It was a conscious effort to start small and it seems to have paid off. As a casual observer and fan I also think it benefits the town. The council appears to think so too as do a number of other local sponsors and a host of volunteers. However, not everyone is happy about it as I learned chatting to Roger Penwill, one of the organisers and no mean cartoonist himself.
Surveying the assembled cartoonists creating giant cartoons on the theme of time in the town square an elderly lady was heard to say…
"I don't approve of this sort of thing in Shrewsbury. We’ll be having one of those lapdancing clubs next!"
The festival has a host of events from workshops to lectures and exhibitions from some of the world’s top cartoonists. This year there was a visit from Australian cartoonist, Dean Alston; he comes over every year but this was the first year he'd had an exhibition of his own and it was certainly worth it.
Children weren't forgotten either as there was also a show of caricatures done by local youngsters.
As someone who can't draw I like to go along each year to rub shoulders with the talented and hope some of the charisma will rub off. So far it hasn't, sadly. Although I've had the good fortune to meet some supremely talented and funny people. It was nice to meet up with the excellent Bill Stott again and The Surreal McCoy who last year told me to call her "The". This year as we know each slightly better I now call her by her real name. As well as being a very funny cartoonist she also plays a mean accordion. A quick Google reveals her work with the London Klezmer Quartet, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, Indigo Girls, Boy George and Sinead O'Connor.
All this and she draws!
I discovered Cathy Simpson who caricatures as well as being an artist illustrator and journalist. She's also a near neighbour of mine so hopefully I can suck up sufficiently so she can come along to St Michaels Hospice in St Leonard's and do some caricatures for us and maybe exhibit at the annual Art Exhibition later this year.
This involved two teams quick fire sketches on given subjects. A witty and erudite commentary from Martin and grim mugging from me!
Roll on 2014. Wonder what the theme is going to be? I think I heard some muttering about music. Whatever it turns out to be make sure you come along. I make no apologies for this puffery as it's a terrific event and makes you realise just how much pleasure cartoonists add to our lives.
(Feel free to browse the show's cartoon galleries by clicking here)