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Cartooning Global Forum

December 13, 2018 in Events, General

The Surreal McCoy writes:

Monday (December 10th) was the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Earlier this year in October I was asked to attend the first Cartooning Global Forum day at UNESCO in Paris, to represent PCO (paying my own train fare). I made several useful contacts at this forum for future collaborations and will be following up with them in due course. Finally got to meet Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, (pictured below with Terry Anderson) who has finally had his travel ban lifted. (The next forum is being planned for October 2019, in between the weekends at St Juste.)

  

Photo ©The Surreal McCoy

Opening remarks from Terry Anderson, Deputy Executive Director, CRNI and PCO member:

 ÉTATS GÉNÉRAUX DE DESSIN DE PRESSE UNESCO – 03/10/18 WORKING SESSION 1 REDUCED INEQUALITIES and PEACE, JUSTICE & STRONGER INSTITUTIONS

Dear colleagues, it’s a great pleasure to open the morning’s discussion on the topics laid out by Jérôme. These are lofty goals but if we believe in the power and value of cartooning as a medium then I don’t think it is beyond us to contribute toward their realisation. And if this forum is the beginning of a truly global co-operative undertaking by all cartoonists’ organisations, something I confess by own has tried and failed to create in the past, then so much the better.

Briefly: no conversation in this context and setting on the topic of peace could begin without acknowledging the contribution of our friends at Cartooning For Peace, and especially so soon after the loss of their honorary president Kofi Annan. We send them our best wishes and commend their exemplary work in the promotion of cartooning as a means of crossing barriers of understanding and promoting human rights, tolerance and peace.

Nor can we gather in this city and fail to remember the singular atrocity that unfolded on its streets in January 2015 and how for one moment it seemed as if the planet was galvanised and united by a single sentiment, Je Suis Charlie. There are participants here today who lost loved ones and friends on that day; we grieve with them and honour their courage.

Over the intervening years we’ve heard much about cartoonists as “canaries in the coal mine” and how our problems are early indicators of a wider, insidious and worsening chilling of freedom of expression. I’ve used the metaphor myself in the past but increasingly I dislike it as it implies a degree of fragility and dispensability. We are not victims or victims in waiting. We are essential to the health of press and media and therefore crucial to democracy. I would cite last year’s Humor Amenaçat initiative in Spain and the subsequent distribution of the Illegal Times freesheet as an excellent example of cartoonists and their allies pro-actively taking an urgent message directly tothe populace without awaiting a gatekeeper’s say-so. They were ahead of the curve; the FreeMuse anticensorship organisation later declared Spain the world’s top jailer of musicians, specifically rap artists protesting their government.

 We kid ourselves if we believe the problems addressed by the UN’s SDGs are reserved wholly to the developing world.

CRNI knows the primary threat to cartoonists’ freedom comes from authoritarian governments, so I hope we’ll hear from those of you here who have first-hand experience of persecution by the state, by corrupt officials, military or police personnel. Share with us the means by which cartooning has exposed the malaise afflicting the societies in which you work. Where and when do you think cartooning has resulted in palpable change? For those who have come from larger organisations that work toward the goals of social justice and peace, have you used cartoons? If so, in what way and was if effective? If you would never use cartoons, tell us why. What lessons can we cartoonists glean from others’ willingness or resistance to the use of our work?

We are asked today to consider inequality. In very recent weeks we have seen how a cartoon proffered on one side of the world as fair comment can be interpreted on the other as an unwarranted, racist and misogynistic attack. No quarter was given in the ensuing debate; humourless snowflakes on one side, unrepentant white supremacists on the other. Very little humility or grace. Some (but hardly enough) acknowledgment of a bigger problem. Around the world editorial cartooning remains stubbornly male and, even in the multicultural west, largely white. We can do a better job of reflecting the diversity of experience and the inequalities that lie therein only if we are likewise as diverse. How may we at last achieve that? Positively discriminate and risk accusations of favouritism? Rely on merit, assuming a level playing field that simply doesn’t exist? For those who have encouraged newcomers into the profession, tell us about who wants to be a cartoonist in the digital media century and what we need to do to make our sphere a welcoming place for all. For those who have written policy with equality at its heart, guide us on best practice. And then more widely, tell us about projects you have undertaken that were designed to reach audiences not served by the typical press cartoon; the poorest or least educated in your society and minority groups of every classification.

