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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.

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.

The Round-up

June 30, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

Above: Michael Chaney, associate professor of English at Dartmouth College, on how to read a graphic novel.

The Cartoon Cafe is now up and running in Eastbourne, following a successful opening earlier this month. Established and run by Timothy Benson, the cartoon historian and author, the venue is open seven days a week, combines a gallery space and coffee shop, and will be showing a wide variety of political cartoons. Click here for more details, and follow this link to read some local coverage from earlier in the year.

It’s About Time, the selling exhibition of original cartoon artwork and high-quality prints that was first shown as part of this year’s Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival is now going on tour.

First stop will be Ludlow Assembly Rooms from 1-28 July. Roger Penwill, Shrewsbury festival chairman and a member of Procartoonists.org, will be giving a talk there from 7pm on 12 July. Entitled The World of Cartoons, Roger describes it as “an illustrated talk recounting my experiences of cartoon events and cartoonists outside the UK”. You can find out more and book your place (for a very reasonable fiver) by following this link. The exhibition will later travel to Wem Town Hall from 1 August until 30 September.

The latest Asterix adventure will see our plucky Gallic hero visiting these shores for the second time when he arrives in Scotland in October. Read more via the BBC. We say the Gaul’s chosen destination is highly appropriate.

Staying north of the border, Frank Boyle, cartoonist for the Edinburgh Evening News, has an exhibition running at present. Click here for more details.

Downthetubes.net draws our attention to The Oink! Blog, set up earlier this year by a fan of the anarchic 1980s comic that was co-created by Procartoonists member Tony Husband.

And finally, big names from the world of comics, among them Joe Sacco and Chris Ware, will be appearing at Stripped, a strand of events at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. Read more here.

 

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by Royston

Heritage exhibition: Just like that!

October 31, 2012 in Events, General, News

Tommy Cooper by John Roberts

Tommy Cooper © John Roberts

An exhibition of cartoons and caricatures by Procartoonists.org members Bill Stott, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill and John Roberts is being held at the Heritage Centre in Knutsford, Cheshire, from 6 November until 22 December.

The Cartoon Collective show is very loosely based on the theme of “heritage” and will include a collection of cartoons on imaginary old motorcycles by Roger and a series of caricatures of British comedians by John, such as Charlie Chaplin and Tommy Cooper, right.

Noel is selling some of his Punch original cartoons while displaying a couple of original full-colour Punch covers and the first two gags he sold to the magazine.

A preview evening will be held on 6 November, at which John will be drawing some live caricatures and Bill will be doing a “stand-up cartoonist” routine. For details, visit knutsfordheritage.co.uk, email info@knutsfordheritage.co.uk or call 01565-652 854.

Entente cordiale at St Just festival

October 22, 2012 in Events, News

The Surreal McCoy reports on the recent St Just Cartoon Festival

Spotlights on the Brits exhibition

Nathan Ariss salutes the Spotlights on the Brits exhibition, and an Olympics cartoon from the show by © Roger Penwill @ Procartoonists.org

Entente cordiale. Sounds like something you find on the shelf alongside the bottles of elderflower and blackcurrant flavours right? Wrong.

Actually, the final weekend of the St Just Cartoon Festival, near Limoges in France, was full of such friendly understanding, with 100-plus cartoonists and caricaturists mingling with each other and the general public with great bonhomie.

I was attending as the European liaison officer for Procartoonists.org, along with chairman Nathan Ariss, to represent UK cartoonists, most of them members of our organisation, whose work was being exhibited as Spotlights on the Brits.

The St Just committee had asked for cartoons on the themes of the Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympics. Our members duly responded with a wide variety of caricatures and cartoons that were prominently displayed in the purpose-built exhibition hall.

Billeted with local familes for the weekend, we were treated with great hospitality. Food and drink was plentiful, long tables were the order of the day. There was much to see on the walls, from the Cartooning For Peace display on elections around the world to the extraordinary rat paintings.

Manu at work

The cartoonist Manu draws for the crowds at St Just @ Procartoonists.org

Cartoonists set up shop with their books and comics for sale on the big round tables. Visitors were caricatured and cartooned, business cards exchanged, contacts made.

The American editorial cartoonists Daryl Cagle (Cagle Post Syndication) and Eric Allie gave a presentation on the state of political cartooning in the US.

