National Cartoonists Society Chapter Meeting

Last night I returned from a whirlwind weekend in Kansas City for the annual meeting of the North Central Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. It was a long drive back to Minneapolis (our chapter covers a very large geographical area), but it was well worth the trip.

About thirty-five professional cartoonists, illustrators, and Flash animators took part in the fun. Since Hallmark is headquartered in Kansas City we were privileged to have four of Hallmark’s artist give presentations: Stacey Lamb (whose presentation I unfortunately missed); David Mowder (a prolific licensing artist); John Wagner (creator of Maxine); and Bob Holt (creator of Hoops and Yoyo). It was really inspiring to see so many talented folks showing us their artwork and discussing their process. It really jazzed me up.

The presentations were followed with a fancy dinner capped of with a talk by Lee Salem (President and Editor of Universal Press Syndicate). Mr. Salem spoke on issues related to editorial cartooning and the controversies the cartoons can create.

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Earlier this year Bill Amend (creator of FoxTrot) was awarded the Rueben, NCS’s annual award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. This was the first time a member of our chapter has received such a high honer. To show our appreciation, Oliver Christianson presented Amend with our own award, the Golden Slide Rule.

The NCS is not only loaded with talented artists, but they are a lot of fun to hang out with. It’s really neat to meet the faces behind the talent, kick back, and talk shop. Here’s a few pics I snapped of various members:

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Bucky Jones and Ken Alvine. Two of the nicest goofballs you will ever meet.

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Chris Grine and Ted Goff. Chris was recently nominated for an Eisner award for his book Chickenhare. Ted won a Silver T-Square award from the NCS in 2001.

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Dave Mowder, licensing artist at Hallmark. Dave is a very talented artist and a whiz at backgrounds. His presentation was super inspiring. If you buy a greeting card featuring Disney characters, or a Looney Tunes Christmas ornament, there’s a good chance that Dave was involved with it.

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MAD Magazine artist Tom Richmond proudly displays a t-shirt he won at the raffle. Tom has taken weight lifting to a whole new level. That t-shirt is size XXXL.

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A few chapter members kick back and debate the deep social issues of our time such as “Which flavor of Pop Tarts is the best?” (I vote cherry.)

One of the highlights for me was the raffle. Each year artists donate sketches, artwork, books, t-shirts, etc. to be raffled off as a fundraiser. This year I had meant to sketch something for the raffle, but life just got too busy. Since I felt bad for not contributing, I purchased a few extra tickets instead. I must have purchased too many, because I walked off with a LOT of loot. I had the winning ticket a total of eight times, but after the fourth win I stopped taking the prizes and told them to draw again. I felt bad that I was winning all this great stuff and wanted to spread it around a bit.

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The prize I’m most excited about was this page of original artwork for MAD Magazine, signed by Tom Richmond. I’m not a huge fan of MAD but they have some amazing artists, including Tom. His work is incredible. This page is from a parody of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. Besides being inspiring to look at, my wife loves the show, so this will definitely be framed and hung in my studio.

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I also won a matted print of this editorial cartoon by Pullitzer-Prize winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes. The cartoon has something to do with the Scooter Libby controversy, which I know nothing about. When I got back to my hotel room I did some Googling to try and learn about it. I read several pages and I still don’t get it. But I like Telnaes’ clean, simple line style. No disrespect meant to Dick Cheney, but that’s one of the best caricatures of him I’ve ever seen.

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I also won a signed copy of Chickenhare: The House of Klaus by chapter member Chris Grine. I don’t know anything about Chickenhare (published by Dark Horse), but it was nominated for an Eisner. I really like Grine’s style, espcially his use of blacks, and am hoping I can find time to browse the book soon.

Finally, I also won a copy of MAD Magazine signed by Tom Richmond, in which he illustrated parodies of several popular commercials. More about it here.

Overall the event was a great success and I had a wonderful time. I’m very grateful to be a member of the National Cartoonists Society. Being in a group with such talented and professional people is truly humbling, and it inspires me to keep raising the bar on my own work and career.

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