By Ed Black
Ah'm walkin' to N'awlins (saxophone)... walkin' to N'awlins (solo saxophone again)... Those are the lyrics to a hit Fats Domino song from 1960 or so. For the uninitiated, Fats Domino was a blues singer who had several hit records in the late '50s and early '60s who was a native of New Orleans -- "Blueberry Hill," "Ain't That a Shame," "Walkin' To New Orleans," and several others.
Members of the GLC didn't walk there; they flew, drove or rode the train to attend the 2008 Reuben Awards weekend May 23 to 25th at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
In fact, a member of the GLC won a division award. Daryll Collins, co-chairman of the GLC, was chosen as Best Cartoonist of 2007 in the Magazine Illustration/Feature illustration division. Daryll was presented his plaque by Bill Amend, creator of the "Foxtrot" strip. Collins, 51, lives in Mainevile, Ohio, with his wife, Marilyn, who works at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati.
A native of Girard, Ohio, between Warren and Youngstown, Daryll graduated from Youngstown State University in 1981, then headed for Columbus for studies for a short while at the Columbus College of Art & Design. He landed several staff artist jobs in Columbus including work for WCMH-TV, the city's NBC affiliate. He applied at Gibson Greeting Cards in Cincinnati and was hired. He free-lanced on the side, picking up some lucrative clients. In 1988 he decided to free-lance full-time and has been at it ever since.
Daryll did this in the middle of the computer revolution and had to learn the various aspects of graphic design, Photoshop and Illustrator by trial and error. "Those were trying times," he said, but it eventually did come to him and now he has to upgrade his equipment every two years or so "because the technology is always changing." Congratulations to Daryll from the GLC.
Another member of the GLC was up for an award. Dave Coverly ("Speed Bump" panel) was among the three candidates for the Reuben Award. The award went to venerable cartoonist Al Jaffee who is probably most noted for his Mad magazine "Fold-In" feature. Dan Piraro ("Bizzaro" panel) was also a candidate for the Reuben. In his remarks, Jaffee said, "I suspect someday the two others people up for this award will be up here (the stage) to accept it."
For the first time, the NCS handed out the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Award. The winner receives $5,000.00 from the NCS Foundation. Over 200 applications from students came in by the January 31,2008, deadline ably managed by Bill Hinds ("Tank McNamara" & "Cleats"), then turned over to a committee for the selection. Hinds was lauded for his effort at the NCS General Membership Meeting. The first winner of the Jay Kennedy Memorial was Juana Medina, a native of Columbia. After high school graduation in 1998, she came to America and his now studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and does editorial cartoons for a magazine published by RISD and Brown University.
The Silver T-Square award was presented to Attorney Stuart Rees for his efforts in helping NCS members and the NCS with contracts, setting up the NCS Foundation with money willed to the NCS by two cartoonists and a promoter, and of his current efforts to defeat a bill pending in Congress which weakens copyright laws among other things.
The Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sandra Boynton, a highly successful greeting card designer who has branched out into childrens' books and kid songs recorded by the likes of Neil Sedaka, the current Grateful Dead, B.B. King, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Patty LuPone & Steve Lawrence.
Members of the GLC who attended the events in New Orleans were: Chapter Chairman Craig Boldman, Steve Boreman & his wife Julie, Jerry & Geri Dowling, Don Peoples, Earl Musik, Polly Keener & her daughter Whitney, Ed Black, Jeff Stahler with wife Jeani, Terri Libenson & her husband Michael Davis, Lucy Caswell & her husband Jeff, Jenny Robb, Joe Wos, Rob Rogers and vice chairman Daryll Collins, & his wife Marilyn, Jenny Campbell, Rob Harrell and his wife Amber, Dave Coverly & Roy Doty.
This year's Reuben Awards weekend was unique in that over 200 NCS members & their families volunteered to help Habitat For Humanity. Many homes were destroyed or heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of a levy near the lower 9th Ward where several people died. The NCS volunteers were taken to three sites in St. Bernard Parish to help nail down shingles and put up siding on houses under construction from 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Dave Coverly, Don Peoples and Ed Black pitched in at a house on Rose St. while Jerry Dowling worked at another location. When the tired, sunburned volunteers returned to the Ritz-Carlton by bus, other NCS members & the hotel employees including the manager lined up from the entrance to past the desk and applauded those who returned from their Habitat for Humanity efforts. What a welcome!
