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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.

Profile photo 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.