Inevitably there will be some overlap with the work to be discussed this afternoon. It’s virtually impossible to talk about education without including inequality and vice versa. So do not be afraid to introduce an idea here that can be returned to later. But for those still seeking a way to grasp the matter at hand, for me these two broad goals can be boiled down to a single word: fairness. So consider, how do we make our profession fairer and how may our work make the world fairer?

OPENING REMARKS TERRY ANDERSON, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CARTOONISTS RIGHTS NETWORK INTERNATIONAL

Terry Anderson speaking at the forum. This and the headline photos ©DR Studio-irresistable/E.K.

You can download a full copy of the the report from the Global Cartooning Forum here.

Zunar is giving a talk ‘Laughter As A Political Tool’ at University College London on 17th January. Here’s a link for more details and for booking tickets.

Who pocketed the cartoon awards?

November 30, 2018 in Events, General, News

Clive Goddard writes:

The Political Cartoon Awards have been running for 18 years now, but this year there was something new. The event takes place in a large, swanky hall in central London with subdued coloured lighting, tasty little unidentified canapes being offered by attractive young people and more free booze than anyone has time to drink. The nominated cartoons appear on three enormous screens and, in the very centre of the room, stands a black box surrounded by voting slips. It’s a seriously impressive affair.
At 7pm precisely the voting stops and ballots are counted (probably in a secret room by someone wearing white gloves, I don’t know I couldn’t see that bit) and the winners names are entered into the gold envelopes.

For the last 18 years there have been awards for the country’s best political cartoon and best political cartoonist. These are the fine, upstanding chaps (pretty much exclusively chaps) who draw the editorials for the nation’s newspapers and this year was no exception. Steve Bell, Brighty, Ben Jennings, Mac and other household names were in the running. The ‘new’ element for 2018 was the addition of two awards for pocket cartoons, sponsored by the PCO (Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation – aka: us) to celebrate the work of those other cartoonists not lucky enough to have a regular gig with a national publication.

Once the gold envelopes had been stuffed, the speeches began. The evening’s host, Ben Atfield, managing director of the event’s major sponsor, Ellwood Atfield, kicked everything off and introduced his fellow organiser, Tim Benson of The Political Cartoon Gallery. Dr Benson’s speech was unusually tame compared to his normal performances which have long divided audiences into warring factions, mostly along the lines of those who were born in the fifties and those who were born sometime thereafter. He noted that he had been ‘neutered’ which presumably meant he had been ‘asked to tone it down a bit’ for the sake of everyone’s blood pressure. Some cartoonists who normally appeared at the event, notably the Guardian’s Martin Rowson, were boycotting it this year and a lively Twitter spat was in full … er … spatter so there was an underlying current of controversy in the air but luckily nothing controversial happened. The Doc, however, did find time to plug his new book which is, after all, what it’s all about.

Clive Goddard at the podium.

Then came my turn to take the podium. As chair of the PCO I’d been asked to say a few words about the current state of cartooning in Britain which, inevitably, resulted in a few minutes of moaning about how dire it has become. I had been asked to keep it light and not to mention gender but as the inclusion of the pocket cartoon awards had tipped the gender balance to include more women it would have been churlish of me not to welcome the change. The fact that I already knew the inaugural ‘Pocket Cartoonist of the Year’ award had been won by a woman made it a little hard to conceal my pleasure.

Grizelda receiving her award.

Claire Calman introducing the Mel Calman Award.

Next up was Claire Calman, daughter of the late Mel Calman, a pocket cartoonist’s pocket cartoonist who we sadly lost back in 1994. She was followed by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford and wife of some bloke who is famous for dancing on TV. It quickly became clear that Yvette had not received the memo about avoiding the gender issue (or had chosen to ignore it) and gave a strong, impassioned speech about improving the representation of women in the cartooning world. There was much applause and the peasant folk did sing and dance in the streets with joy.

Last to the microphone was one of the twenty seven ex-Brexit ministers in attendance that night, David Davis, who much to his credit then hung around for the rest of the evening chatting to the proles and doing his best to use up the remaining free Heineken.