On the Saturday afternoon, a brown carpet was rolled out and more mystifying visitor arrived. The area is famous for its Limousin cows so the festival was being honoured with a visit from one of them. It was not, as we had initially thought, the French penchant for a Surrealist installation.

The St Just cow

The St Just cow. Not a Surrealist installation @ Procartoonists.org

The cow also doubled up as a prize for cartooning achievement – this year it went to the French cartoonist Aurel. (Apparently it’s the same cow every year, which would explain why she was completely unfazed by the paparazzi’s flash bulbs.)

Sunday morning saw a large assembly of cartoonists crammed into the local priest’s drawing room for the traditional drinks party he hosts each year. We all spilled out into the courtyard in front of the 12th century church in a pastis-induced blur of congeniality before boarding the special cartoonists’ carriage of the Paris train.

A little knowledge of French can get you a long way, mais oui!

Festival shines on despite the rain

April 25, 2012 in Events, General

The Melodrawma

Roger Penwill hosts the Melodrawma at Shrewsbury, with musical accompaniment from The Surreal McCoy

Procartoonists.org member Roger Penwillone of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival organisers, writes:

For the first time in nine years, the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival had April weather in April. However this did not deter the crowds who came to enjoy this year’s Cartoonists Live events in the town.

More than 30 of the country’s top cartoonists, plus artists from France, Holland and Australia, were there to draw live for the public, on this year’s theme of Flying.

There were large (2.4m x 2m) Big Board cartoons painted live in the square; workshops for budding cartoonist of all ages; talks and cartooning advice clinics. Caricaturists drew caricatures for free and you could have your body drawn, rather than your head, at the Reverse Caricaturing stand.

Shrewsbury’s unique Melodrawma was performed: a comic strip drawn by 3 cartoonists to live narration and musical accompaniment. Once again Reader’s Digest was in The Square running its popular Beat the Cartoonist exhibition.

Reader's Digest display

The rain gets the better of the Reader's Digest display

There was a new venue for the festival this year, the New Market Hall, close to the Square. This is home to the Visual Arts Network Gallery, which played host to Flights of Fancy, the main festival exhibition of nearly 100 cartoons.

Thanks to a grant from the Arts Council, this exhibition will also go on tour this summer to the Qube at Oswestry, Wem Town Hall and RAF Museum Cosford (more details here).

The New Market Hall was also the venue for the annual instant exhibition of quickly drawn cartoons. Theatre Severn has an exhibition by French cartoonists, called French Flies, which runs until mid-July.

Shops around the town supported the event by displaying cartoons in their windows to form the S-mile High Trail, meandering around the town and linking the various festival venues.

It all added up to another successful event, and plans are underway for the 10th Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival in April next year.

Photos by Maria Harvey and Royston Robertson.

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by Royston

Foghorn magazine – Issue 51

June 28, 2011 in Comment, News

Foghorn issue 51

Summer is here and our thoughts turn to holidays, so the latest issue of Foghorn, the magazine of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, looks at the behaviour of the British abroad. The cover is by the PCO’s Robert Duncan. The magazine is available to subscribers for the annual price of £20 for six full colour issues.

What’s inside?

Roger Penwill on on a travel adventure worthy of Samuel Beckett.
Rupert Besley on the holidays of his youth, when anything foreign was the subject of deep mistrust.
Clive Goddard on America, and how it is really rather big.
Clive Collins on the freelancer’s fear of taking time off.
And you’ll find a full page of cartoons by Andrew Birch.

Plus lots more: the Critic, the Foghorn Guide, the Potting Shed … and several straining suitcases packed with funny cartoons about what we did on our holidays.

You can read older issues of Foghorn online here, right up to our most recent issue.

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Foghorn magazine – Issue 49

March 4, 2011 in News

Spring has nearly sprung and so has the latest issue of Foghorn, the cartoon magazine of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation. In keeping with this issue’s musical theme, the magazine features an operatic cover by PCO’s Chichi Parish and is available to subscribers for the very merry annual price of £20 for six full colour issues.

What’s inside?

