You are browsing the archive for 2016 April.

by Jonesy

Shrewsbury 2016: On the coldest of days, a cartoon festival that warmed the hearts of many

April 21, 2016 in General


The author braves the cold for the greater good PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

Steve Bright writes:

I arrived in Shrewsbury on Saturday morning with mild trepidation. It was my first Big Board duty in several years, and as a fully digital cartoonist these days, a little rusty when it comes to pen on paper, far less 8′ x 4′ canvas, slung over huge boards hinged in couples, and dotted throughout the splendour of The Square in the heart of Shrewsbury. As it turned out, rust was not the problem – an Arctic day in April put all other problems in the shade, as we all valiantly battled probably the coldest festival in its 13-year history. The digital artisans among us are well used to working in layers these days, but that doesn’t usually extend to a body-warmer, two t-shirts and a pair of long johns. It was bitter, but we all got there in the end, thanks to the sunny disposition of our hosts, helpers, and visitors in abundance, undeterred by the meagre degrees Celsius. And we were actually lucky (in keeping with the theme for this year’s event) apparently – the forecast had been snow, and indeed there were reports of some falling in the earlier hours of that morning.


Clive Goddard’s magnificent Big Board contribution PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

But rewind. The festival was all kicked off the night before, with a private viewing of this year’s selling exhibition at the Bear Steps gallery, which incorporated the official opening speeches from the Deputy Mayor, followed by retiring (though not in a shy way) festival Chairman, Rich Skipworth, who managed to convey a mixture of caution about the festival’s future as public funding diminishes, with real optimism that it may yet flourish beyond all previous incarnations, through grants and private initiatives. Fingers crossed!

This was followed by a real treat for all who made the short walk down to The Lion Hotel to enjoy Shrewsbury débutante Tony Husband’s deeply poignant illustrated talk, guiding us through his highly-acclaimed book, ‘Take Care, Son’, chronicling his father’s dementia with great warmth, wit, and obvious love.

From there, a splendid late evening gathering at the Shiraz, for those who had managed to stave off their hunger until darkness, followed no doubt by the odd nightcap or two back at the hotel before bedtime (or in my case, a quick drive home for a couple of hours’ kip before heading back in the following morning).


Pens across the ocean: American cartoonist Hilary Price PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

The Saturday 9a.m. briefing was the traditional signal for the ‘serious’ work to begin. Friends old and new assembled to brace ourselves for the cold and the rigours of our allotted tasks, before dispersing around the town to dispense our customary assorted forms of cartoon magic upon the hordes. It all went typically splendidly from there, by all accounts. Caricatures were drawn in abundance, the snow-blinding whiteness of the Big Boards gradually metamorphosed into wonderful expanses of colour and wit. Talks were delivered and workshops eagerly attended by young aspiring cartoonists being helped and encouraged onto the first rungs of the ladder leading to (hopefully) future official festival invitations. There was cartoon ‘busking’, cartoon exhibitions, digital and traditional opportunities for the general public to try their own hands at cartooning, and of course, it was all weaved together by the S-mile trail wending its way through the picturesque Shrewsbury streets, with cartoon treats at every turn. As always, the hard-working organisers and their team of helpers had laid on a veritable cornucopia of cartooning for all, to enjoy, and we were rewarded with the wide smiles and laughter of the visiting public in return. Our thanks, as always, go to those unsung heroes who made it all possible whilst we got most of the plaudits. And the musicians – mustn’t forget them. The temperature in The Square appeared to rise a couple of degrees as soon as they struck up the first of many songs that kept us going throughout the day.


Noel Ford’s masterpiece in pastels PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

The evening meal at The Peach Tree had us donning our glad rags (in my own case, getting my kilt out of its mothballs), and relaxing with friends, old and new. Internationally, Hillary Price made her début from the USA, whilst Dean Alston once again swam all the way from Perth, Australia as he has done for most of the 13 festivals so far. And then there was Terry Anderson, all the way from Paisley…

Many old friends and colleagues were missed, toasted, and talked about, and will hopefully return to future festivals. The intention is that if all goes well with future funding, the festival can be restored to a full two-day event, and the number of invited participating cartoonists can once again be increased. Again, fingers crossed!