The winners were as follows:

Political Cartoon of the Year: Peter Brookes
Runner-up: Harry Burton
Political Cartoonist of the Year: Morten Morland
Runner-up: Bob Moran
Pocket Cartoonist of the Year: Grizelda
Pocket Cartoon of the Year: Russel Herneman

 

Cartoon © Peter Brookes

Cartoon © Harry Burton

Cartoon © Russel Herneman

The winners and presenters.

The new awards themselves are a pair of chunky transparent doorstop type things made from the finest hand-crafted Tibetan resin and laser etched with a Calman original and an Osbert Lancaster, both funded by the PCO (Hooray for us). All in all it was a very good evening. No bloodshed, very little vomiting and a lot of love and respect shown for Britain’s cartoonists. The PCO walked a successful line through the controversial bits and established a wider, more inclusive view of what constitutes a political cartoon. (Hooray for us again!). Congrats to all who have pressed for it.

Next year it will all be smooth sailing.

You can see Clive’s full speech here

Most photos © Ellwood Atfield

The Wolf of Baghdad – a memoir of a lost homeland

November 16, 2018 in Events, General

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

The Wolf Of Baghdad, an audio-visual project created by PCO member The Surreal McCoy, is based on her Iraqi-Jewish family’s memories of their lost homeland. A short preview can be seen here. 

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

Drawn digitally the memoir will be presented as a motion comic – a semi-animated slideshow on a big screen. Essentially wordless it will have musical accompaniment by new Judeo-Arabic ensemble 3yin and will be performed over two nights at London’s JW3 venue on 21st and 22nd November 2018. Booking link here.

3yin are Daniel Jonas, multi-instrumentalist and vocals; Keith Clouston, oud; Sass Hoory, percussion; Carol Isaacs, accordion; Shirley Smart, cello. Repertoire is taken from the music the Jews of Iraq would have been familiar with, both secular and sacred. 

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

Read more about the project and hear an interview with the creator here

Illustration © The Surreal McCoy

The Surreal McCoy’s blog about the project can be found here

 

Portrait of the Not The National Portrait Gallery exhibition

October 3, 2018 in Events, General

Photo © Glenn Marshall

Clive Goddard writes:

I’m not sure how you measure these things in any meaningful way but I’m going to confidently declare that the PCO’s #NotTheNPG caricature exhibition at Charing Cross library was a complete triumph. For a start, the location was excellent, being in an area of central London visited by art loving tourists and now, thanks to the collective funds and effort of the  membership, kitted out as a proper gallery space with hanging facilities and frames which we can use again.

Poster featuring caricatures by Wilbur Dawbarn, Jonesy, Andy Davey and Simon Ellinas.

We could, I suppose, measure the show’s success in terms of the members’ response to the call for submissions. 47 different people had their work shown which added up to around 130 pieces on the walls (and tables and floor), whittled down in a painfully difficult process from over 300 submissions.


Photo © Jeremy Banx


How else to measure it? Well, people turned up. Not in their thousands, of course because it was a cartoon exhibition not a recording of the X Factor, but in sufficient numbers to make it worth doing and to stop the invigilators from sloping off to the pub. We were plugged in both Private Eye and The Evening Standard which certainly helped raise the show’s profile. And those that visited the show really liked it. The comments book was full of very complimentary things and there were plenty of encouraging words exhanged, too. It was also great to hear a lot of audible laughter coming from the visitors which made a pleasant change in the normally po-faced environment of an art gallery. Tate Modern really frowns upon people chuckling at their exhibits as I once discovered to my cost at a Turner Prize show.

Preview piece in The Evening Standard.

Better still, we sold stuff. Prints and originals on the walls quickly attracted those lovely little red dots which translated into total sales of nearly £3,000. This included a couple of hundred which the invigilators earned by selling more of their own work out of a grubby suitcase beneath the table.

Jeremy Banx, Christopher Burke and Steve Way at the Private View. Photo © Mika Schick.

The events were a great success too. The private view was well attended by many cartoonists, art editors and collectors most of whom behaved impeccably and didn’t get too drunk. Unfortunately Damian Hirst, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson and the other caricature victims on display, though cordially invited, were unable to attend due to some pathetic reason or other. I don’t know – they didn’t RSVP. 

