Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On the trail of cartoonists at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival

Last weekend we were in my one-time hometown, Shrewsbury, for the Cartoon Festival. It's been going for 13 years and this was the first time we went.

On the Friday night we went to an illustrated talk by Tony Husband, who draws the comic strip 'Yobs' in Private Eye. Tony was talking about his book of cartoons called 'Take care, Son', which chronicles his father's descent into dementia and the impact that had on the family. It was by turns moving and funny, and as you'd expect given the subject matter, very sad. Tony presented it very honestly - talking about how difficult things became when his father was phoning him up to 80 times a day, and how he felt when he visited his father in the care home. "He always used to stand by the window to watch us leave to make sure we felt the maximum amount of guilt."

Tony is now presenting about his experience to a wide number of organisations and companies who are training staff to help customers who have dementia. The humour in the talk was never at his father's expense and I'm sure the way Tony manages to explain the situation and maintain the dignity of his father is a great lesson in itself for people who come into contact regularly with people who have dementia.

We bought a copy of the book and posed for a photo after he had signed it and drawn a Yob in it for us.

Also present at the presentation was Hilary Price, an American cartoonist whose comic strip is called 'Rhymes with Orange'. We discovered this years ago on the web and one of her cartoons, 'True Microwave Settings' was stuck on our microwave for years. Hilary was there with her mum and her aunt. We had a book of her cartoons and when Cathy pulled it out of her bag to ask Hilary to sign it, her Mum told us "I love you already!"

After getting over her surprise that we had her book, and signing it, and asking us if we were cat or dog people and drawing us a dog when I said dog people, she also posed for a photo with us.

The next day we went into the town centre. Next to the mediaval market hall, the festival had several gazebos for the cartoonists to draw large scale cartoons.  Tony had redrawn several of his Private Eye cartoons. The one bottom left (ho ho) is one of my favourites. (Click on it and it will be readable.)

Hilary was there, drawing a large scale cartoon as well. She remembered us from the night before, hopefully not because we came across like stalkers. It was a sunny day but bitterly cold as can be seen from the very necessary coats.

There were quite a few activities available and even I had a go, drawing my 'man with eager to please expression' on the blackboard they had out for the kids.

We came back later and he had been rubbed off. Ah well. Maybe I should actually draw some cartoons with him in.

It was an enjoyable event and I'm really pleased to have met two cartoonists whose work I admire. I'm very lucky to have met a few of my cartooning heroes over the years and if this festival carries on I may get to meet some more.

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