First time Big Boarder Chris Williams (aka ‘Dink’) PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

And perhaps the signs are good, if you believe in omens; our traditional ukulele-led sing song at The Lion, that melodiously took us from Saturday night into the wee small hours of Sunday morning, ended with those of us who went the distance being treated to the most lovely surprise from a group of around 30 young people, still up and enjoying the Lion’s hospitality in the adjoining lounge area. Having heard us through the adjoining doors, they asked us to play them a couple of Beatles numbers before we called it a night. It turned out they were the European Union Chamber Orchestra, unwinding from a concert in Shrewsbury that day before heading for Llandudno in the morning for their next gig. They made their appreciation known for our musical efforts, before enriching the very air around us with their truly magnificent harmonies, as our jaws hit the floor. A wonderfully surreal ending to another cracking festival, from voices like Angels…

by Royston

Remembering the cartoonists’ cartoonist

April 14, 2016 in Events, General, News

Honeysett Roundtable

Royston Robertson writes about taking part in a tribute to the late Martin Honeysett at the Cartoon Museum in London:

Martin Honeysett is described by Bill Stott as “the cartoonists’ cartoonist” in a foreword to the excellent A Taste of Honeysett book that accompanies the current Cartoon Museum exhibition. So it was fitting that a bunch of his fellow inkslingers got together this week to pay tribute to him.

The event was organised to tie in with the last week of exhibition, a career overview of the work of Honeysett, who died very suddenly after a short illness in January 2015.

I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the roundtable discussion along with Ken Pyne, Jeremy Banks and Nick Newman.

Charles Peattie, who draws the Telegraph strip Alex and Celeb for Private Eye, and had come as an audience member, was also persuaded to take part and share his appreciation of Honeysett. The museum was actually spoilt for choice as a sizeable number of the audience at the well-attended event were fellow scribblers, proving the truth of the cartoonists’ cartoonist tag.

Honeysett cartoon

“God knows what they teach them on those Government Retraining schemes.”

For an hour we discussed the unique art of Honeysett, a genuine one-off in the world of cartooning whose work is often seen as cruel or brutal but is, we all agreed, essentially truthful. And very funny, of course.

We also shared memories of Honeysett himself. Ken Pyne told a story involving Martin, the cartoonist Michael ffolkes, and a very large cake. Ffolkes, and the cake, came off worst. Nick Newman shared a cartoon Martin drew of the three Private Eye editors at the magazine’s 50th birthday party, which can be seen here.

The floor was then opened to the audience and many favourite cartoons were discussed.

All in all, a fitting tribute to Honeysett, who is sadly missed not just for his cartoons but for his good company. The cartoonists retired to pub next door, happy in the knowledge that had Martin been there he would have been utterly embarrassed about the whole thing.

A Taste of Honeysett runs until Saturday 16 April

Martin Honeysett at the 2014 Herne Bay Cartoon Festival

The cartoonists’ cartoonist: Martin Honeysett, summer 2014

From the dusty PCO blog archive, here are a couple of articles written by Martin Honeysett:

Teaching cartooning in Japan
If you are Oldie enough …


by Jonesy

There’s still time to catch cartoon exhibition ‘Humour Show at Nunnington Hall’

April 12, 2016 in General

MWC0010 Sir Walter's vending machine

© Mike Williams

Chris Beetles Gallery returns to National Trust venue

Some of Britain’s greatest cartoonists’ work can be viewed at the National Trust’s beautiful Nunnington Hall, near York, until 24th April 2016.


Nunnington Hall

The Chris Beetles Gallery exhibition is a celebration of the best these isles have to offer, with work by cartooning luminaries such as PCO members Andy Davey, Mike Williams and chairman Bill Stott framed alongside Matt (Matthew Pritchett), Ed McLachlan, Tony Husband, Glenn Baxter and many more.


© Glenn Baxter


© Bill Stott


© Andy Davey

The Humour Show at Nunnington Hall, near York, Yorkshire YO62 5UY runs until Sunday 24th April 2016.

Discover more about ‘The Humour Show at Nunnington Hall’ by visiting The Chris Beetles Gallery website.

