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Thinking big at mini cartoon festival

September 2, 2014 in Events, General, News

Rog Bowles caricatures the public at the Southport Mini Cartoon Festival

Rog Bowles caricatures the public at the Southport Mini Cartoon Festival

Paul Hardman reports on the first Southport Mini Cartoon Festival, which took place on the August bank holiday weekend and was arranged at the very last moment, with little or no budget or publicity

I have for many years thought that my now-hometown of Southport in the North West of England would be an ideal location for a cartoon festival.

I was approached by Brendan Riley, a comedian and friend, and he put me in contact with Tony Wynne, our local arts project manager, who had been asked by the council to put on the Southport Festival of Art as part of an event to promote a regeneration funding bid.

Tony wanted to know if I could come up with something at very short notice and with a very limited budget. My response was to call on some of my old friends and a tried-and-tested formula. A hasty budget and plan was arrived at and it was decided to have a big-board event in the centre of town.

Pete Dredge works on a big board cartoon at Southport. You can see Bill Stott and Rich Skipworth hard at work too

Pete Dredge draws a big board cartoon. You can see Bill Stott and Rich Skipworth hard at work too

I was delighted when Noel Ford, Bill Stott, Pete Dredge and Rich Skipworth immediately jumped at the chance to come up and draw a big board here in Southport. I then asked Rog Bowles and Tim Leatherbarrow to assist with the arduous task of caricaturing the public.

The two-day event proved to be a success and the lads delighted the crowds, who stopped in their hundreds to enjoy the skill on show. Bill, Peter, Noel and Rich produced eight magnificent boards, which were all on display by the second day.

There was also an impromptu gallery of A3 gag cartoons, which hung alongside brief biographies of the cartoonists.

Southport Mini Cartoon Festival

Sunny weather ensured a great turnout for the Southport Mini Cartoon Festival

The weather was very kind to us and the visual impact in the town centre was nothing short of spectacular. Far more successful than I could ever have hoped for and I know each of the team was delighted with their stay.

This is hopefully a foot in the door and the beginning of a regular event for our cartoonists’ community. Here’s to the next successful year.

Many thanks to Paul and we echo that last thought.

A little on the surreal side

July 22, 2014 in Events, General, News

"Looks like that Duchamp feller is back." © Bill Stott

“I see that Duchamp bloke’s back …” © Bill Stott

Here are some cartoons submitted by Procartoonists.org members for the Cartoonists Beside the Surrealside exhibition which can be seen at Beach Creative in Herne Bay later this month.

The exhibition at the gallery in Beach Street has already been extended. It will now run from Wednesday 30 July until Tuesday 12 August. Opening hours 10am-5pm.

"I met that Luis Suarez once." © Gerard Whyman

“I met that Luis Suarez once …” © Gerard Whyman

The artists themselves will descend on Herne Bay for a day of live drawing at the Bandstand on the sea front, from midday until 5pm on Sunday 3 August.

Many were involved in the live cartooning event last year, which was part of a larger festival celebrating the centenary of Marcel Duchamp’s visit to Herne Bay. This year’s stand-alone cartooning event retains that art/surrealism link and, like last year’s, is organised by the PCO’s own Nathan Ariss along with the Beach Creative team. The event is supported by Arts Council England.

© Jeremy Banx

© Jeremy Banx

We have our fingers crossed for more excellent weather and another sunny, and very funny, day at the Surrealside …

The Round-up

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

Noel Ford cartoon

© Noel Ford

Kasia Kowalska and Royston Robertson write:

Cartoonists including the PCO members Bill Stott and Noel Ford, above, are involved in the first Southport Festival of ArtMore on that here.

An exhibition of Tony Husband’s Private Eye cartoons is on display at The Swan in Dobcross as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival until the end of July.

What a week for Marvel, which hit the headlines by showing that it is not afraid of change, announcing future comics in which Thor becomes a woman (but don’t dare call her Thora!) and Captain America will be black

The Guardian reports on the response to the conflict in Gaza by cartoonists in the Arab nations, in particular on the lack of action to from their governments.

A death sentence has been pronounced via Twitter for the Kuwati-born comic-book artist Naif Al-Mutawa by the Islamist militant group Isis. Meanwhile, in the UK, a former Islamist extremist has created a series of cartoons aimed at young British Muslims, titled Abdullah-X, writes Jack Simpson in The Independent.

In the US, Bob Mankoff talks about his cartoon editing role at The New Yorker and why it may just be the best job in the world in this interview with Survey MonkeyGarry Trudeau talks to the LA Times about how working on his Doonesbury strip helped him to prepare for his new TV series Alpha House.

Bob Moran exhibition

© Bob Moran

Bob Moran has an exhibition of cartoons drawn for the Telegraph in his hometown of Petersfield, Hampshire (details above). “This exhibition is generating a lot of hype,” he says on Twitter, “with local people describing it as ‘happening’ and ‘something to do’.”

Dozens of insightful musings about making comics and cartoons have been published by Michael Cavna of The Washington Post in celebration of the 6th birthday of his Comic Riffs column. The art of cartooning is no laughing matter,  according to this article about a new exhibition on Martha’s Vineyard in the US.

This week also marks the 81st anniversary of the first film appearance of Popeye. Greg Belfrage provides insight (and several episodes) here. Meawhile, remembering Mel Blanc, who died 25 years ago this month, the Express offers  up “Top 10 facts about cartoons”.

Finally, these are very clever and great fun: 15 household objects transformed Into cartoon characters by the French artist Gilbert Legrand.

