THE country's best cartoonists will gather in Newcastle this weekend to celebrate The Stanley Awards and help launch an arts initiative for the city.
The annual awards, organised by the Australian Cartoonists' Association, will run in conjunction with an exhibition featuring the artists' work related to the theme "Timelines".
President of the association Ginger Meggs, cartoonist Jason Chatfield, said it was the first time the awards had been to Newcastle, to his mind.
"It's pretty rare that we'll have all the country's best cartoonists in the same room," he said.
"We'll also have the art director of MAD magazine [Sam Viviano] coming from New York and Alexander Stitt, who has been prolific in the industry for a long time."
More than 80 artists will attend the celebrations at Lovett Gallery tonight and participate in a "live drawing" session where they will contribute creations to a large double-sided wall. The night will also help launch The Big Draw Newcastle.
In a first for the city The Big Draw will stretch from Honeysuckle to Newcastle Art Gallery in January next year, to encourage people to create artworks through a range of workshops.
A special tribute to famous Newcastle Herald cartoonist Les Lumsden, who worked between 1947 and 1977, will also accompany the exhibition.
His niece, Lea Lawler, will present the artworks, some of which have never been seen before.
She said it would be a great chance for locals to rediscover his work.
"He was a very well known and very loved man in Newcastle from memory," she said. "He was also very special in my life."
Herald cartoonist Peter Lewis will open the Timelines exhibition tonight at the Newcastle Region Library's Lovett Gallery at 5.30pm.
Celebrations for the Stanley Awards will continue tomorrow night at Wests Mayfield for a private dinner.