This past weekend I attended the annual meeting of my chapter of the National Cartoonists Society AKA the North Central Chapter In Omaha, Nebraska. We were treated to beautiful fall weather, great speakers and events and great company.
The speakers, meeting and events all took place in the Old Market area of downtown Omaha, a charming series of bricked streets brimming with local restaurants, pubs, shops and galleries. The event was organized by Omaha World Herald editorial cartoonist and chapter member Jeff Koterba and hosted by KANEKO. KANEKO is a combination gallery, museum studio and educational facility and is self described as “an open space for open minds that nurtures and promotes creativity in the arts, sciences, and philosophy.” It features art shows, workshops, lectures and performances to advance the arts and creativity in all forms. Jeff, along with the KANEKO folks, did an enormous amount of work to put this all together and it was a fantastic event.
The weekend started out with the “Cartoonists in the Classroom” program, where a dozen attending cartoonists were taken to one or more local high schools to talk with art classes about their work and cartooning in general. I participated in this, talking with students at Burke and Millard West High Schools on Friday afternoon. According to KANEKO the program was well received and a great success.
Our guest speaker was Josh Cooley, a story artist and director at Pixar Animation Studios who’s credits include work on “Cars”, “Ratatouille”, “UP” and the forthcoming “Cars 2”. He also directed several of the “UP” shorts called “UPisodes” and the Up extra feature “George and A.J.”. Josh did a presentation on Friday, a workshop on Saturday morning and participated in a panel discussion that afternoon. His work is superb and listening to the process that he and Pixar go through to create their brilliant films was riveting. His talk included a virtual tour of Pixar’s animation studios, which incidentally I would kill (or at least badly maim) to get to see in person, an explanation of what it is he does and examples of the process from rough ideas and story boards on through to the finished results we all enjoy on the silver screen. Josh was an entertaining speaker and it was great fun to get to hear him and take part in his workshop. As is typical when artists of his accomplishments attend something like this, everybody wanted a piece of him so I only got the briefest of chances to meet and chat with him personally. He seems like a great guy and we all appreciated his willingness to come to the midwest and share his time and work with us. I wish I had some pictures to share of this talks, but part of the deal when having a Pixar artist give a presentation is that absolutely no photos, videos or recording of any kind is allowed. Certain parts of me are still smarting from the full body cavity search they gave us prior to Josh’s talk… cartoonist Bucky Jones seemed not to mind it however, as I noticed him sneak back into line for a second helping.
Other speakers and events included:
Cartooning in the New Economy– a panel on the business side of cartooning during this trying economic time and amid the changing climate of publishing. Moderated by John Hambrock (creator of the comic strip The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee) and featuring gag cartoonist Dave Carpenter, editorial cartoonist Ed Fischer, illustrator Buck Jones and editorial cartoonist/illustrator Tom Kerr, the panel discussed how cartoonists have changed with the times to keep on earning a living.
Drawing in the House of Saddam– Cartoonist Rick Kirkman (Baby Blues) and I gave a presentation on the cartoonist’s tour to Germany, Kuwait and Iraq last fall which we both were a part of.
Sketching As Story- Moderated by Jeff Koterba and featuring Chris Browne (cartoonist on Hagar the Horrible) Josh Cooley, illustrator/animator Cedric Hohnstadt and cartoonist/illustrator/animator/you-name-it Glenn McCoy (The Duplex, The Flying McCoys), this panel discussed how storytelling is incorporated into their work and how they go about it.
We were then in for a special treat… the exhibit One Fine Sunday in the Funny pages, curated by “Stay Tooned” editor and publisher John Read was hanging in the Bemis Gallery just down the street, and the crowd sauntered over there to enjoy the show. You can read the details about the exhibit here but in short it is a collection of about 250 comic strips that all appeared in newspapers on the SAME Sunday, April 11th, 2010. I was greatly looking forward to seeing the show, and it was every bit as great as I expected.
Some pics from the exhibit:
A “Pearls Before Swine” Original
This one made me laugh out loud…
Rick Kirkman and a fan…
We also squeezed in a chapter meeting somewhere there, which included judging the 2010 Toon-Ed Award which featured some gret work in comics, comic strips, animation, editorial cartooning and illustration.
Judging the Toon Ed Award- Photo by Scott Holmes
Of course we also had a great time hanging out with other cartoonists, talking shop and eating and drinking ourselves silly. Great fun for all and a great job by Kaneko, Jeff Koterba, all the guest speakers, John Read and of course our Fearless leader, chapter chairman Mike Edholm.
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