Tom Mathews, The Irish Times, 31 May 1997

Drawing the crowdsEdit

ONCE again the Guinness International Cartoon Festival comes to Rathdrum for the Bank Holiday Weekend. Those sons (and daughters) of fun, Ireland's cartoonists, will be there in force along with representatives from 13 other countries, including England, France, America, Australia and Russia.

Irish artists include Wendy Shea, Terry Willers, Will Simpson, Gerard Crowley, Aonghus "Scratch" Collins and Tom Mathews. International hot shots such as Gilbert Shelton (creator of the infamous Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Fat Freddy's Cat), Hunt Emerson, darling of the English underground comics scene, and Steve "Bestie" Best, whose zany greeting cards are everywhere in evidence, guarantee a high level of wannabee interest from the younger punters.

Thousands of original cartoons will be on view in the main marquee, where live cartooning and caricature will also feature throughout the weekend. Frank (Father Jack) Kelly will officially kick off the proceedings on Saturday at noon, after which anything may happen. Those who have sated themselves with erudition in the main marquee may opt to witness the locals vs. the cartoonists football match (described by a committee member last year as "a massacre".) Live music will pound across the Market Square all day, and clowns and other street entertainers will work the crowds.

Alternatively, thrill seekers may slake their desires at the rides on the fun fair or enter their pets for the Best Dressed Dog Show (mysteriously, it was won by a goat last year). Nor should fans of the theatre of the absurd omit viewing the ever popular Welly Throwing Contest, which always gets big laughs when it features.

Those of a more serious cast of mind may choose to attend the five o'clock lecture and slide show in the marquee on Saturday. Cartoonist Mark Nesbitt, who set up the Index on Censorship internet site, introduces Khalid el Ali, whose father Naji was assassinated for his cartoons on the plight of the Palestinians, and Larry Feign, whose probing storyline in his comic strip Lily Wong in Hong Kong's South China Post led to his recent dismissal. A Gorta sponsored feature on the international theme Forestry For Food Security and famine issues is also in the marquee.

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