Exhibition: Pastiche, Parody and Piracy

June 12, 2014 in Events, General, News

Steve Bell: "I licence the logo bearers ..."

Steve Bell: “I licence the logo bearers …”

Many PCO members feature in an exhibition that brings together cartoonists and contemporary artists called Pastiche, Parody and Piracy and opens at the Cob Gallery in north London on 20 June.

The exhibition was put together by the the curator Camilla Ellingsen Webster with artist Miriam Elia and cartoonist Jeremy Banx, with the aim of showing the importance of the “appropriation” of images made by others in art and satire.

The team say that they were inspired to “celebrate the historical creative act of pastiche, parody and piracy” after Penguin UK threatened to pulp Elia’s book We Go to the Gallery, a parody of the Ladybird series of children’s books.

Alongside Banx, the PCO members involved are: Nathan Ariss, Steve Bell, Andrew Birch, Matt Buck, Wilbur Dawbarn, Pete Dredge, Noel Ford, Steve Jones, Kathryn Lamb, Chris Madden, Glenn Marshall, Alexander Matthews, Jonathan Pugh, Ken Pyne, Royston Robertson, Martin Rowson, Cathy Simpson, Bill Stott, The Surreal McCoy and Mike Turner.

Wilbur Dawbarn plays with Dance by Matisse

Wilbur Dawbarn plays with Matisse’s Dance

As well as cartoons, this exhibition will feature projections, photographs, prints and collage that use or pastiche other works of art, characters and logos.

The use of other works – though it has long been a tool in art – can be a controversial issue, particularly as those works are often copyrighted. The exhibition has already stirred up debate within in the PCO, with some members refusing to take part.

The gallery says: “The pieces in this exhibition play with other people’s ideas and pre-existing works to showcase a selection of contemporary appropriation in art that is often mischievous, somewhat humorous, and often unsettling. It plays with what the viewer might be comfortable with and questions ideas of authorship and originality.”

The title for this exhibition was inspired by a proposed exception for parody, satire and pastiche in a government copyright law. If it is passed, the act of subverting and appropriating elements of popular culture will be protected from large companies that often seek to silence artists through the courts.

Chris Madden takes on the House of Mouse

Chris Madden takes on the House of Mouse

“We believe this is crucial for the future of appropriative art and satire, and although the law has been delayed, we are putting on this exhibition to celebrate artists, satirists and cartoonists who are paving the way,” say the organisers.

Pastiche, Parody and Piracy: Exploring Different Approaches in Contemporary Art Appropriation is at The Cob Gallery, London NW1 from 20 June – 5 July. For more, email info@cobgallery.com or call 020-7209 9110

Opinion: The curse of Management

June 9, 2014 in Comment, General

Bill Stott from Punch magazine: "Be positive! At least  now we know that being able to fly has got noting to do with having a pointy head"

Bill Stott from Punch: “Be positive! At least now we know that being able to fly has got nothing to do with having a pointy head!” Click image to enlarge

In a somewhat acrimonious departure, Richard Ingrams has resigned as editor of The Oldie. In this opinion piece, Bill Stott sees echoes from the latter days of Punch magazine and hopes that cartoonists will not see history repeat itself.

Whilst it might sound uncomfortably like a medical examination, there’s interesting stuff coming out of The Oldie right now. Quite a bit of bile. The departure of the multi-faceted, sometimes contradictory Richard Ingrams will be a huge loss, not only to The Oldie, but to gag cartooning in the UK.

Logically, bearing in mind the fact that his team apparently liked and respected him, the job should go to one of them and a cartoon-friendly status quo will spread a warm glow throughout Humourland. However, given James Pembroke’s apparent management style and his grasp of the purse strings, that may well not happen.

The Oldie’s predicament reminds me of the beginning of the end for Punch, a magazine strong on cartoons and humour but which never made a profit in its 500-year existence, unlike The Oldie which has loads of readers and does make a profit.

The similarity lies with “management”. Alan Coren, probably one of the best Punch editors, fell out with those who bought the mag and got sacked. He was locked out of his office, in fact.

After a few false starts, a new bought-in editor was presented to a restaurant full of cartoonists in thatLondon. He foolishly delayed them from getting at the free food and drink by climbing on to a rostrum to tell all hands about his vision for the new Punch. I seem to remember the sixth-form market being mentioned. Honest!

The new ed was apparently a very good manager. Quite soon after his appointment, which was made despite the existence of excellent candidates already on board, Punch ceased to be.

Could this happen to The Oldie?

Thanks Bill. We hope the answer to your last question is no! We will continue to follow developments at The Oldie, noting for starters that Mr Ingrams appears to have influential friends

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

Festival details released

March 6, 2014 in Events, General, News

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

Barry the Shrew, the festival mascot, tunes up © Roger Penwill

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival takes place next month and more details of the events have been released. 

These include the title of the music-themed exhibition: With a Song in My Art – we are featuring cartoons submitted for the exhibition – and details on the live drawing events and workshops on creating strips,  mini-comics and, er, farting musical instruments. There’s also a talk by the Clare in the Community creator Harry Venning.

Head over to events page of the official festival website for more.

There’s even a fringe exhibition. Artists in Shropshire are invited to take part in a cartoon competition organised by the VAN Gallery to coincide with the festival.

The participating cartoonists are: 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.

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival

Happy members of the public at Shrewsbury Cartoon festival @ Procartoonists.org

The writer and broadcaster Libby Purves, a patron of the festival as well as of Procartoonists.org, will also be attending.