After a shower and perhaps a nap (yessss!) it was time for the cocktail party where such regular fare as pulled shredded beef and bowtie spaghetti was served, but on the opposite side of the room was the standard New Orleans tasty fare: jambalaya, gumbo, red beans & rice (yessss!). This writer had an experience of his own. On a table was a long sheet of paper where the cartoonists could add a drawing. As this writer drew a two-panel item showing his characters arriving in New Orleans in panel 1, one of them says "Wow! Here we are in new Orleans! I'm going to get me some jambalaya, gumbo, red beans & rice & fried allegator." In panel 2, the other replyed, "I think I'll just have a slice of apple pie and a cuppa coffee." While doing this, the roll of paper fell off of the table and onto the floor. A waiter happened by, rolled it up & placed it back on the table, then stopped and stared as I was doing my drawing. When I finished, he smiled, shook my hand and said, "You made my day!" A rough sketch made with a Sharpie so impressed that man. Who says cartooning is not powerful?
The next day -- Saturday -- came the seminars which, as they usually are, were interesting.
Veteran magazine cartoonist Mort Gerberg said when he entered magazine cartooning, he was warned the magazine market was dying. This was in 1964. He made the legendary "Wednesday rounds" of dropping off cartoons at the various magazine offices and picking up hoping to find a check in the pickup batch. Twenty years later when the magazine market was still "dying" -- and he was still selling -- he wrote a book, The Art & Business of Cartooning, which, with revisions, is still popular today.
Mort showed clips from when he was on a local New York TV news show where he sat at a drawing board, drew and explained his cartoons (When was the last time a cartoonist was invited to appear on a local TV station?). He also drew a comic strip for a couple of years about a female office worker, "Lokey," written by Richard O'Brian. He drew ads for Brooks Bros. clothing, Fidelity Investments, a promo for the popular HBO series The Sopranos, & Motorola Cellphones. Now he draws mostly for The New Yorker, & has written several books, including his latest, "Lost Laughs."
"Cartooning may be dying,'' Gerberg concluded, "but we'll (the cartoonists) keep on going."
Sandra Boynton said while attending a Childrens literature class at Yale in 1972, her instructor, Maurice Sendak, told her her drawings looked like greeting card art. So, she said, she started drawing greeting cards. She began humbly. Her printer uncle would run off the cards and she would hand-color each one to sell to stores herself. She later attended a greeting card trade show, but the offers did not satisfy her. Later, Recycled Paper Products made an offer which she accepted and her career took off. She has sold millions of greeting cards over the years through that company. She also branched out in drawing her own children's books and of late writes children's songs, sung by noted singers, which can be found in bookstores rather than CD shops because her books are well-known.
That night was the Reuben Awards cocktail party & banquet. Among the division award winners not already mentioned:
For the first time in a very long time, Mort Walker couldn't come to the Reuben Award weekend, so the Reuben was handed out by Mell Lazarus.
When the Reuben banquet ended, some members went to their rooms & others ventured out to the French Quarter & Bourbon St. a few blocks away.
Next day's seminars included Nancy Goldstein and Mark Tatulli. Nancy Goldstein is a doll collector who wanted to research the Patty Jo & Ginger dolls which she did at the University of Michigan in her home town of Ann Arbor. She discovered these dolls were in a comic strip drawn by an AfricanAmerican woman from Pittsburgh, Jackie Ormes. Her research resulted in the book, Jackie Ormes, The First African-American Woman Cartoonist. Ormes, she found out, drew exclusively for African-American newspapers because they were prohibited from working for or appearing in mainstream newspapers at the time. Patty Jo &Ginger were the characters in her strip of the same name, drawn from 1945 to 1956 and headquartered at the Pittsburgh Courier. Before that, she did a strip, "Torchy Brown," about a young girl who strived to become a singer at the Cotton Club in Harlem. The character resembled Jackie Ormes.
