Being a cartoonist, says Harry Venning at the top of his show, is the best job in the world. His light-hearted workshop, Release Your Inner Cartoonist, feels like Venning’s way of recruiting more artists to the fold.
Venning touches briefly on the particulars of the job, but mostly focuses on the art itself. He draws cartoons live on stage and before long gets the audience involved. There is no sitting back for the adults here: everyone hunches over their fresh sheets of white paper, scribbling away with pencils.
While Venning informs us the show has had complaints—“It’s advertised for adults and broad-minded children,” he reminds us—anything particularly shocking is taken with the laughs it deserves: if it's a dog with an axe in his head or a touch of Adam and Eve, there are a handful of gasps, and then it’s on with the show. Venning spreads laughs throughout the hour: above all, he suggests, cartooning should be fun.
We draw cartoon eyes, conveying expression through eyebrows and simple mouths; we invent aliens; and, finally, are all invited to create our own short comic strip. Periodically, people are invited up to share their work in what is a very supportive environment for everyone involved.
You don’t need to be good at drawing to be a cartoonist, says Venning; you just need to be funny. And we certainly have fun trying.