Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kenosha Festival of Cartooning

A message from Anne Morse Hambrock, musician and artist, and collaborator with her husband, John Hambrock, on the comic strip "The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee":

I have attended a few Reuben Award Weekend's now and there always seems to be at least one presentation by a cartoonist (usually an older cartoonist) who has these great pictures from back in the day when cartoonists were the sort of A list celebrities that got invited to the White House.

Cartoons and Comics are every bit as socially relevant as they have ever been but the cartoonists who produce them are seldom viewed by the public in the same high profile way they used to be. Stellar artists in the medium are not the household names that they should be.

I began to feel that there was a need for more cartooning events like the Reuben Awards and the Ohio Festival of Cartoon Art that were, instead of gated off to a select few, open to the public at large.

And so I decided to found the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning. Last year's guest speakers were: Tom Bancroft, Tom Richmond, Sandra Bell Lundy, Paul Gilligan, John Hambrock, and Scott Stantis. This year's guests (if I make my fundraising goal) are: Stephan Pastis, Michael Jantze, Hilary Price, Dave Coverly, Greg Cravens and Norm Feuti.

To guarantee the largest possible audience for such an event, I determined that the presentations needed to be free to the public. But I do not believe in asking cartoonists to come speak for free. Neither am I comfortable simply telling them it will be a good opportunity to sell books and the resulting income can be their fee. In musical circles, that's what we call "playing for the gate". In art terms, it would feel a lot like working on spec.

But in order to be able to both pay the cartoonists a decent amount and also keep the events free to the public, I have to have a fundraising plan. Last year I managed to cobble together enough funds to get the festival off the ground but many of the donations came from my personal friends. The local institutions either have extremely tight budget constraints or require a grant proposal submitted 2 years in advance of the event. Kenosha is also a small town recovering from the loss of several big companies such as Chrysler and Snap On Tools that no longer fund projects of this kind.

So I put the project up on Kickstarter 2 weeks ago.

We started off strong, many of the donations coming in at the $50 level and most of them from fellow cartoonists. Since that time, donations have fallen off significantly so I need to either do a better job getting the word out or twisting a few arms (gently) or both.

So I am asking you to help me spread the word. If you have a blog or facebook page where you can post a link to the project or a mailing list of your chapter members who you feel would be supportive of this project, PLEASE contact them and make them aware of what we are doing.

320 pledges of $25 gets us to our goal. We also make it if 160 folks pledge $50 or, even better, 80 people pledge $100. Kickstarter is an all or nothing affair - if I don't make the $10,000 goal by May 22, I lose all the money pledged so far!

I am personally getting nothing more out of this then the satisfaction of seeing cartoonists get the opportunity to interact with their fans and improve the visibility of their personal brand specifically and cartooning in general.

I feel, with print markets drying up and audience fragmentation an ever looming threat, festivals like this are imperative to keep cartooning relevant.

You can also embed the video featured at the beginning of this post on your own site by clicking the "Share" button that appears at the end of the video.

Thank you in advance for your help!!




Anne Morse Hambrock

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