Home on Prom Night

24 May

This time of year, I always tend to get somewhat emotionally envious.  It’s a time of year where I’m home on prom night.  Or could easily be compared to being single on Valentines Day.  Why?  It’s the National Cartoonist Society Reuben’s Awards this upcoming weekend.  It’s like the Oscar’s for cartoonist.  There are awards, celebrations, tuxedos, toast and – well – I’m not there.

Above:  National Cartoonist Society emblem.  Nate will not see many of these this weekend.

I always pushed myself to be amongst that crowd that will be in Las Vegas this year attending (it does change cities every year).  Even as a child, I’ve wanted a Reuben (it’s a shiny award – again, like an Oscar).  And so one day I hope to go, even if I don’t win the thing.

To go, you must be a member of the NCS.  I’m not.  I might try to be one of these days, but first I have to probably put a few more feathers on the cap and become maybe just a bit more established.  I can honestly say I think I’m almost there, but I’d rather feel like it more myself before trying for eligibility.  There are a lot of categories with the awards, so the ones that I would go for are gag cartoons, greeting card illustrator – and, the big one – cartoonist of the year!  As for currently, I could easily win the “Not Happening this Year” category, if they had that.

What’s sad for me is the fact of the state of syndication.  That’s always been my big one to go for, yet, I’m not sure if it’s remotely possible.  What I hate about the business model of cartooning and syndication is this:  The way it is right now, I feel like there’s no room for advancement.  Unless you hit the papers 5 or more years ago, you didn’t make the ship.  It feels like being the fryer at Burger King and knowing that you will probably never be a Whopper builder.  And there’s no push to get new material in papers and it seems rather stag at the moment.  I’m hoping change is in the air, but if not, that “Cartoonist of the Year” probably isn’t too likely since there’s no place for my work to compete with work that is out there (you can be “Cartoonist of the Year” as an illustrator, designer, etc. as well, but syndicated cartoonist is what I have always wanted).  And we all know that a lot of cartoons never leave the funny pages (think Peanuts), so that makes my chances slim (for now – let’s hope SOMETHING changes with newspapers and the industry).  Those cartoons I like to call ‘Thorn in my Spine’.

I did pitch an envelope up to the NCS panel to nominate myself for a divisional award – which they’ll announce who wins that AT the Reuben’s, so I wouldn’t know if I won or not right away.  That would be cool to get.  I think I messed it up though when I submitted it.  I thought clips of my actual work would be a clearer representation, and proof of being in the newspapers, so I literally clipped out (with scissors) cartoons from the paper, taped them onto typing paper and dated each page.  Honestly, it looked kind of tacky, but I’m hoping they look through the tackiness of the submission and just enjoy the material.  We’ll see.  They didn’t send it back with a big “X” on it, so that’s good.

And something else, you know how typically if you’re a doctor, lawyer, flight attendant – whatever – you know other people in your field?  I know hardly ANY cartoonist.  We’re all scattered across this country like roaches in a tool shed.  They all come out for conventions and this.  And since I dislike conventions, I figure this would be the only time to really meet a lot of them.  I correspond with many professionals online and Facebook, but I like to actually meet people  (crazy, I know).  So, I would like people to know the face behind the work.  My visit to Universal (my syndicate) in Kansas City last year was fantastic – even with many out of the office, still, that little visit was superb to meet some of the awesome people behind the curtains and a chance for them to see my mug.

So, I will be sitting on the couch draining my sorrows this weekend as I think about the good time all of my colleagues are having.  I might dip into some wine and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas while chewing on some Gobstoppers; only hoping for maybe – just maybe – I’ll be amongst the crowd at the next gathering.  (Actually, I’m probably going out this weekend and having fun.)

Above:  Nate might be singing with them – and crying.


2 Responses to “Home on Prom Night”

  1. bearmancartoons May 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    Why aren’t you a candidate to join? You make most of your income as a cartoonist. Isn’t that the requirement.

    • w101njf May 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      I think I’m eligible, however, I will feel more eligible when I could actually afford a plane ticket to Vegas off my work. I’d like to get to that point first.

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