Helen Pointer workshop. Photo © The Surreal McCoy

Helen Pointer’s caricaturing workshop went down a storm, attracting a full table of happy punters eager to learn and to try their hand/s at the dark art.

The panel discussion. 

The panel discussion featuring PCO heavyweights* Martin Rowson, Andy Davey, Rebecca Hendin, John Roberts and Chris Burke was a sell out**. Different perspectives on working practices and processes were shared and there was a dialogue between people working in slightly differing, yet overlapping, adjacent fields, ie: portraiture through a lens that included everything from event caricature to political cartooning to illustration gave a welcome broad perspective. And, again, most people behaved very well throughout.

The clash of the hairdos. Photo © Glenn Marshall

So now that it’s all over and Uncle Glenn has de-framed everyone’s work and is trying to find the SAEs they came with, we start thinking about the next one. Today Charing Cross, tomorrow the world!

Major thanks to everyone concerned.

Clive Goddard

PCO Chair-human

* In terms of talent not body mass index.
** In terms of numbers not principles.

NOT the National Portrait Gallery

August 21, 2018 in Events, General, News

Poster cartoon by kind permission of © Richard Jolley/ Private Eye magazine.

PCO Chair human Clive Goddard writes:

“No, its ‘Not the National Portrait Gallery’ but it is right on its doorstep in a brand new gallery space at Charing Cross Library. It is an exhibition full of irreverent, funny and, in some cases, downright disrespectful caricatures and cartoons, all poking fun at the singularly human business of having a likeness made.

The show features work by just under 50 members of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO) including a host of familiar cartoonists from the pages of The Guardian, The Independent, Private Eye and the rest of the British press, whose signed originals and prints will be on sale”

‘The exhibition is on from 10th-23rd September, details of location and opening times here. During the run we have two associated events:

Martin Rowson with hands on a naked Boris. Photo © Zoom Rockman

Panel Talk

Monday 17th September 6-8pm

Discussion hosted by The Guardian cartoonist and author Martin Rowson with Chris Burke (The Times), Andy Davey (The Sun, Evening Standard, The Telegraph), Rebecca Hendin (BBC, Buzzfeed and more) and John Roberts (live event caricaturist) who all work across different fields as cartoonists, caricaturists and illustrators.

Angela Merkel by © Chris Burke

Samuel Beckett by © Andy Davey

Theresa May by © Rebecca Hendin

Amy Winehouse by © John Roberts

The talk is free but we recommend you book one of the limited places on the Westminster Libraries website.

 

Helen Pointer with presenter and comedian Sue Perkins. Photo © Helen Pointer

Caricature Workshop

Sunday 16th September 2-4pm

An ‘Introduction to Caricature’ with Helen Pointer. Helen is a highly experienced and much in-demand caricaturist.

This is suitable for all ages.

Again the event is free but you should book one of the limited spaces via the Westminster Libraries website.

 

with apologies to the real National Portrait GalleryWhy not combine a visit to both!

Contains Male Nudity – The Privates View

August 14, 2018 in Events, General, News

Away from the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival proper was the exhibition improper ‘Contains Male Nudity’ which is still running at One New Street Gallery. PCO’s intrepid senior staff photographer Kasia Kowalska was at the ‘Privates View’ to cover events as they unfolded.

Readers are warned that some of the following content may be of an adult nature.

Cartoonists ‘low five’ outside the gallery. Left to right Royston Robertson, Dave Brown, The Surreal McCoy, Alex Hallet, Alex Hughes and Pete Dredge.

Martin Rowson in the gallery studio creating a late entry to be inserted into the exhibition.

Cartoonists Kathy Lamb & Chris Burke plus Rob Murray with Andrew Birch. All caught visiting the show.

The ‘Room of Filth’ mostly so named because of the Jeremy Banx contributions.

Cathy Simpson pointing at a genuine ancient Greek artefact.

Royston Roberston’s ‘buff envelope’ gag proved very popular (actually framed in a window envelope). Royston priced the cartoon in first class stamps (some tax avoidance scam no doubt)

Zoom Rockman with one of his life drawings. Photo © Zoom Rockman

And some more ‘art’ from the walls:

One of the Danny Noble strips featuring nude Ollie Reed and Alan Bates spending their lives together after their naked wrestling scene in Ken Russell’s ‘Women in Love’.

