Reubens – Days Two/Three

12:15 – After an hour on the train, and a half hour hiking to the hotel, I’ve met Mikey and dropped off my tux in his room and circulation has returned to my hanger-hampered fingers again. I’ve met editorial cartoonist Bob Rich, chatted for a second about the serpentine maze from the water cooler to the bathroom, and found a place in the Locher thing to plug in my laptop.

12:20 – I have to admit, I’m not one of these cartoonists who knows the whole history of the art. Heck, I probably couldn’t even tell you who does many of the current strips, much less any older ones. I don’t know anything about Locher, and precious little about Dick Tracy, but I’m just happy to surrounded by this great cartoon energy.

12:32 – Some of Chester Gould’s family are speaking. His daughter thanked Locher for his work on the strip.

12:35 – It took 1921-1931 and 60 different strip ideas for Gould before his 61st effory, “Plainclothes Tracy” has its name shortened.

12:40 – His grandson, Tracy, (no kidding!) is speaking now about Gould’s energy and charisma.

12:42 – His granddaughter is speaking now about how proud she is that Dick Tracy goes on.

12:45 – Introducing Locher. Apparently 1983 was a good year for Locher – a Pulitzer, and taking over Tracy.

12:50 – Locher has a great overhead presentation.

Great story about Kissinger coming to see him and asking for a caricature Locher was trying to hide.

(I gotta go see the Tracy museum in Woodstock now.)

Locher refers to editorial cartoonists as the “towel snappers of journalism.” I gotta think of something similar for gag cartoons.

Shows a great cartoon about the social security crisis as the bat signal, and a child dressed as Batman for Halloween. Nearby parents say to the boy “You’re needed, son.”

Another great cartoon with Clinton behind his desk. On it is a plaque reading “Slick Happens.”

Says his editor told him to “be controversial, but don’t make my phone ring” and talks about a cartoon shutting down the Trib and prompting death threats. Wow.

Speaking about working as Gould’s assistant. Says Gould wanted him to draw a realistic machine gun for the last panel and gave him an old German machine to take with him. Locher was stopped by a policeman who wanted to see what was in the brown paper package as he crossed the loop. After putting Locher in the back of the squad car, the officer told him Gould had called and told them to give him a ride to the station.

Shows some paintings and a bronze sculpture. Wow!

Locher ends by saying editorial cartoonists are like blind javelin throwers. “We don’t win many awards but we keep the crowd alert.” What a great speech!

1:15 – That was a lot of fun, and I learned a ton about a local cartoonist I had no clue about. I still have SO much to learn.

1:20 – I think I hear Lynch behind me… I have a half hour until the next seminar. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

1:25 – Got up and got some water. Came back and rifled through my briefcase for about two minutes before I realized it wasn’t mine and found the correct one a few rows back. Yeesh!

1:40 – I talk with Lynch and another cartoonist about how filthy my glasses are. It’s true, my specs are really nasty.

1:45 – Everett Peck is introduced. “He’s been up, he’s been down, he’s fallen asleep with the TV on.”

1:50 – Talking about early influences in animation, “Big Daddy” Roth and “crummy war comics.” They just got his mic to work – thank God!

Showing some of his sketchbook stuff.

Now we’re into illustrations.

Shows Duckman’s first appearance as a magazine cover for the LA Times.

This is some pretty neat stuff, although, honestly, it’s a little above me. I don’t think I’ll ever be a true illustrator, at least not like this.

There’s not a lot of explanation in this presentation. A lot of slides, but not a lot to go with them.

Now he’s showing some art he does just for himself. Neat stuff, and it makes me think; I never do art just for my own satisfaction. Well, that’s not true since I work mostly on spec, I guess. Does all that stuff I hoped to sell, that never did, count as “just for me?”

Showing some paintings his wife buys as thrift shops that he adds his own art on top of. What a great idea!

Tries to do one painting a day just for fun. Good God, I wish I had that kind of time!

Now showing a lot of stuff in which he uses classic animation characters. Kind of a mash-up idea.

Now he’s showing chairs he paints. I wonder if I’ll ever be this creative.

Now some Duckman stuff. The clips are obscenely loud!

Thanks God someone finally turned a knob, now I can listen without grimacing.

How did I miss this show? Maybe I’ll have to check it out sometime. Who’s the voice? I know I know it!

A short animation entitled “Idiot Box.” So another animator is getting into this kind of stuff. (Note to self – get cracking on Flash more often.)

Another short animation with a handyman cutting off his fingers on a table saw. Really funny!

Another show called “Stinky Pierre.”

Now a show that’s premiering on Cartoon Network this weekend entitled “Squirrel Boy.” It’s kind of a long clip and not as funny or interesting as Duckman.

3:00-ish (?) – It’s at this point that I pretty much stopped blogging for the day.

Mikey and I went across the street, got some sandwiches at PotBelly’s and chat for a good while. Then some more chatting in the hotel lobby.

Some guys in spiky leather walk by occasionally, and it’s not the McCoy brothers.

Tom Stiglich passes by with a different local paper every half hour or so. He tells us of his $99 tux that he’s wearing tonight. I can’t wait to see it.

5:30-ish to 6:15-ish – Mike and I get our tuxes on and head down to the pre-award cocktail party thingy. My orange vest looks great!

6:20 – I roam around the room and talk to a few people, but mostly I roam. Adrian Sinnott and I chat for a good while and he seems interested in my stuff.

8:00-ish – We head in and sit down at our table. I’m sitting with Mike, Tony Murphy, Roy Schneider, Don Orehek, a guy who’s an assistant to Jim Davis, and assorted spouses.

The salad and dinner was good, and the dessert had a little piece of white chocolate with the NCS logo on it. Mmm… NCS…

The awards started really late. 9:00 or so? Maybe later? Stromoski’s speech is OK, and Piraro starts things off with “another damn song” that’s still rattling around in my head. Damn you Piraro!

Locher gets his award and says a few words. Then Ralph Steadman is introduced and there’s a really really long video clip before he speaks.

And speak he does! 15-20 minutes of socio-political ramblings that prompt more than a few people to get up and leave. Apparently some were offended, I was just kind of bored.

The awards are (in addition to being cut and pasted from The Daily Cartoonist) in no particular order, as follows:

Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year: Mike Luckovich

Milton Caniff Award for Lifetime Achievement: British illustrator Ralph Steadman

Silver T-Square award: Dick Locher

Advertising Illustration: Roy Doty

Animation Feature: Nick Park, Director “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”

Animation Television : Davis Silverman, “The Simpsons”

Book Illustration: Ralph Steadman

Comic Books: Paul Chadwick, “Concrete, The Human Dilemma”

Editorial Cartoons: Jim Borgman, Cincinnati Enquirer

Gag Cartoons: Glen McCoy

Greeting Cards: Gary McCoy

Magazine Feature, Magazine Illustration: C.F. Payne

Newspaper Illustration: Bob Rich

Newspaper Panels: Jerry Van Amerongen “Ballard Street”

Newspaper Strips: Brook McEldowney, “9 Chickweed Lane”

Let’s see… I was really glad to see Jim Borgman win, not only because I love his art, but because he was really nice to me the other night.

The McCoy brothers made a spectacle of Glen’s win (or was it Gary’s) that I’ll post pics of in a day or so.

Also notable was Lynn Johnston making out with Dan Piraro, Steadman’s humorously expletive-laden but mercifully short second acceptance speech, and Mike Luckovich reminding us all how much Mort Drucker influenced us all.

12:00 – The night is over and I catch a cab back to Union Station to make sure I can catch my train.

On the ride, a number of people ask why I’m so dressed up and I explain my career and the Reubens in 25 words or less. You know what was neat? Everyone, and I mean everyone I talked to thought being a cartoonist is a really cool job. And you know what? It is.

There’s nothing I’d rather do.

OK, so this post is a few days late, but for a guy with a potty-training two-year-old and a newborn, you gotta admit this is fairly timely.

I didn’t end up going back for the Guisewite roast and had Mikey over to the Anderson compound for X3, BBQ’d sausage burgers and beer the next day. It was great to finally have him meet the family unit.

All in all it was a really great weekend. I’m tired, but invigorated and I’m looking forward to slinging some ink this week.

Rumors are circulating about the location for next year’s Reubens, and it sounds like a great idea. See you all next time!

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Reubens – Day One

3:20 – OK, so I’m finally here. I found the hotel, registration, bathroom, and ballroom without a single wrong turn. I’m sitting waiting for the 3:30 thingy with Dick Locher to start.

I always feel kinda weird at things like these. I mean, no one is going to know who I am, despite the fact that my name tag reads “Andertoons.” What the hell was I thinking having that put on there? The woman who checked me in asked what it was, and I stammered “it’s my brand. And my website.” She had no freaking idea what I was talking about. I’m not much a meet & greet kinda guy, so wish me luck tonight.

3:28 – The thing with Elwood Smith is about to start. Sergio Aragones is talking to Lynn Johnston about ten feet away. Too weird.

3:29 – BTW, my nametag has both “New Member” and “First Timer” ribbons on it. I feel like a complete dork.

3:33 – Elwood Smith is starting his talk. There’s a lot of mic checking, etc…

3:41 – I just realized, where’s the Dick Locher thing?! Of course I’m happy to be digging me some Elwood, but this was unexpected. I know Mike is gonna be pissed he missed this.

3:42 – It’s interesting that people just shout out funny things here.

3:43 – Elwood is showing his high school yearbook artwork and lots of slides of early influences.

3:45 – Elwood reads touching passage his high school teacher penned in his yearbook. She begins it “Famous Artist – “, lauds his talents and predicts great success. Sergio yells out “I got the same letter!” Gotta Love him.

3:47 – Early stuff with a lot of cross-hatching.

3:50 – Now he’s talking about how he fell back in love with his roots (Herriman, Gallagher, Goldberg, etc…) and developed his current style.

3:51 – Pictures of his band. I’m not kidding. He also mentions that, like Herriman, he owns a Scottish Terrier and plays the mandolin. Aragones yells out that they also share the same wife. LOL! I’d love to be able to yell out stuff like that, but I’m so new here I think I’d be escorted out.

3:52 Now we’re into his work. Some early stuff for the Trib.

3:56 – Elwood talks about how he admires serious artists and clarifies that “I’m not a cartoonist.”

4:00 – Some vector art he created in ToonBoom. Kinda weird, but interesting.

4:01 Talks about how he believes his strength is inventing his own world. I agree, and hope I do the same.

He also talks about Drawger(?) Apparently an illustration blog I’ve not heard of. Gotta check it out.

Hey! Like me, he’s delving into learning animation. Neat!

4:02 – Questions begin –

Someone’s asking about pen nibs.

Elwood talks about imitators.

Introduces his wife Maggie as his agent – “And you trust her?” yells Sergio.

When asked about aping a live person’s style versus a dead artist’s, Elwwod says we’ll “talk about it at the bar.”

He discusses marketing via the big books and such. Says he hasn’t done any in a while and finds postcards to be successful. Gotta try some of that this year.

4:09 – A small showcase of some of his own animation, and some inspired by his art. Neat stuff.

4:20 – Mentions that he just does animation for his own satisfaction and that he doubts Bill Plympton is terrified. LOL.

4:25 – It’s over and everyone’s mingling again.

4:30 – Hit the bathroom and noticed King Features’ Jay Kennedy a few stalls over. I wash my hands thoroughly, say hi and remind him of my New Breed work. He said he remembered my stuff, but most likely he remembered me as the guy who kept calling about my submissions. That’ll show him to write encouraging notes.

