The Festival of Cartoon Art

Cartoons in the Archives by Jim Hetherington – March 21, 2019

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Since 1983, The Festival of Cartoon Art is an event that occurred every three years up until 2013. Held triennially, the gathering featured two days of lectures, panel discussions, exhibitions, receptions, and other special events and has attracted an international audience including cartoonists, comics scholars, fans, collectors and students. It was a place where cartoon enthusiasts and creators came together, exchanged ideas, and shared their passion for comics and cartoons.

From political cartoons making a mockery of a presidency to the celebrated Calvin and Hobbes series, The Festival Of Cartoon Art marked 1986 reads like a director’s cut of a movie. With the table of contents ordering illustrations in alphabetical order, fans are quick to sift through the pages to see a favorite artist’s contribution, This particular edition (the second in the series) features an extract of a three-part, four and a half hour interview with Milton Caniff by Jules Feiffer. Both cartoonists at heart, they delve into Caniff’s upbringing and influences he had as an artist growing up. With cartoons from 30 different artists interspersed throughout the 60 pages of this elongated book, the construction paper like pages are reminiscent of how every sketch and word bubble within, made the cut for publishing.

It is the nature of satirical cartoons in magazine and newspapers to be reread and explored as they are thick and meant to be dense with meaning. The eye-popping blue star patterns bordering the top of interview pages give a nice simplified, not overly complicated aesthetic to provide the book with a look. I truly have begun to appreciate illustrations like these within here. It is the artists’ job to be selective with the words once the illustrations are made within each frame. Attending one of these festivals would have been breathtaking at the sheer drive the highlighted artists demonstrate. Maybe a cartoonists’ guild or other organization will start the festival tradition back up after its hiatus. Just by viewing that book I did myself a great service by seeing high caliber artists’ work, learning about how cartoons make an impact, shaping the political spectrum and cleverly lighting the path of understanding and artistry.

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