Goldstein said Ormes was investigated by the FBI in the early '50s because of opinions expressed in the Patty Jo strip about such issues as equal education, jobs for women, President Truman, the atomic bomb. Goldstein obtained Ormes's 287-page FBI file and found that nothing came of the investigation. They were only interested in possible communist influences and knew that Ormes belonged to several art organizations in Chicago where some members were communists. Goldstein said Orms was never called before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee to testify.
As a high school student in Monogahela, Pennsylvania, Goldstein said Orms took the C.L. Landon Cartoon Correspondence course, which so many successful cartoonists had done as teen-agers, and drew cartoons for her high school newspaper -- as so many successful cartoonists had done as teen-agers.
She married Carl Ormes and lived for a short while in his hometown of Salem, Ohio, then moved to Chicago where he managed hotels catering to blacks since they were not permitted to stay at the same hotels as white people. She became a reporter-for the Chicago Defender but her heart was in cartooning. She created a panel, "Candy," which lasted four months.
The couple had a daughter whose life ended tragically, of brain cancer at age 3. Goldstein said Ormes never got over the death of her daughter.
Ormes was wracked by the maladies of aging. Her arthritis was so bad she had to have her knuckles replaced to keep on drawing. Carl Ormes died in 1976; Jackie Ormes died in 1985. Goldstein said it took six yeaars of research to gather the information for her book. The Ormes family in Salem, Ohio will hold its 125th family reunion July 25, 2008. Goldstein is invited to attend.
A few years ago, Mark Tatulli was laid off from a Philadelphia art firm. With a wife and two kids to support hehad to act fast. Now he does two comic strips, "Heart of the City" and "Lio."
"I always wanted to do comic strips," he said. At age 11 he submitted a strip to a syndicate which, of course, was rejected. He was told to stay away from monsters & vampires. "That was the worst advice I'd ever received," he said. He created a pantomime strip, "Mr. Phipps," for the one-man Lew Little Syndicate which appeared in three papers and through which he earned $50.00 a week. Then came "Bent Halos." The papers that feature appeared in through the Lew Little Syndicate brought in $200.00 a month,
In 1998 Tatulli created another strip, "Heart of the City," which he submitted to Universal Press Syndicate. He got a call from Lee Salem at Universal Press Syndicate. It began in November, 1998 with 56 papers; by January it was in 88 papers.
In 2005, Tatulli created Lio. He only had time to create six dailies and one Sunday strip to show Salem at the Reuben Awards Weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona at an 8 AM meeting with Salem. Salem said he couldn't sell a strip with that small number of samples and to prepare more, which Tatulli did once he arrived home from Scottsdale. He prepared 30 dailies in two weeks and sent them to Universal. The strip sold. Lio was launched in May, 2006 and now appears in 300 papers. He considers Lio an offbeat strip. "I tend to not only push the envelope," Tatulli said, "but knock it over the ledge at times." He said 70% of his time is spent working on Lio. "It's a pantomime strip and pantomime is a challenge. "You have to make suee the readers get it quickly." He said he spells the character's name L-I-O because readers can look it up quickly online and not have Leo DiCaprio or Leo Durocher show up. He uses a brush to draw Heart of the City on paper and uses a pencil for Lio.
Then around 6:30 pm Sunday came another unique experience for the cartoonists and their families: the "Second Line Parade." They all gathered at the rear lobby of the Ritz-Carlton and gathered up beads and dawned hats and masks with feathers. A jazz combo warmed up just inside the rear door. The cartoonists also downed the traditional New Orleans concoction, "hurricanes." Outside along the curb was a mule-drawn wagon holding Reuben Award winners Al Jaffe & Jack Davis. What gives? The jazz band marched outside to Iberville St. to lead the way followed by the carriage then the NCS with their hats & feathered masks on, beads at the ready to toss to passers-by, then east on Bourbon St.to Boussard's eeknowned eatery at Bourbon St. & Rue Conti where the cartoonists ejoyed a fine buffet either on the patio or inside. When the waiters later got wind of who was there, they brought napkins around for the cartoonists to draw their characters. And they saved them! Again, the power of cartooning.
The next day, the cartoonists loaded up their suitcases and caught shuttles for the Louis Armstrong Airport for flights north, east and west. Some stayed on for a day or two and Polly headed for the railroad station. Reuben Awards weekend 2008 is one that will be fondly remembered for a long, long time.
The National Cartoonists
Society 62nd Annual