Posy Simmonds: star of the show

I WAS in the presence of cartooning royalty yesterday at the Cartoon Museum conference with the brilliant but modest Posy Simmonds as the celebrity speaker. She is a relaxed speaker, talking unscripted against a backdrop of illustrations which showed her career, her technique and processes, backed up by a couple of her development notebooks which are frankly exquisite. She turned page after page of sketches, drawings and paintings which individually could have graced the walls of an art gallery and show what an insightful and meticulous observer of character she is.

The Cartoon Museum’s conferences run from around 10:00 to 18:00 (longer than I would dare to try holding people’s attention at one of my own professional events) but with one exception the presentations were entertaining and informative so there was no point where I found myself fidgeting with boredom. We were treated to a mix of creative people talking about their work, and more technical stuff from the Association of Illustrators and the Society of Authors focussing on topics like copyright, funding sources and so on.

In contrast with 2022 when the audience included a fair number of very young budding graphic artists, yesterday’s seemed to have more established practitioners (including some of quite advanced years). The bias, as far as I could discern, was towards comics creators but I also met a couple of single-frame gag generators like myself. The venue holds only a few dozen but it was packed and there was a good informal atmosphere with speakers happy to break off and take questions as they went along and participants sharing ideas and helpful tips.

But oh dear, the venue really needs to up its game on stage management. The projector was aimed too low on the wall. There was no lectern or remote control, so presenters were bending down to advance slides using the keyboard of a laptop perched on a chair. Some presenters spoke from a sitting position (which would have rendered them invisible to half the audience) and one even sat facing the screen. In another case they were stood behind a flip chart left over from earlier proceedings. But for all that, I think it’s fair to say that a good time was had by all.

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