‘Agent Dale Cooper’ from the mind of Dr Julian Gravy aka Tony Horseradish.

Drawing by illustrator Ian Pollock.

‘Peter’s Penis’ strip by Andrew Birch…naturally in the ‘Room of Filth’

All photos by © Kasia Kowalska unless otherwise stated.

Thanks to Torin Brown and  The Bouncing Barrel for providing the lovely cask of ale.

The exhibition continues to run at One New Street Gallery until 1st September (open Friday and Saturday or by appointment)

Contains Male Nudity

July 29, 2018 in Events, General, News

 

An exhibition where the nudes splayed on the gallery walls are male for a change!

Cartoon by © Jeremy Banx

The show is made up of art and cartoons. For the most part it’s figure painting, sculpture and drawings, but as in previous years’ exhibitions there will be a room given over to theme-related cartoons.

Cartoon by © The Surreal MCoy

Artists and gallery owners Helen Wilde and Terry Sole curate the exhibition with cartoons gathered from PCO members (or cartoon members gathered from the PCO) by Glenn Marshall.

Painting by © Helen Wilde

One New Street is a small, independent  gallery and studio space in Herne Bay.

Cartoon by © Steve Bright

Leonardo cartoon by © Rob Murray

If you have a Leonardo you have to have a Michelangelo. This by © Clive Goddard

The exhibition runs until 1st September. There will be a ‘Privates View’ on the opening weekend.

 

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Sixth Herne Bay Cartoon Festival begins

July 27, 2018 in Events, General, News

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2018

[Poster by The Surreal McCoy]

Exhibitions are now open at the sixth Herne Bay Cartoon Festival and more than 20 of the UK’s top cartoonists will descend on the Kent seaside town next weekend for three days of talks, workshops and live drawing.

The first event is a discussion featuring The Surreal McCoy and Rachael Ball. They will talk about their work-in-progress graphic novels The Wolf of Baghdad and Wolf Man. The event is hosted by Alex Fitch, journalist and critic behind the Panel Borders radio show. It takes place on Friday 3 August at 5.30pm.

Surreal McCoy and Rachael Ball talk
On Saturday 4 August, Alex Hallatt will run a workshop for kids at Beach Creative from 11.30am-1pm. Creator of the syndicated comic strip Arctic Circle, she is British but lives in New Zealand and is visiting the festival while on a trip to the UK.

Arctic Circle by Alex Hallatt
Roger Todd will run a puppet caricature workshop at the same venue from 1.30pm. Political cartoonist and PCO member Martin Rowson will host a caricature workshop at Pettman House from 2.30pm.

The main festival day is the Sunday 5 August. The cartoonists will gather on Herne Bay Pier from midday to draw big-board cartoons, seaside peep boards, caricatures and more. As ever, there will be a chance for the public to get involved with drawing on big boards, plus they can play drawing games with the Guardian cartoonist Ros Asquith.

Cartoon from the Turning then Tide exhibition by Tat Effby

Cartoon from the Turning the Tide exhibition by Tat Effby

The festival exhibition Turning the Tide is now open at Beach Creative and runs until Sunday 12 August. The theme, which is always linked to the seaside location, acknowledges that the past year has been eventful for women. It is 100 years since the first women won the vote, we’ve seen the birth of #MeToo and #TimesUp, the protests over the gender pay gap … and even the first woman Doctor Who.

Of course, the festival always lets cartoonists interpret the theme however they want, so the choppy waters of Brexit are visited once more and there are also Turning the Tide cartoons about plastic in the oceans.

There will be a private view of Turning the Tide on Saturday 4 August, 6.30pm-8.30pm.

Tim Sanders cartoon from Turning the Tide

Tim Sanders cartoon from Turning the Tide

Also open now is Funny Women, an exhibition held jointly at the Seaside Museum and Bay Art Gallery, both on William Street. The show runs until Sunday 19 August.

