I’m back from our annual National Cartoonist Society North Central Chapter meeting, this year held in beautiful downtown Kansas City. It was the usual fun time, and the group of speakers were particulary interesting as they were not chapter members this time around.
I arrived later on Friday night after a 7 hour drive, but was met at the hotel bar by fellow caricaturists Len Hernandez and his wife, Mike Worley and Stacy, who’s last name I apologize but did not catch. It is always fun to hang out and chat with those who have spent their time int he live caricature trenches. We were joined by chapter member Paul Fell, and had a great time shooting the bull.
The meeting itself was short… just the way I like it. Chapter chairman Oliver Christiansen led the meeting, we discussed some issues and ideas, I was fool enough to agree to be the new chapter chair for 2008, and then we broke off for coffee.
Oliver pretending to be serious for a moment…
It was followed by four speakers from nearby Hallmark Cards, all of whom do very different work at Hallmark:
The delightful Stacey Lamb shares some of her work
You will not recognize Stacey’s name as she signs all sorts of different names to her work, but never her own. You will recognize the style, though. It is one that has been on many thousands of Hallmark cards over the years. As a traditional card artist, she spoke about her background, her influence by and the importance in her life of the work of Charles Schulz, the process of creating cards and stories like how she avoided the computer at first but now can’t live without it. Her personal story is fascinating.
Didn’t get a picture of David that turned out (damn iPhone camera), but he works in the Hallmark licensing division, doing art for cards, products and Keepsake ornaments that feature licensed characters like Looney Toons, Disney, Hanna Barbara. Peanuts and others. He is a terrific artist and has designed countless products and toys with these characters, but never gets any credit for the work as it’s licensed property. He showed slides of his concept drawings and the resulting sculptures, ornaments and plush dolls as well as cards he’d done. Must be cool to sit around and draw Bugs Bunny all day, and especially to see your work brought to life in three dimensions.
John Wagner discusses how big his share of “Maxine” profits are….
John created the immensely popular character “Maxine” for Hallmark and continues to work on that property for them to this day. He relayed the interesting story of how the “Shoebox” division of Hallmark was created as a response to the growing market of “alternative humor” cards that was eating into Hallmark’s sales, how Maxine got started and had lots of stories of the crazed fans of Maxine and their antics.
Bob Holt trying to figure out how to get those Quicktime movies to play
Bob works with animated eCards, one of the fastest growing areas of the greeting card business. He created “Hoops and Yoyo“, two nutty cartoon characters that star in their own line of eCards. His flash animations are funny and well done, and he shared some hysterical early animated card ideas that got rejected by the Hallmark folks, like a talking belly button. Great stuff.
After dinner we were treated to a talk by Lee Salem, the President of Universal Press Syndicate.
Lee explains the relationship between his blood pressure and Doonesbury
Lee’s general message was about how the fear of offending readers was becoming a part of the decline of the newspaper business. He regaled us with some great stories of how two of his most famous syndicated artists, Garry Trudeau and Pat Oliphant, offended people with their cartoons and how they handled it. He illustrated how in today’s P.C. world people don’t write in to say they are offended by a cartoon and this is why they don’t agree, but instead write in to say that the newspaper has no right to offend them and should not have run the cartoon. He argued that if cartoons never offend anybody they are basically saying nothing, and I could not agree more.
Finally Oliver presented chapter member Bill Amend of Foxtrot fame with a gag gift to honor him for winning THE Reuben for “Cartoonist of the Year” at the Reuben awards last May.
That is arguably the highest honor you can get as a cartoonist (the Reuben, not our little gag award…), and it couldn’t have gone to a nicer guy. After that is was the annual raffle of original art, and then party time.
These events are open to non members, and chapter members are not required to be members of the main NCS, or even professional cartoonists. I will post info in plenty of time about where and when next year’s even will be held, so interested parties might be able to attend. We’ll have a number of guest speakers again and other fun stuff.
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