Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival takes flight

Tomorrow sees the start of the annual Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival

You won’t be surprised to learn that it happens in Shrewsbury and it involves cartoonists schlepping over to the delightful border town from all points geographical. It has been hanging in there for eight years now without measurable patronage, save for a few quid from the council and lashings of tireless and professional help from a team of local organisers. Its originator is cartoonist Roger Penwill who moved to the area some years ago and cajoled the council into putting up with a bunch of scribbling oddballs every April, if they promised to clear up their mess after them. Exhibitions of cartoon art can be seen in most available spaces around the town and the bizarre spectacle of geezers sporting fedoras and beards painting huge mural-sized cartoons in the market square is not to be missed. You can hear talks by luminaries such as The Guardian’s Steve Bell and Group Captain Penwill. What’s more, the wannabe and amateur cartoonist will also find workshops of all stripe and “portfolio clinics” to help sharpen his/her skills. Or simply see yourself as others see you by getting yourself caricatured by one of the roaming scribblers. The international flavour of the festival is provided this year by cartoonists from France and Australia.

This year’s theme is “flight”. I strongly advise readers to tool over in their Sopwith Camels and take a fly-past. If for no other reason than that I will be attempting to re-draw my cartoon above to a 6 foot by 8 foot canvas in the market square on Saturday. It might be worth it simply for the unintentional slapstick comedy of a man struggling with a blow-away canvas and gallons of paint facing the teeth of an April gale.

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