A common theme through all of the cartoonists’ presentations this weekend has been that they spend a lot of time alone doing work that goes out to the world not knowing how people have responded to it. Consequently a big part of the Festival is the joy of getting out of their studios, meeting their readers, and getting together with their colleagues to share laughs and stories.
Tonight’s presentations were by Greg Cravens and Hilary Price. Greg is from Memphis Tennessee and says that he got in the door through “the drain”. In other words he took over the cartooning and illustration of someone who was already established. So although he was doing the work, his name was not on the comic strip. Gradually he was added as a contributor and finally he acquired his own strip “Hubris Comics” He is an avid outdoors-man. He loves kayaking and even owns such a thing as an “off road unicycle” -basically a mountain bike for people who aren’t challenged enough! So when children entered his life he began drawing from the experience of a man who thought parenting was going to be easy because he was tough.
The second presenter, and the only woman on the line up this year, was Hilary Price who writes and illustrates “Rhymes with Orange” (Kurt Vonnegut says that “door hinge” is the only thing that rhymes with orange!) She started out as an English major and hoped to live in San Francisco and make money off her writing – coincidentally so did about 500,000 other people. She accidentally got into cartooning after her mother made a funny quip that cut to the chase and she went home and illustrated it. As it happened the result was a little bit of cash and she was hooked on the medium. Both cartoonists had the audience laughing hysterically with visuals of their most popular comic strips and stories about how they find inspiration, or they don’t find inspiration. Who would have thought that having a deadline to be funny could be so stressful but all of them live under the pressure of producing anywhere from one to 8 strips by the end of the week. Greg said the he could be in the middle of disciplining his child at bedtime and he suddenly has to take a break and go write something down that reminds him of how he is becoming his father and come back to continue his job as disciplinarian. The home as laboratory! Hilary takes inspiration from her 90 pound dog and her cat.
I was asked to help with preparing and serving lunch and dinner for our Kenosha guests today and so I spent a lot of time with them. They hail from Massachusetts, Tennessee, Georgia, Minnesota, California and Michigan; yet they get together like little kids excited to be at summer camp. (Could they have found a lovelier weekend to be in Kenosha and they were very impressed!!) Anne Hambrock, wife of cartoonist John Hambrock, is making sure that they are being taken care of at every turn but also that they are taking care of their fans with autographs, drawings and advice. Each of them is giving back to the audience tenfold. Don’t forget tomorrow night is the silent auction to benefit Children’s Hospitals of Wisconsin and Margaret Ann’s Place at the Rhode Center for the Arts from 6:00 – 8:00 and it is an opportunity after a full day of presentations and classes at the Museum to own some of their work.