Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Lakes Comic Art Festival 2013- Part 2 The Talks, Steve Bell The Art of Political Satire

I'm usually behind a table selling comics at these events so what a rarity it was for me to get to some talks.

Some talks phew! Plus I went to the Grants for the Arts talk on Sunday morning. Despite seeing all these talks there were still a few more that I could not squeeze into the day, but that was probably for the best as my brain was over filling with information.          

Steve Bell, Margaret Thatcher: My Part in her Downfall.

Steve Bell is a genius, so clever, funny and observational. He has won many awards such as Cartoonist of the Year in 2005 and 2007 and the Cartoon Arts Trust Award EIGHT times! I've read his comics in The Guardian for years but having the creator read them through, brought a whole other dimension to them. I am so glad I got to this SOLD OUT event because from now I will be able to hear Steve's voice reading his comics. Bell began with his experiences of being a teacher and showed us his comics made about this time in his life (Bigfoot). 

Steve told us about how he creates his political cartoons for The Guardian; how he needs to understand the people he is drawing before he can come up with a caricature that fits them. Also always ensuring that in his depictions he is firmly championing The Guardian's rules on taste and decency. Steve suggested that when drawing Margaret Thatcher it was all about the eyeballs, one going one way and the other glinting wildly, all encompassed by a big sweep of hair. He said that she grew into her madness and he captured it within 'the mad eye.' Bell described John Major as a 'crap superman' and that's where the Y-fronts over the grey suit originated from.

He implied that most of the carnage and war/conflicts that happen in the world don't seem to make it into our media, he said that "...we are kept in the dark and they pour shit on us like mushrooms.." 

I did a few sketches as Steve was talking but he doesn't sit still for a moment always enacting his comic strips with wild abandon. He looked a lot like a lovable bear crossed with Jerry Garcia, to my eyes anyway. He ended with some great advice which was "to write as you hear it.." He was specifically talking about dialects and the way people speak but I thought you could apply this to the content of what they are saying. By not reporting your own interpretation of what people say or applying your own meaning, just simply writing what you heard.

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