Cartoon and Illustration

What New Years means to me…

Okay, forget that title.

Just thought it would be a good idea to update my blog on the first day of the year with a sarcastic jab at the sort of drivel they used to make us do in public school the day we came home from Christmas holidays (back when you could refer to them as such without anyone raising an eyebrow).

So far in the New Year I’ve answered a bunch of emails from members of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society–of which I presently serve as chairman.  Most of these were nice little notes of thanks for my New Years greeting (and in some cases for my Christmas greetings…because these things tend to pile up).  However some were more complex notes about the plans our group is making for jury duty.

Now, when I say “jury duty”, you’re probably thinking the civic type where you get called–under penalty of incarceration, torture, tax levy, etc. if you don’t show up.  But for cartoonists in the National Cartoonists Society there’s a different type of jury duty.  That is we get to look at entries sent to the NCS category awards that are given out at the annual Reuben Gathering in May.

This year the Southeast Chapter (Or SECNCS) has been chosen to jury the newspaper comic strips category.  I can’t go into much detail about the process here because A) I’ve been instructed not to, and B) we’re still working out the process we’ll be taking, when we’ll be meeting, etc.

But I do know that many of our most faithful jury members in past years are actually the newspaper comic strip artists within our chapter.  That is, many of these guys have made a regular habit of driving hundreds of miles just so they could sit in a room with a half-dozen other cartoonists and see all the nifty pieces submitted in the various categories we’ve been given over the past several years.

Backing up a bit to review–I’ve been a full NCS member since the end of 2007–which means my first “jury duty” was in late winter of 2008.  It was very cool because at that time our chapter vice-chairman was Art Roche who worked at Cartoon Network, and so we got to use one of their meeting rooms at CN and the whole place smelled like a new vinyl binder.  It was also very carefully guarded by security people (in spite of it being a Saturday with few people in the buildings).

If memory serves we were also at CN for the jury in 2009 and had great fun doing that jury as well.

But we’ve had to move the event around several times since then for any number of reasons.

We’ve since assembled at the University of Georgia School of Art, The Charlotte Observer, The Smoky Mountain News, and then last year our group was “skipped” so that we could take a break–which was actually a huge relief for me as I’d just taken over as chairman and was pretty freaked out by the prospect of putting together the jury event so soon afterward.

But I’m really excited about our chapter having been chosen to do the newspaper comic strips.  It’s actually something I’ve been working toward since being accepted into the NCS (and hoping for since I started hanging out with the chapter as a non-member way back in 2003).  While chapter vice-chairman I was constantly trying to help our chairman, Jack Pittman, increase the prestige of the SECNCS with more and more spectacular annual meetings.  Jack is responsible for bringing our group such high profile guests, but it was great to be able to work as his executive officer in helping coordinate the events.

Some years we’d see various NCS leaders show up at our annual meetings, or jury duty events:  Sergio Aragonés came to UGA; Frank Pauer (who edits the NCS magazine “The Cartoon!st”) came to our annual meeting in Asheville; and then NCS President, Tom Richmond (as well as Mason Mastroianni and Patty Hart) came to the annual meeting in Savannah!  With each new “visitor” I got the feeling that we were getting closer to our goal.

Now it’s here.

Just have to put all the pieces together.

The first puzzle piece is that we’re going to be holding our jury at UGA again.  The folks at the Lamar Dodd School of Art (in particular Alex Murawski) have offered to host two events for us in 2014!  We’ll be holding jury duty there (in an undisclosed location, of course) sometime in late winter.  Then in late summer or early autumn we’ll have our annual meeting in Athens, GA as well.

But that’s kind of beside the point–much as we appreciate the UGA hosting our group events–I’m just stoked that the SECNCS is going to be jurying the newspaper comic strip category.  So well done everyone!  We’ve finally put the SECNCS on the map.


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