Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2018

We always link our festival theme to our seaside location and this year we chose Turning the Tide.

Our amazing festival poster was designed by The Surreal McCoy.

The theme acknowledged that the past twelve months had been an eventful year for women everywhere. We were celebrating the 100 year anniversary since we won the vote in the UK.  We had seen the birth of #MeToo and #Times Up, the change in the law on abortion in Ireland and lots of discussion about the gender pay gap. We still had a woman as Prime Minister (just!) and we also had our very first female Dr Who!

All this (and more) was brilliantly reflected upon in our exhibitions this year.

At the Seaside Museum and The Bay Art Gallery we curated a two gallery exhibition entitled Funny Women, showcasing the work of female cartoonists, illustrators and comic strip creators over the century.  Many of the artworks came from the British Cartoon Archive.

The exhibition was a snapshot of the amazing work done by funny women over the past one hundred years including Mary Tourtel (creator of Rupert the Bear) and Tove Jansson (The Moomins), graphic novelists Posy Simmons and Rachael Ball, The Guardian’s Nicola Jennings and Ros Asquith, alongside Grizelda, Marf, The Surreal McCoy, Lou Mckeever, Kathryn Lamb, Rianna Duncan and many more.

On Friday evening we launched the festival with an illustrated talk at Pettman House, by The Surreal McCoy and Rachael Ball, presented by Alex Fitch, co-curator, Graphic Brighton, University of Brighton.  Rachael and Surreal discussed work in progress on their forthcoming graphic novels, Wolf and The Wolf of Baghdad.

During the day on Saturday we held three workshops. 

The first was led by Alex Hallatt who joined us for the first time this year.  Alex is based in New Zealand but was educated at the University of Kent.  She is the creator of the comic strip Arctic Circle, which centers on the relationship between three immigrant penguins and a polar bear and is syndicated by King Features in newspapers worldwide. Arctic Circle often explores themes of climate change, which is a subject close to Alex’s heart.  She welcomed 15 children to the session.

Our second workshop was led by Roger Todd, who makes puppets in the style of Spitting Image. He showed 20 adults and children how to create caricatures out of clay and gave a brief lecture on the history of the artform.  Roger brought some of his own creations to the workshop and along to the pier the following day.

Lastly, we welcomed back Martin Rowson, who offered a free workshop on drawing caricatures at Pettman house. Massively oversubscribed, locals were thrilled to be shown how to draw caricatures by an expert.


Our annual PCO exhibition at Beach Creative was titled “Turning the Tide”. In addition to the festival theme of women, we were delighted to see many cartoonists chose to interpret the topic to comment on the shocking amount of plastic in our oceans.


And we also had another exhibition in the Rossetti Gallery at Beach Creative, entitled GAGGED – an exhibition of cartoons about censorship and the repression of cartoonists around the world, in collaboration with Cartoon Rights Network.

We returned to the pier on Sunday for the annual Cartooning Live event and were happy to have more women cartoonists join us there then ever before.