Kicking it old school: My Big Board

Note: Draw this ... but in the olden days
"What? There's no 'Victorianise' filter in Photoshop??"

This was attached to my Big Board at the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival at the weekend, where the theme was Sport. I'd originally planned something else but they wanted a Victorian theme for the Market Square boards, to celebrate the "Olympian Games" held in nearby Much Wenlock in 1850, which inspired the revival of the modern Olympics.

The festival programme featured my old "offside" cartoon, which I'd submitted for exhibition, so I thought it would be fun to do a Victorian take on that. Of course, anyone watching me draw could see that despite the jokey notice above, I had the whole thing worked out beforehand and was working from that. I'd scaled the drawing: 6in by 8in for the 6ft by 8ft board. Taking no chances!

I gave all the characters Victorian garb, the mug became a chintzy teacup, the ketchup bottle became an early bottle of "Heinz's Catsup" (thank you Google Image Search) and there was even a cameo role for the New Yorker's Victorian dandy Eustace Tilley, on the left, an in-joke spotted by a few cartoonists when I'd completed the board.

I had a few hours to do the pencilling after arriving in Shrewsbury on Friday afternoon. Some cartoonists like to do a "big reveal" with the punchline, but I figured that there were so many people coming and going, I may as well say what the joke was from the beginning. People can usually "get it" even when the drawing is not quite finished.

I'd decided to paint the cartoon in sepia tones and set about this on the Saturday. I wasn't the only cartoonist to settle on this plan of action, as you can see from Clive Goddard's cartoon on the left behind mine, and there were others. At first I found it a bit of a struggle, as I started off way too dark at the top and bottom. (Thanks to Timothy King for this photo.)

Here's how it came out in the end. I was fairly pleased with it, but having never done a sepia painting before I felt like I wanted to do another based on what I'd learned. But maybe not a 6ft by 8ft one. It got some great reactions though, so I was happy enough as I headed off to the pub...

"I must say, your explanation of the offside rule was most pertinent."

Here's a time-lapse video, put together by Gerard Whyman, of the Big Boards being painted. I'm in here at 4.27 ...

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