew … Barry – geddit?) to the chaotic Melodrawma comic strip, which is drawn to a live narration, musical accompaniment and sound effects.

The festival may well have inspired many who have visited it to take up pen and brush. We would like to think so. It certainly was the inspiration for the birth of the Professional Cartoonists Organisation, with which it is closely linked.

The festival has been well-supported by the Shropshire Council from the start, but this year it could not continue with its funding because of cutbacks. The festival is therefore adapting to a self-funded future, which it is confident it can do.

Detail from this year's Big Boards, photographed by The Surreal McCoy

Detail from this year’s Big Boards, photographed by The Surreal McCoy. Clockwise from top left: Bill Stott, Chichi Parish, Dave Brown, Rupert Besley, Rich Skipworth and Royston Robertson

After 11 years in charge, I felt this was time for a fresh hand on the tiller so I’ve decided to remove mine. Happily I have been able to hand over the chairmanship of the organising team to Rich Skipworth.

Apart from being a splendid cartoonist himself, Rich is a proven of organiser of cartooning events. I am sure he’ll do a grand job.

So, another enjoyable and popular festival has been and gone (but the exhibitions are still open) and the serious planning for next year gathers pace …

Success for Shrewsbury festival

April 30, 2014 in Events, General, News

Shrewsbury 2014: The music-themed festival was sponsored by Procartoonists.org

Shrewsbury 2014: The music-themed festival was sponsored by Procartoonists.org

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, which took place at the weekend, drew huge crowds and was deemed a success by all involved. And it has already been given a major boost for next year.

The Shropshire Star reports that the festival has just won a £2,000 grant for next year’s event. Every penny will count as this year major funding was cut, so the 2014 festival was run on a shoestring – with a little help from Procartoonists.org.

However, as the organisers predicted, the public would not have noticed as the festival was as lively and busy as ever.

Here is a video of the Big Boards that the Shropshire Star created:

And here are more photos of the event, taken by Kasia Kowalska, that show the breadth of activities that took place at this year’s festival.

Andrew Birch and Kate Charlesworth at work on their Big Boards, the most high-profile element of the festival. They're hard to miss.

Andrew Birch and Kate Charlesworth at work on their Big Boards. The most high-profile element of the cartoon festival, the boards are impossible to miss.

Rich Skipworth, who has taken over as festival chairman from Roger Penwill, adds colour to his board

Rich Skipworth, who is tasked with organising next year’s event having taken over as festival chairman from Roger Penwill , adds some colour to his board

For the music-themed festival Rosie Brooks set herself the task of illustrating the story of Wagner's Ring Cycle in a few hours

For the music-themed festival, Rosie Brooks set herself the task of illustrating the story of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in just a few hours

Daniel Kawczynski, Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury, is caricatured by Jonathan Cusick

Daniel Kawczynski, the Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury, is caricatured by Jonathan Cusick

Alex Hughes, steampunk caricaturist outfit was enough to, er, draw a crowd

Alex Hughes’s steampunk caricaturist outfit was enough to, er, draw a crowd

Harry Venning, creator of Clare in the Community did a talk that was part cartooning part stand-up comedy

Harry Venning, creator of Clare in the Community, as seen in The Guardian and heard on BBC Radio 4,  did a talk that was part cartooning part stand-up comedy

Wilbur Dawbarn hosted cartooning workshops for all ages, as did Cathy Simpson

Wilbur Dawbarn hosted cartooning workshops for all ages, as did Cathy Simpson and Tim Harries

The participating cartoonists were: Rupert Besley, Steve Best, Andrew Birch, Rosie Brooks, Dave Brown, Kate Charlesworth, Jonathan Cusick, Wilbur Dawbarn, Noel Ford, Alex Hughes, Tim Harries, Tim Leatherbarrow, Chichi Parish, Roger Penwill, Helen Pointer, John Roberts, Royston Robertson, Chris Ryder, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, Bill Stott, The Surreal McCoy, Harry Venning and Gerard Whyman.

Instant cartoons in the Square, handed out to the public for donations to the festival, were a feature this year. John Roberts draws Dizzy Gillespie

John Roberts draws Dizzy Gillespie. Instant cartoons drawn in the Square and handed out to the public for donations to the festival were a feature this year

Royston Robertson and Matt Buck add to the instant cartoons gallery

Royston Robertson and Matt Buck add to the instant cartoons gallery

Finally the Melodrawma is a great illustration of what makes the festival unique. A live comic-strip drawn to the accompaniment of narration, music and sound effects. The Melodrawma team this year was Andrew Birch, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill, Royston Robertson, Bill Stott and The Surreal McCoy.

Finally the Melodrawma is a great illustration of what makes the festival unique. It is a live comic-strip drawn to the accompaniment of narration, music, sound effects … and audience participation. The team this year was Andrew Birch, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill, Royston Robertson, Bill Stott and The Surreal McCoy.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Shrewsbury 2014: Where to start?

April 28, 2014 in Events, General, News

Dave Brown of The Independent at work

Dave Brown of The Independent at work

Our first report from this weekend’s Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival is a selection of photos by Mika Schick showing several of the cartoonists starting out on the Saturday morning.