You can find directions to Nunnington Hall on The National Trust website.



by Jonesy

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2016

April 10, 2016 in General


‘The Square’ © Wilbur Dawbarn

Genteel, historic Shrewsbury is about to be invaded by hordes of cartoonists and cartoon lovers, with both parties looking forward to lots of mayhem and laughter – and not a little learning too, with workshops and talks also being provided.

Now coming up to its 13th year, The Shrewsbury  Cartoon Festival is an annual event at which professional cartoonists from all over the UK and overseas come together to draw and paint cartoons and caricatures for the general public. You won’t be surprised to learn that cartoonists are an amiable breed and more than happy to engage in conversation – some will even chat as they work, although the question “Where do you get your ideas?” might be best avoided…


‘Melodrawma” © Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

The event draws a huge audience every year with its centrepiece being the live drawing of about 15 enormous cartoons in Shrewsbury Town Square, along with live caricaturing by some of the UK’s top professionals.


Private Eye cartoonist Andrew Birch takes a break from TV script writing (see previous Blog article) to draw a ‘Big Board’

Here are just a few more examples of what visitors to this year’s festival can see and do:


Aspiring cartoonists can flourish under the expert tutelage of the likes of Tim Harries and Harry Venning.


Cartooning has its serious side too, as Cartoon Rights Network International’s Terry Anderson will clearly demonstrate in a talk about the threats to life and liberty faced by cartoonists the world over. The capacity of cartoonists to lighten the darkest moments without trivialising them will be covered by Tony Husband as he talks about his Dad’s dementia, so movingly rendered in his book, ‘Take Care, Son’.


In addition to the usual ‘themed’ cartoon galleries, visitors can also enjoy exhibitions such as “Dead Ringers – The Unluckiest Birds” – a digital exhibition of the artwork from the quirky birdy book by acclaimed cartoonists Rupert Besley, John Roberts, Noel Ford, Cathy Simpson, Roger Penwill, and Bill Stott.


The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2016 takes place on Saturday 16th April. To find out more visit the website here.

by Jonesy

PCO cartoonists Very Semi Serious about London premiere of New Yorker film

April 9, 2016 in General


BFI Southbank will be the venue for the premiere

Leah Wolchock’s award-winning film takes us behind the scenes to meet cartoon editor Robert Mankoff and the remarkable artists who submit their work each week. It’s a funny, fascinating and poignant look at the business of making people laugh.

The screening of Very Semi Serious will be followed by a conversation with three of Britain’s top cartoonists (and PCO members) Jeremy Banks (Financial Times), Carol Isaacs (freelance, inc The New Yorker) and Will McPhail.


Jeremy Banx at work. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Jeremy Banx at work. Photo © Kasia Kowalska


Carol Isaacs (aka The Surreal McCoy) and Will McPhail

Taking the form of a Q&A session, this will be an opportunity for the public to gain an idea of what it takes to be a cartoonist from three of this country’s finest practitioners.


© Will McPhail

The premiere will be held at the BFI Southbank (NFT3) on Saturday 23rd April. Screening begins at 15.40 and tickets are priced at £10.65.

Find out more on the Loco website.

You can also view a short trailer here.


by Jonesy

Comix Creatrix: 100 women making comics

April 9, 2016 in General


The End of Summer © Tillie Walden

Comix Creatrix presents the work of 100 innovative creators and debunks the myth that women have a limited stake in the world of comics. Highlighting 21st century work by British creators, the exhibition also recognises ground-breaking works from the 19th and 20th centuries, and will highlight the influence of international practitioners on the British scene.


© Lizz Lunney

On display is original artwork from graphic novels, comics and zines – many seen in public for the first time. It will feature work from acclaimed titles such as Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland and Isabel Greenberg’s Encyclopedia of Early Earth as well as self-published sensations like Nadine Redlich’s Ambient Comics and many more.


Fatherland © Nina Bunjevac


Genesis © Alison Sampson

Featuring artists from Marie Duval and Tove Jansson to Posy Simmonds, Audrey Niffenegger and Nina Bunjevac, Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of leading female comic artists and will run until 15th May 2016 at 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London. Viewing hours are between 10.00am and 6.00pm.

For more information visit the House of Illustration website here.

Thanks to The Surreal McCoy.