|What is a cartoonist, anyway?
||[Oct. 13th, 2017|09:39 pm]
As I had guessed, our cottage is not as far out of town as you might think, and most of the distance is vertical. Also, there is indeed a back door to the Brewery Arts Centre, though they lock it at dusk. durham_rambler found an interesting way down, past the birthplace of Postman Pat. through a park which would have offered a fine view over Kendal if it weren't for the trees, and down a steep and narrow alleyway - I said "I'm not coming back this way in the dark!" and in fact we found a return route which was even steeper, rather shorter and better lit (which is to say, lit in places). We collected our tickets and armbands from the box office, found a cashpoint, noticed that the Clocktower has been scaffolded (because 2017 is The Year of ScaffoldingTM) and had something to eat (and a couple of bottles of the Festival beer) back at the Brewery.
The gala opening event was Quick on the Draw, a display of live improvised cartooning, hosted by the National Cartoonists Society of America, and starring Guest of Honour Sergio Aragonés. Local MP Tim Farron introduced it, and stayed to be caricatured by various participants. He claimed to be a comics fan, but the only comic he named in support of this was Viz, so it was good that among the people who portrayed him were members of the Viz gang. It was a fun idea, but felt as if it was struggling to fill its allotted time (personally, I always feel that asking the audience to shout out suggestions is a bad sign). Aragonés had most of the best gags - I loved his sketch of why he hadn't got to play Batman (his huge moustache sticking out below the bat-mask) - and drew at an amazing speed. It was also a very male event - all credit to Sarah Firth, the one woman participating, and I loved the heavy black lines of her drawing, but her humour fitted very comfortably into the overall blokeishness of the evening. Comparing reactions on the way home, we agreed that we had enjoyed it less than last year's debate - well, that's hardly surprising.
This part of the evening was entirely consistent with my understanding of the word 'cartoonist', but the membership of the National Cartoonists Society is clearly broader than that, and the founder members of the UK Chapter of that organisation likewise includes some people I would describe as cartoonists, and others I'd call comics artists. But even that didn't prepare me for the announcement of the first winner of the Sergio Aragonés Award - ah, looking now at the programme, I see it's 'for Excellence in Comic Art', which makes more sense. Even so, if you set out to think of the artist whose work was at the furthest possible remove from what we had seen earlier, you might well have come up with Dave McKean. Accepting the award, he said much the same thing, that he was amazed at what he'd been watching. If you asked me to do something like that, he said, you'd have to be prepared to give me the topic and then go away for two days and leave me alone. And not mind if you came back two days later, and I said, 'No. Didn't work'.
This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.