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Phil Gillam: Fancy a quick draw? Head to Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury | Entertainment | Published:

From Dennis the Menace to The Simpsons, from political caricatures in our newspapers to Beryl the Peril, who doesn't love a good cartoon?

Serious ones can make you look at the world differently. Funny ones put a smile on your face.

So make a note in your diaries, folks …

This coming weekend sees this year's Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival burst into life, offering a veritable feast of cartooning as participants tackle the theme of 'Food and Drink'.

From all around the world, 30 cartoonists will descend upon the county town, set loose to scribble, sketch, colour, paint and draw to their heart's content – and indeed to your heart's content too.

There's a rare chance to watch large board cartooning – and take home your own caricature.

A whole day of events in Shrewsbury's beautiful Square on Saturday complements other activities including workshops, talks, exhibitions and a trail around the town.

Also in The Square on Saturday, you will find the 'Fast Food Takeaway Shack' serving freshly made drawings, and a live cartoon performance – 'The Great British Cook Off Melodrawma'.

Join in, brew your own caption, get a taste for drawing in the hands-on area and visit the bookstall where cartoonists will be pleased to sign their work.

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As a child, I consumed comics. Yes, there was The Beano and The Dandy, of course, but my favourite comic was TV21 in which the adventures of Gerry Anderson's Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet were portrayed in cartoon form.

And one of the highlights of my childhood Christmases was receiving the utterly thrilling TV21 annual.

On television in those days there was Top Cat, The Flintstones, Whacky Races, Scooby Doo, and the very mysterious and rather scary Marine Boy.

I also loved the American comics (or comic books as the Americans call them) which were imported to this country and sold in the lovely Claremont Street newsagents opposite Shrewsbury Market Hall.

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I would choose an edition of Spiderman or The Avengers or Batman or Daredevil or read it as soon as I got home.

And although the cartoons you're likely to see in Shrewsbury at the weekend may be a world away from Marvel Comics or DC Comics superhero thrillers, the talent and skill behind their creation is the same.

The 'Eat, Draw and be Funny' selling exhibitions at Bear Steps and Theatre Severn offer over 100 cartoons to tantalise your taste buds. The exhibition at the Bear Steps, St Alkmond's Square, runs through to April 29.

Over 80 cartoons on the theme of Food & Drink will be on show, including Thomas Moore's Gin Lane Revised – a must see.

The exhibition at Theatre Severn runs all the way through to late May and includes an auction of the 'Worship of Bacchus' (reworked print).

Other ingredients that can be found in the FBC Manby Bowdler Gallery include animation tips, clips, storyboards and cartoon motifs.

An important aim of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival is to provide an opportunity for people of all ages to get stuck in and have fun. Alongside what is being served up in The Square, the workshops on Saturday will include two 'Expressive Animation' events staged by local artist Joe Coulman – 10am and 11.30am. Organisers say: "Come along and create your own animation to take home – £4 per session."

Today the festival is hosting a second illustrated talk by award winning Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband. Tony's talk 'From a Dark Place' is a heartening tale of his son Paul's journey through addiction. The talk is from 8pm at the Unitarian Church, High Street. Tickets are available from Pengwern Books, Fish Street, or on the door - £10, profits in aid of Red Rose Recovery and the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival fund.

There's so much going on – including the S-mile Trail which is as tasty as ever: a coffee, cake and cartoon trail around town throughout April.

For further details on all aspects of the festival, check out their website shrewsburycartoonfestival.wordpress.com

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