Chichi Parish starts with a border ...

Chichi Parish begins with a border …

Rupert Besley starts from the corner

While Rupert Besley starts from the corner

Nice day for caricatures. Jonathan Cusick (front) and Tim Leatherbarrow in action

Nice day for caricatures. Jonathan Cusick (front) and Tim Leatherbarrow in action

You can rely on The Surreal McCoy for an interesting angle on things

You can rely on The Surreal McCoy for an interesting angle on things

Bill Stott gets his board covered in no time at all

Bill Stott gets his board covered in no time at all

We’ll have more pictures and words from Shrewsbury this week.

Cartoon festival this weekend

April 24, 2014 in Events, General, News

Cartoon © Malc McGookin

© Malc McGookin

The main Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival events take place this Saturday (though there is a workshop by PCO member Wilbur Dawbarn on Friday) and include live drawing in the town square, with the Big Boards, Humurals, the Melodrawma, caricaturing and reverse caricaturing, as well as talks and workshops.

Click those links to see pictures and videos of those events from previous years at the festival, which has been running since 2004.

Cartoon © Royston Robertson

© Royston Robertson

Here is our final selection of music-themed cartoons submitted for exhibition at this year’s event. These are by the Procartoonist.org members Malc McGookinRoyston Robertson and Bill Stott.

For a virtual cartoon exhibition, click here to see all the Shrewsbury music cartoons we have posted.

We’ll be back next week with a report and photos from Shrewsbury 2014.

Cartoon © Bill Stott

© Bill Stott

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by Royston

The Round-up

April 24, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Cartoon © Graeme Keyes

Cartoon © Graeme Keyes


The BBC has been looking at how political cartoonists in Northern Ireland coped with covering the Troubles. You can read the article and see an episode of BBC Northern Ireland’s The Arts Show (until 28 April) here.

Meanwhile, in the Republic of Ireland, The Irish Times has apologised for a cartoon about priests by Martyn Turner, calling it “an editorial lapse”. Read more about it and see the offending cartoon here. We ran a profile of Turner in February.

Gerald Scarfe is to judge submissions made by budding cartoonists and illustrators to the Noise Festival. The deadline is 31 May. You can read more on the Noise Festival here, and they have an interview with Scarfe, talking about what he will be looking for, here. Meanwhile, Scarfe has also been talking to The Big Issue.

The New Yorker is widely regarded as the home of sophisticated cartoons and is a hugely competitive market for cartoonists. But Ted Rall is not a fan and argues that it is, in fact, bad for cartooning.

poster_garfield

Famous cartoon characters from all over the world have gone bald, in an initiative in Brazil designed to send out the message that a child with cancer deserves to be seen just like any other child: Bald Cartoons.

Finally, you may have heard that British Pathé has put a large chunk of its archive online for free. This will, of course, mean there are some cartoon and comic-related gems, such as this film about the creation of Dan Dare.

Cartoon festival exhibition opens

April 18, 2014 in Events, General, News

Cartoon © Glenn Marshall

Cartoon © Glenn Marshall

The exhibition With a Song in My Art opens at the Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury today (21 April). This cartoon was submitted for the music-themed exhibition by the Procartoonists.org member Glenn Marshall.

The show is the first event in the 2014 Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival. The main Cartoonists Live day is this Saturday (26 April) and there’s plenty to see and do …

shrewsposter

Please click here to see all the Procartoonists portfolios.

An acquaintance to remember

April 17, 2014 in Events, General, News

The Auld Acquaintance show. Alex Salmond caricature © Bill Houston

The Auld Acquaintance show. Alex Salmond caricature © Bill Houston

This year is both the 15th anniversary of the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio and of political devolution in Scotland. We’ve organised a new touring exhibition entitled The Auld Acquaintance, taking our cue from Rabbie Burns’ Auld Lang Syne, sung whenever folk leave one chapter of their life behind and start another.

Our call for contributions attracted over 350 caricatures, editorial cartoons and strips by artists from around the world responding to the same question that will be put to Scots in a referendum this September: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Having whittled the pile down to a workable number, we’ve selected a balanced cross-section of opinion that reflects healthy scepticism as well as enthusiastic support for independence. There will be a number of showings around Europe in the year ahead. The first is taking place in Saint-Just-le-Martel, France’s own little capital du dessins.

Grasp the thistle! A cartoon by Steve Bright

Grasp the thistle! Steve Bright’s view

Steve Bell's take on Scottish independence

Steve Bell’s take on the subject

My colleague Tommy Sommerville and I travelled to the Espace Loup for a vernissage on 10 April. We found the work displayed sequentially according to its origin: Catalonia, Scotland, the rest of the UK, Québec and the wider world, with the studio team’s own contributions in the middle of the space.

Featured cartoonists include the PCO members Gary Barker, Steve Bell, Steve Bright, Chris Cairns, Andy Davey and Malc McGookin. The locals added whimsical touches including a “Nessie” monster made by the village’s school children.

Also present and correct was the perennial mascot of Saint-Just and its annual Salon International, the Limousin cow. 

