CONFERENCE CARTOONING

Robert Duncan invests a little time…

Scary-RidesI don’t know about you (well I might do a little) but I have certain words and expressions that throw me into bewilderment so consequently I turn off rather. Examples: sealed unit, fiscal year, cam shaft, lattice work, keyboarding and anything to do with sausages. The last one doesn’t actually fit into the category under discussion, it was just the first thing I thought of.

Anyway, a lovely conference cartooning job turned up which boasted one of these worrying phrases – investor relations. Now I have handled most of these gigs, which are important to Cathy’s lifestyle, quite easily – even road building and colostomy care, but this one struck me as the sort of thing that might need a crammer course in finance, a lengthy teach-in on company law or something, or at least fighting my way through a few dozen puzzling acronyms to discover the truth.

But time was short, and the wonderful society who had seen something in me that I didn’t even see in myself, gave me the job of (b) turning up at their seminar, and (a) making one of my speed drawing films to promote it on their website, YouTube, and anywhere else they could think of.

So it was arranged. A fantastic London marketing co agreed to sponsor me, have their name printed on every cartoon I did, and promote my results on their stand at the event, and a great big television that was to be constantly updated – as I rapidly provided wise, intuitive and witty takes on how the day was unfolding.

And that is why I was creeping around my lovely house, trying hard not to wake up my lovely wife or my lovely boys, at 5.30 in the morning. And that is why I got the 6.23 from Haddenham which took me nonstop to Marylebone just thirty seven minutes later. And (bear with me) that is why I was in Kings Cross, set up, pen in hand, ready to go, at 7.45am.

I attended the first meeting in total bewilderment. They showed my little speed drawing film big screen in front of about five hundred people (and it looked totally fab) and the creme de la creme of the investment industry started to spout on about where the investor relations business is today. And you know what? I began to understand it. It was pretty much you go to someone, tell them about your idea, and they back it (or don’t). So I started scribbling away at high speed, and by lunchtime had produced fourteen apparently funny, quirky and useable single frame mono cartoon gags. Inspired and driven forth by many complimentary reactions I worked through lunch, stopping only briefly to demolish a Danish and a cappuccino, and by 5pm had finished about twenty five drawings. Throughout the day these had been taken away every ten minutes by a nice bloke called Graham, and the next time I saw them they were on a big screen TV for all to see, and catch the admiring glances of the wealthy and friendly delegates.

I had spent a great day on the exhibition stand of MerchantCantos, with two ladies, Amanda and Olivia, who spurred me on to great things.

At the cocktail session afterwards I happily plied them with Prosecco (which was free anyway) and welcomed loads of people who told me how clever I was, and how I could see a situation from a new, interesting and obtuse angle. I liked them all, can’t think why…

I have done these conference cartoon days on obvious subjects, like Volkswagen and World Wildlife, with all the visual opportunities they present – but it’s also great fun to turn up, not knowing what the hell you’re doing, and make it work.

71? Why don’t you retire? No way – I’ve only just started…