Giant cartoon created at Norfolk Makers Festival to go on display

A giant adventure cartoon created by more than 200 people during the Norfolk Makers Festival will be going on display at The Forum, in Norwich.

The cartoon strip was brought to life with the help of professional cartoonist David Shenton over four days at the festival, based on the theme of protecting our oceans from plastic pollution.

Visitors of all ages were encouraged to grab a marker pen and contribute to the colourful design, and now the completed piece will be going on display at The Forum from Friday, March 13 to Monday, March 16.

Mr Shenton, who worked as a cartoonist for newspapers, magazines and journals, said: “I was asked what activity I could do at this year’s festival and Norwich’s longest cartoon strip was the first thing I thought of.

“I just turned up with rolls of lining paper and tons of marker pens. There was no theme to start with but I wanted to keep the characters simple so anybody could draw them, so we did a snake called Sandy.

“Sandy started life as a space snake with a goldfish bowl helmet on and was yellow and green striped, sometimes wearing a Norwich City scarf. The space theme disappeared very quickly and Sandy then became a sea snake who travelled the oceans meeting friends playing with bits of plastic. That’s how the story developed into an ecological plea to humans to clean up our seas.

“It was terrific seeing how all the young people knew about the perils of pollution in our oceans – even the youngest artists who took part! They drew all kinds of marine creatures in danger and on the last day they came up with amazing answers on how to rectify the problem and to clean up the mess people have created.”

The finished cartoon is about 80 yards long and is being displayed around the glass balcony on the first floor of the The Forum building.

Mr Shenton said: “We were aiming for it to be as long as the front of City Hall, which is about 115 yards. We intended to unfurl it there at the end of the festival, but unfortunately the weather was too stormy.

“I’m quite sure there must have been longer cartoon strips done in the city at one time or another, but we gave it our best shot.  It would be great to know if anything like this has ever been recorded somewhere!

“It will be lovely to see the cartoon hanging in The Forum as a finished piece of artwork with this heartfelt message. I’ve had to cut some squares out of the strip in order for it to fit around the balcony, but I have taped the edited drawings together in the hope there is a space somewhere where they can be seen too!”