Noel Ford reminisces about his time as a guitarist in the Stormbreakers
Fellow guitarist Roger Penwill tells of  his love for the instrument
Tim Harries has a less than relaxing spa break
John Jensen gives us his musical memories
And you’ll find a full page of cartoons by the Surreal McCoy!

Plus…

…all the regular features - Buildings in the Fog, The Critic, The Foghorn Guide to…, The Potting Shed, Andy Davey‘s ‘Foggy’ strip and many more random acts of humour crammed in wherever we could find room.

You can read older issues of Foghorn online here, right up to our most recent issue.

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From Herriman to Holte: Another ten great cartoonists

January 19, 2011 in Comment

The cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has made a list of his ten favourite cartoonists, for the Daily Mail website. It includes some inarguable choices as well as some surprising ones.

Ronald Searle, widely regarded as Britain’s best living cartoonist, is on there. There are also choices from the worlds of fine art, such as Picasso, and film-making, which is represented by Walt Disney, more for his skill at getting great work from others than his own drawing talents.

We asked members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, which runs the Bloghorn, to name their favourite cartoonists not on the Scarfe list. It’s not a poll, or a “top ten”, just an informal list of another ten great artists, and it shows the wealth of variety and creativity to be found in the world of cartooning.

Hector Breeze cartoon

1. Hector Breeze (Born 1928). Picked by Pete Dredge: “A master of the pocket cartoon. Out of the mouths of his mundane, benign, chunkily drawn characters comes the sharpest of captions.”

Robert Crumb cartoon

2. Robert Crumb (Born 1943). Picked by Royston Robertson: “He has been satirising the way we live since the 1960s with his dense, inky, cross-hatched drawings, displaying human folly in all its gory glory. Not for nothing was he described by the art critics Robert Hughes as ‘the Bruegel of the last half of the 20th century’.”

George Grosz painting

3. George Grosz (1893-1959). Picked by Matt Buck and Andrew Birch (both blatantly ignoring the brief of people not on Scarfe’s list, Bloghorn notes!) Matt says: “Grosz drew with an unsparing eye and produced powerful reflections of what people do rather than what they say they do.” Andrew adds: “For me German Expressionism was one of the most important art movements of the 20th century, whose brutal and honest line laid the foundation for many later cartoonists like Steadman.”

Heath Robinson cartoon

4. William Heath Robinson (1872-1944). Picked by Rupert Besley: “He was an original, creating a wonderful, instantly recognisable world of his own. He satirised the growth of mechanisation, but did so in a gloriously enjoyable way that always kept the human at the centre of it all. Which other cartoonist has added his name to the language and booked his place in every dictionary?”

George Herriman cartoon

5. George Herriman (1880-1944). Picked by Wilbur Dawbarn: “From the gorgeously scratchy line work and absolute poetry of the writing in the early years, to the sheer majesty of composition in the latter years, Herriman’s Sunday Krazy Kat pages are, to my mind, some of the finest examples of comic art ever penned.”

Holte cartoon

6. Trevor Holder, aka “Holte” (Born 1941). Picked by Roger Penwill: “Glorious technique, a master of expressive line and a very funny, wicked sense of humour. Some of his cartoons are timeless classics.”

Kliban cartoon

7. Bernard Kliban (1935-1990). Picked by Chris Madden: “I came across a book by B. Kliban: Cat Dreams. I’m not sure what they’re about. I’m not even sure if they’re funny (do cartoons actually have to be funny?) But they’re brilliant. Apparently he grew to detest drawing cats in the end, but they were what everybody wanted. Beware success.”

David Law cartoon

8. David Law (1908-1971). Picked by Steve Bright: “Beautifully fluid and loose line, amazing perspectives and angles, and the master of life and motion in all that he drew. Law inspired millions of kids to pick up a pencil through his marvellous work in the Beano, Dandy and Topper.”

Phil May cartoon

9. Phil May (1864-1903). Picked by Mike Turner: “A breakthrough in culling captions down to a minimum. Great art, brilliant caricatures, sheer good humour relating to ‘the man in the street’ or the ‘man on the horse-drawn omnibus’

Bill Tidy cartoon

10. Bill Tidy (Born 1933). Picked by Bill Stott: “For his excellent gags and consummate drawing, especially in his history-based stuff.”

What do you think of the list? Got a favourite cartoonist you’d like to add to it? Let us know in the comments below.