Funny Women cartoon exhibition

It looks at women cartoonists and illustrators from the past 100 years and includes Mary Tourtel, creator of Rupert the Bear, and Tove Jansson of Moomins fame, alongside contemporary cartoonists such as Riana Duncan, Posy Simmonds, Nicola JenningsGrizelda, Martha Richler (Marf) and many more. The exhibition is held in conjunction with the British Cartoon Archive in nearby Canterbury.

There will be a private view of Funny Women on Friday 3 August at the Seaside Museum, then the Bay Art Gallery, 7pm-8.30pm.

Also this year, a group of US women cartoonists were invited to give their perspective on the festival theme, and the work of Isabella Bannerman, Maddie Dai, and Liza Donnelly will feature in both the Turning the Tide and Funny Women exhibitions.

Cartoon by Maddie Dai

Cartoon by Maddie Dai

Alongside the main show at Beach Creative, the festival also hosts the PCO’s Gagged exhibition in the Rossetti Room. It ran at the Westminster Reference Library last year. The Herne Bay version runs until Sunday 12 August.

Gagged cartoon exhibition in Herne Bay

The full list of cartoonists scheduled to attend the festival is as follows: Nathan Ariss, Ros Asquith, Rachael Ball, Andrew Birch, Dave Brown, Des Buckley, Chris Burke, Pete Dredge, Clive Goddard, Grizelda, Alex Hallatt, Tim Harries, Alex Hughes, Kathryn Lamb, Glenn Marshall, Lou McKeever, Rob Murray, Helen Pointer, Royston Robertson, Martin Rowson, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, The Surreal McCoy and Steve Way.

For updates on the Herne Bay Cartoon Festival, follow @HBCartoonFest on Twitter or go to Facebook.com/HBCartoonFest.

The Independent cartoonist Dave Brown at last year's festival

The Independent cartoonist Dave Brown will return this year

Herne Bay Cartoon Festival is sponsored by the Professional Cartoonists Organisation and supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Cartoonists in Conversation

April 30, 2018 in Events, General

Jonathan Cusick writes:

A Friday evening talk has traditionally opened the public programme of the Shrewsbury cartoon festival. This year ‘Cartoonists in Conversation’ aimed to give the public an insight into the lives of cartoonists, whose work they would probably be familiar with but know little about the people behind them.

The number of cartoonists gathering in the town (this year there were 30) meant we had a stellar line-up to choose from. Jeremy Banx (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Private Eye) resplendent in his beret, The Surreal McCoy (The Spectator, Reader’s Digest, The Sunday Times), Royston Robertson (Private Eye, Reader’s Digest, The Spectator) and Wilbur Dawbarn (The Beano, Private Eye, The Spectator) were joined by Ken Krimstein (New Yorker, Harvard Business Review) who was over from Chicago and brought an international perspective to the chat. Our host for the evening was BBC radio presenter Alex Lester,  a festival patron and cartoon enthusiast.

Line up: Alex Lester, The Surreal McCoy. Royston Roberston, Ken Krimstein, Wilbur Dawbarn & Jeremy Banx. Photo © Gerard Whyman

The discussion covered various aspects of life as a cartoonist, alongside some superb examples of their work. Topics covered included the creation of the work and their workspace, some ‘greatest hits’ over the years, stories of rejection slips, offence, their influences and inspirations, and of course a mention of Trump. After the main panel discussion came questions direct from the audience.

A silhouetted Banx talks about one of his cartoons. Photo © Gerard Whyman

An abominable Royston Robertson cartoon. Photo © Gerard Whyman

 

 

An influential cartoon by Bernard Kliban.

We were delighted that the event was a sell-out, and indeed extra chairs were added for latecomers.

Photo © Gerard Whyman

Hearty thanks for the success of the evening go to the cartoonists on the panel, and Alex Lester for all being fabulous. The Wightman Theatre set us up wonderfully and Andy McKeown of WildStrawberry.com’s wonderful projection made the evening such a treat visually.

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival in the rear-view mirror.

April 25, 2018 in Events, General

Jonathan Cusick, Pete Dredge, John Roberts and Helen Pointer ‘drawing the crowds’.

