A Farewell Thanks: 4 Years of being National Cartoonists Society President
September 14, 2023
New York, NY
Serving as the National Cartoonists Society President these past four years has been a privilege.
Like all bonafide US Ex-Presidents, I intend to spend my time post-presidency fending off attacks from the DOJ, FBI, the IRS, New York State, Georgia —you know. The usual.
It hasn’t been without its admittedly ridiculous challenges…
…but everything the NCS accomplished in the face of these was, and always will be, a team effort. Nothing of any consequence in any organization like this ever happens without a diligent board, an army of selfless volunteers, and an extraordinary group of supportive members.
I have always felt a deep responsibility to the past Presidents of the NCS and their hard work, making sure the NCS was match-fit for whatever is around the corner —let alone whatever challenges are on our doorstep now. The founding President of the NCS, Rube Goldberg, was an innovative visionary, and I know the NCS will continue evolving in the spirit of that vision.
Thank you to everyone who had anything at all to do with the Reuben Awards event this year.
The team was not at full capacity, and there’s no way any of it would have happened without you. It had an avoidably unpleasant final moment, but I hope it didn’t ruin the experience for everyone in attendance.
Three weeks ago, I had to say a difficult goodbye to the daily comic strip I’ve been doing for 16 years. That same week, I had to say goodbye to my father. We lost him to cancer.
Grief is a powerful thing. None of it would have been remotely bearable without my incredible wife and family, my friends, or the patience and support of my NCS family. You know who you are.
We’ve had a more challenging time this past year in particular
With the heart and soul of our NCS, Latisha, battling multiple cancers and a relentless series of serious health issues, we’ve been without the heart and soul of the NCS. Despite all of her challenges, she has fought bravely and above it all has continued to work as much as she physically can.
Everyone has been nothing but supportive, understanding, patient, and generous with us. I’m feeling very grateful to all of you. I just wanted to thank you, sincerely.
We’ve lost so many extraordinary cartoonists —extraordinary humans— in our community this past year.
There was a 15-minute break after the In Memoriam package before we went into the divisional category awards at the Reubens. It nearly broke me in half this year, for many reasons.
Saying goodbye to giants like Al Jaffee, Chris Browne, Sam Gross, George Booth, Ed Koren, John Romita Sr, and more was heartbreaking. I think Emma Allen has had to write more obituaries for the New Yorker in the past year than any cartoon editor in the past 98 years.
Seeing the names, all together, it does force one to examine the realities of this tectonic, generational shift we’re in. Iconic cartoonists who carved their own definitive paths in the artistic terrain and will be remembered forever in the styles they influenced, and in our NCS records and awards history.
That is why this organization and these awards are so very important
I confess, once upon a time I thought the awards were kind of just an excuse to get together and drink. But they’re more than just back-slapping and clinking glasses (though there’s plenty of that). We’re continuing an important thread through the history of our industry: a legacy that needs to be respected and preserved while we navigate the road ahead. The NCS is the only organization big enough to carry that record past the 77-year mark. (Though I’m aware the ACA has been around longer. 😉)
The NCS board has always been very mindful of that when making difficult decisions, shedding any redundant traditions and preserving important ones.
I truly believe there is a very deliberate balancing act that we are able to achieve in keeping the NCS moving forward and keeping these legacies alive while forging new ones for artists that haven’t been heard or seen until now, for a litany of reasons.
There is still a long way to go to expand the exposure of comic art the NCS membership is exposed to in both membership and awards voting, but we have made substantial progress. It is a task that both the NCS and the comics community at large will have to work in tandem to build, purposefully.
I’ve been very lucky to have candid and invaluable counsel from the webcomics community, past leaders of the organization, comic art teachers, and people outside in the NCS with considerably more experience than me in helping make the cartooning field vibrant and future fit.
I’m grateful to Brendan Burford, Tom Richmond, Shena Wolf, James Sturm, Ann Telnaes, Amy Lago, Nick Andersen, Keef Knight, Charlie Kochman, Sarah Anderson, Fred Nelson, Nick Seluk, Jenny Robb, Jay Kalagayan, Bill Morrison, Sam Viviano, Anne Hambrock, Lynda Barry, Sarah Alex, Caitlin McGurk, Jeff Keane, Tea Fougner, Jeff Smith, and a slew of other insightful people for their guidance, and for their generous, passionate advocacy for what I hope we can, without a smirk, refer to as the ‘cartooning industry’.
I can’t think of a more diligent, trustworthy, and competent pair of hands to steer the NCS in the right direction for the future than Karen Evans. I’m genuinely excited to see what lies ahead these next years.
Find out more about the NCS at nationalcartoonists.com