AA-France-70

The Auld Acquaintance, at Espace Loup, Centre International de la Caricature, du Dessin de Presse et d’Humour, Saint-Just-le-Martel, will run until 14 August. There will be further showings around Europe to be announced in the coming months.

The Round-up

April 15, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Gerald Scarfe and drawings from Scarfe's Bar courtesy of and © The Spectator

Gerald Scarfe and drawings from Scarfe’s Bar © The Spectator

Kasia Kowalska and Royston Robertson write:

Cartoonists and alcohol are often linked, and now one of the UK’s best known political cartoonists, Gerald Scarfe, has a bar named after him at the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn, London. The Spectator has more and the Telegraph has a video in which the cartoonist talks about the drawings on the walls.

Congratulations go to Peter Brookes of The Times, who was named cartoonist of the year at the British Press Awards. In the US, of course, they give cartoonists the Pulitzer Prize. You can watch Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer honoured by work colleagues here.

Private Eye cartoonist and Procartoonists.org member Tony Husband has recently been out and about, taking cartooning to the people.

A dog is a man’s best friend and William Hogarth‘s was a pug. Lars Tharp reveals the 18th century artist’s obsession with his four-legged companion in conversation with Clare Barlow, the National Portrait Gallery’s assistant curator.

Hot on the heels of The New Yorker’s cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, who is tirelessly promoting his memoir (including here and hereRoz Chast of the magazine also has an autobiographical book out, called Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?

For those eager to embrace new technology, a team of designers has developed a 3D sketching tool called Gravity. It is designed for sketching in “immersive augmented reality”, apparently, and you won’t need a computer to use it.

Phoenix Children's Comic Festival poster

Phoenix Children’s Comic Festival. Click to enlarge

The second Phoenix Children’s Comic Festival will take place at the Story Museum in Oxford in May. Among the guests will be Jamie Smart and Matt Baker from the comic. Meanwhile, DownTheTubes.net wonders whether comics are made for children any more, or are they being made for adults?

Ever wondered why cartoon characters on cereal boxes always have a similar expression? The Daily Mail reports that, according to a Cornell study, they always stare downwards to appeal directly to young children in supermarkets.

Hayao Miyazaki, the acclaimed animator and founder of Studio Ghibli, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, is to retire. The BFI is running a Studio Ghibli retrospective throughout April and May. Miyazaki is also one of the nominees at the Reuben Awards for his latest film The Wind Rises.

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by Royston

Cartoonist does the maths

April 10, 2014 in General, News

From Alex Through the Looking Glass © The Surreal McCoy

From Alex Through the Looking Glass © The Surreal McCoy

Procartoonists.org member The Surreal McCoy has drawn cartoons for a new book that claims, among many other things, to reveal the world’s favourite number.

Alex Through The Looking Glass, by the mathematician Alex Bellos, was featured on Radio 4′s Today programme on Tuesday: listen to John Humphrys struggling with the maths here (at 2hrs 55mins).

The book is published today by Bloomsbury. Oh, and the number is revealed here.

Click here to see all the Procartoonists portfolios.

The Round-up

April 2, 2014 in Events, General, Links, News

Kasia Kowalska and Royston Robertson write:

The documentary Stripped, which covers the past, present and future of comic strips, looking at how they are affected by the digital age, has been released on iTunes. The Kickstarter-funded film certainly seems to have spoken to alll the major players.

There’s more at boingboing.net, which gives it a thumbs up. And the creators of the film discuss the survival of strips in a Q&A here.

With the First World war very much in the news, as its centenary approaches, the Daily Mirror looks at some of its satirical cartoons from the time. Meanwhile, a group of comics artists have published an anthology of stories to take on Michael Gove’s “jingoistic” view of the war.

Is laughter the best medicine? Researchers at the University of Southampton have used the work of Procartoonists.org member Fran Orford to show that cartoons can be beneficial in helping people to cope with long-term conditions.

The cartoonist and illustrator Bob Dewar has never sought the limelight, but The Scotsman says that a new exhibition of his work could change that.

Remember the animated Charley Says public-information films from the 1970s? They’re back, with comedian David Walliams doing the voiceover.

Excerpt from the strip that spawned the "Bechdel Test" © Alison Bechdel.

Excerpt from the strip that spawned the “Bechdel Test”. Click to enlarge

Alison Bechdel, the acclaimed creator of Fun Home and Dykes To Watch Out For, talks about creating women characters as subjects and not objects, in an interview with Sabine Brix. The above strip from 1985 spawned the Bechdel Test, which is now used by film academics to assess the roles of women in films.

Protesters in Turkey responded with cartoons when their government recently blocked access to YouTube and Twitter in the build up to the national elections on 30 March. But doubts remain over the future of the free press there, as Nicholas Clayton explains.

Two video lectures for you: the Iranian cartoonist Kianoush Ramezani on “Cartooning, the art of danger” and Mike Luckovich of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who says there is more to cartooning than meets the eye.

Finally, regular readers will know that the theme of this year’s Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival is music but can everyone name that (cartoon) tune? Try your luck and listen to the musicians at Carnegie Hall who played 43 different cartoon themes in under five minutes.