Rupert Besley writes:

The sun shone on the righteous – and on the cartoonists in Shrewsbury. It was a bumper gathering in the town this last weekend, with visitors and participants drawn from far and wide. Few more so than festival regular Dean Alston from Down Under, whose ace Big Board, along with a Noel Ford classic, was among the first things to greet arrivals in The Square. Close by worked guest cartoonists from the States, Maria Scrivan and Ken Krimstein, while further input to the international flavour of the day came from the strong deputation of Belgians, all involved in the European Cartoon Centre at Kruishoutem near Ghent.

Big boards by Australia’s Dean Alston and the UK’s Noel Ford.

US cartoonists Maria Scrivan and Ken Krimstein with their big boards.

Cartoon by Nikola Hendrickx from Belgium and Nikola in action.

The private view of the ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ exhibition at The Bear Steps Gallery.

This was the 15th Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival and the theme of Transport was a fertile and perfect choice. The galleries (Bear Steps, Theatre Severn & V.A.N, plus Wendy Shea exhibition at Participate) gave proof, if ever needed, of what can be done from kicking around a good subject and, back in The Square, heads spun towards the reassuring sight of Air Flight Marshall at the check-in desk for budget airline Icarus Air.

The GORGEOUS Glenn Marshall at the Icarus Air check-in desk.

Roger Penwill fronts the Drawma while Noel Ford, Wilbur Dawbarn and Royston Robertson take to the boards accompanied by The Surreal Accordionist. 

You can count on Shrews for good live music from beneath the Market Hall and so it proved throughout. Mid-afternoon came the Drawma, with mellow accordion softening the oohs and aarrghs of those there for quick-drawn gags and terrible puns.

Caricaturists Alex Hughes suitably in tropical attire for the unseasonal heatwave.

Elsewhere in The Square, the line-up of top caricaturists was kept hard at it all day (Hughes, Roberts, Pointer, Cusick, Leatherbarrow, Dredge & Ryder, with Christelle Jones at Bear Steps). Meanwhile, other Big Boards got filled by the likes of (with apologies to anyone inadvertently missed) Clive & Amy Goddard, Steve Best, Royston Robertson, Wil Dawbarn, Ross Thomson, Ger Whyman, Hunt Emerson, Rich Skipworth, John Landers, The Surreal McCoy, Jeremy Banx, Roger Penwill, Nikola Hendrickx & present writer, not forgetting fine graphic contributions too from Zoom Rockman and Patrick Holden.

PCO Chair-human Clive Goddard with PCO’s Treasurer-human Amy Amani-Goddard.

Steve Best applying blue.

Maria Scrivan ‘likes’ Royston Robertson’s twitter cartoon. 

Gerard  Whyman hogs some limelight.

The top of Rich Skipworth.

The Surreal McCoy and her surreal cartoon.

Jeremy Banx creates Noah’s limo.

Semi-big boards by John Landers and Roger Penwill.

Ross Thomson & Hunt Emerson drawing and colouring in.

Dean Alston and Wilbur Dawbarn doing some more drawing and colouring in.

Rupert Besley on a familiar scene from a cartoonists daily life.

Zoom of Crouch End draws Clive of India.

Helen Pointer’s ‘Introduction to Caricature’ workshop.

The cartoon workshops are an important part of the festival – this year tackling caricature, movement in drawings, an automobile barn dance plus Stop Motion animation (Barry the Shrew) and some fun paper planes (from Biggles Rudling). Festival patrons Alex Lester and Martin Wainwright came up trumps in their support of the Festival, the former using his radio interview skills to host the panel of cartoonists in conversation at the Wightman Theatre on the Friday evening. The latter was able to apply some of his editing experience to the list of rules drawn up for the Air Cartooning contest that rounded off the following evening. And, on the Sunday morning, while bikers gathered in their droves on the outskirts of the town, festival participants were treated to a fascinating tour of Historic Shrewsbury.

Rupert Besley wins the inaugural ‘Air Cartooning’ Cartoon Off ® Noel Ford

Thanks and full credit to all responsible, beginning with organisers Sarah Knapp, Bill McCabe, Tim King, Roger Penwill, Noel Ford, and Jonathan Cusick, along with all the volunteer helpers, and not forgetting the many participants (including visitors) who made the whole thing so successful.

Thanks also to Mika Schick for the excellent photographs.

More detail on the festival: Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival