Every year the National Cartoonist Society hosts a gala wards weekend called the Reubens at some swanky hotel. I’ve been a member since 1999, and have attended Reuben Weekends in San Antonio, New York City, Boca Raton, Cancun, San Francisco, Kansas City, Scottsdale and Chicago. This year’s awards will be held in Orlando, Florida on Memorial Day Weekend. Visit the NCS website for peeks at previous awards weekends. I wrote about last year’s Chicago experience here.
These are a lot of fun. Not only do you get to meet some serious legends and giants in the industry, but they treat you like family. It’s nothing like the National Caricaturist Network conventions, where the entire week is about trying to one-up the next guy and showing off with your drawings (there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a different vibe). The NCS is more social and just being a member commands the respect of everybody else. Yes, there is a lot of shop talk but it’s more of a celebration of the artform than anything individual.
Except for the awards themselves of course.
Each year one artist is chosen from among 3 to 5 nominees for “Cartoonist of the Year“, or the Reuben. Named after cartoonist Rube Goldberg, the Reuben is a the highest honor the society can bestow on a cartoonist. This year’s nominees are Bill Amend, Dave Coverly and Dan Piraro. There are also divisional Reubens, where individual chapters are tasked to judge the work of artists within their division and choose three nominees, one taking home the hardware at the black tie Reuben dinner on Saturday night of the weekend. Divisions include Advertising Illustration, Feature Animation, TV Animation, Book Illustration, Comic Book/Graphic Novels, Editorial Cartoons, Gag Cartoons, Greeting Cards, Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration, Newspaper Illustration, Newspaper Panel, and Newspaper Comic Strips. Just to be nominated is a huge honor. I’ve had the honor of being nominated three times for Magazine Illustration (no wins) and once for Advertising Illustration (ding, ding, ding! Winner!).
This year I am pleased to say I have been nominated for a divisional Reuben for both Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration and Advertising Illustration. Since I just found out Monday it would be imprudent of me to list the other nominees until the NCS releases an official announcement, but they are all artists with whom I am awed and humbled to be in the same group as. The phone call was a nice surprise considering I spent a good portion of the weekend doing the final art for the annual NCS Reuben T-Shirt featuring the guest speakers. That’s the image above, shown with the permission of NCS President Rick Stromoski.
On a side note this year we’ll be bringing our kids for the first time, so maybe they’ll get to see the old man take home an award. I’m not holding my breath, believe me. Either way it will be a fun time and I’m looking forward to it.
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