4:50 – Starbucks – Jay and Hilary Price (I think) are outside the window here as I enjoy a Mocha Frappasomething and a scone. I think he’s tailing me… :

5:00 – Just got off the phone with Margie and Henry’s trying to poke holes in his underwear with his toes. I miss everyone.

5:15 – I’m considering that Jay being five feet away again is an omen to slip him some cartoons, but I bet he hates that. So, I’m not going to. Am I missing out on an opportunity? Probably, but if I were him I’d think I was a dick, so that’s that.

5:16 – I just about spilled my entire frappuccino on my shirt. Close call.

5:25 – Mike Lynch just called and he’s about 25 minutes away on the train. I head back into the hotel lobby and find a place to plug in my laptop. I’ve taken off my name tag to avoid looking like more of a dork than I am.

5:52 – I’ve rewritten my blog notes to make sense and now I’m gonna wait for Lynch to arrive.

10:38 – Whew, what a night! Let’s see… First I met my cartoon compatriot, Mike Lynch, in the lobby and we hung out in his hotel room for a bit.

Although we’ve been close friends for years, this was the first time we actually met in person! Crazy, eh?

We headed down to the cocktail party/dinner and, at first, I gotta tell you, I was a tad out of my element. I’m not very good in big social situations like this, especially when I’m surrounded by the best and the brightest in the business. Mike, however, has preternatural social instincts and chats up pretty much everyone with ease. I was really glad to have him by my side.

After a little bit, though, I relaxed and found myself chatting with some greats:

Jules Feiffer, Mort Drucker, John Reiner, Don Orehek, Dan Piraro, and more. But I think the absolute highlight of the evening was when a gentleman saw me meandering by and said “hey, are you that Andertoons guy?” I sheepishly answered yes and wondered who here could possibly recognize me, much less by the “Andertoons” on my nametag, when he introduced himself as Jim Borgman.

Yep, that Jim Borgman.

He and his wife told me that she had come across my cartoons and had told Jim he should check them out. Jim said he really liked my work and the site and just couldn’t have been nicer. (He even knew about my hot sauce!)


Not only did he like my stuff, but he actually knew who I was. It was definitely the high point of the evening and gave me the confidence boost I needed.

Now I’m riding home on the train trying to type through the bumping and swerving of the Metra, and although I’m a little tired, I’m so SO glad I attended tonight. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Wish me luck with the late night baby feedings tonight…

(BTW, I’ll throw some pictures up in the next few days.)

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Goodbye Old Friend

I’m sad to say I’ve had to put down one of my oldest and most reliable of companions; my old pencil sharpener.

I’m a pencil nut. I love love LOVE really sharp pencils. And they have to be a very specific kind.

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Anyway, before I had a permanent workspace, I used to create my cartoons at the coffee table in our old house’s living room, which meant pretty much everything for cartooning had to be small and mobile. Hence my battery powered pencil sharpener.

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This thing was a workhorse and has been at my side for about as long as I’ve been cartooning professionally. But, sadly, something went kablooey the other day, and now I have to lay it to rest. Sniffle.

Goodbye old friend.

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On an up note, after some recent browsing at Staples I’ve adopted a new sharpener (same breeder, BTW) and my pencils are sharp once more. And, thanks to shelving my gypsy ways, this one can stay plugged in and in one place.

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I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Andertoons At Tower Records

I was renting my tux for the Reubens the other day, and browsed around a Tower Records in the same strip mall for a bit.

Not to sound arrogant, but by this point I’m pretty used to seeing my cartoons in magazines and newspapers, but greeting cards are still pretty new for me, so seeing some of my cards in a rack for the first time warranted some cell phone pics.

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I gotta wonder what the surly goth teen stocking the nearby magazines was thinking while I snapped these.

Anyway, always cool to see your cartoons in a new venue.

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