Monday, September 27, 2010

1st NCS Canada Cartooning Symposium Wrap-Up

The first ever NCS Canada Cartooning Symposium took place yesterday (Sunday September 26, 2010) at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. Here are few photos (courtesy of ace photog, Simon Peng) of the proceedings for those who missed it. Hopefully we'll see you next time!


Above: That's me - Leif Peng - the host of the event, dealing with some technical issues as we start the day. Below, a few members of our dedicated audience, who trekked out to be there in time for the start - 9:30 on a Sunday morning - wow! Gathered together in the back row (like the bad kids at the back row of the class) our other four presenters: Paul Gilligan, Mike Cope, John Martz and Sandra Bell-Lundy. I was waiting for the cat-calls, but they decided to behave.


Here's me again, talking about what its like to draw cartoon characters for advertising clients. I figured I'd go first to warm things up and give the other guys a chance to bolt if the audience started throwing rotten tomatoes, but everyone was graciously attentive, thank goodness!


Paul Gilligan did the second presentation, taking us through his early career drawing illustrations for advertising and editorial clients, his foray into stock illustration, and the evolution of his Pooch Café syndicated strip. It was fascinating stuff, and because Paul's got such a great sense of humour, we had lots of good chuckles from the examples he showed us on screen and from his witty banter.


Next up was Mike Cope, seen here describing how he employs sequential art storytelling to make his NetTrekkers strip so visually effective. Mike had the most professional presentation and made the rest of us envious of his technical prowess. He even showed us a great little movie of him inking a cartoon. Mike also described what its like to do gag panel cartoons for clients like Reader's Digest - really interesting behind the scenes stuff which we all very much enjoyed.


After we got back from a quick lunch break, it was great to see not just that many of our morning audience members had returned, but that new arrivals had joined the group in time for Sandra Bell-Lundy's presentation. Sandra showed us examples of some of her earliest "Between Friends" drawings, shared some correspondences with and anecdotes about legendary (and greatly missed) King Features Syndicate editor Jay Kennedy, and brought us up to date on how her strip went from being self-syndicated in four local papers to appearing in 150 papers in 19 countries. Again, a fascinating, entertaining and informative discussion; all the more so when Sandra elaborated on the state of women cartoonists then and now and how she's explored difficult social issues like spousal abuse in her strip.


Our last presenter was John Martz, who really brought something new to the table. John's had a varied career as a graphic designer for some pretty high profile television stations, as the creator of Drawn! and as an indy comics creator and has a ton of experience outside the typical cartoonist's realm of pencil, paper and ink. He's done all sorts of web design and animation and described how his style and his materials have evolved over time so that he now works from first rough to finished piece on a Wacom Cintiq, yet manages to get a gorgeous hand-made feel to everything he produces - and John produces a LOT, as we saw! Like all the others, John's hour-long presentation seemed to go by in mere minutes and garnered many questions from a very engaged audience.


Despite five hours of talking, many of those attending stuck around all day - and even stayed afterwards to get some personal time with the various creators. Here's Paul Gilligan chatting with two members of our audience late in the day.


The event was, in my opinion, an overwhelming success - especially for our first ever kick at the can, with everything being planned in the space of just over a week and on a shoe-string budget. Many thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, but most especially to Mohawk College and dean Jo-Anne Westerby, who generously provided the venue and technical assistance that made the whole thing a reality. Without her and the college's support, we couldn't possibly have done this in such a professional manner.

I'm hoping to bring more events like this to Mohawk College - so if you missed this one and would like to get advance notice next time, please email me at

And please feel free to leave comments and questions here on the blog!


  1. Fabulous photos! Big congrats, Leif! Wish I could have been there...sniff...

  2. We missed you too, Madame President! Next time... :^)

  3. Great job Leif! Great photos Simon. Thanks for making my very small enabling part in this event so easy! Looking forward to many many more.

  4. Brilliantly done Leif! Congrats, and I hope this inspires other faculty to LEAP out of the box too!

  5. This was a great presentation, and it was very inspiring for someone who is unsure about pursuing an artistic career. Thanks for doing this and I hope you have many more events like this to come! :)

  6. How can I join this society? Do I had ego be Canadian?