Sunday Mailbag- Cartooning/Caricature Awards?

March 15th, 2015 | Posted in General

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: I just watched the NCS awards banquet on your site (thanks for posting!), and just attended my forth International Society of Caricature Artists convention. How do these organizations differ regarding choosing award recipients, if at all? At ISCA members vote for the winner of the coveted Noseys. Is this the same with NCS–do members vote or are Reuben recipients chosen by elected board members?

A: They are very different. The questioner knows all about the ISCA awards, but I’ll fill readers in on both.

The International Society of Caricature Artists (ISCA) hold an annual convention and competition each year. At the event, competing artists set up in a huge ballroom and draw each other for four days. Each person has a designated wall space on which to post the work they did (or at least the pieces they liked). At the end of the weekend, each competing artist gets a ballot and spends hours going around looking at thousands of pieces of art, voting for various categories like “Best Black and White Technique”, “Most Humorous”, and many others. They also choose their top individual pieces which are honored as the top ten “Caricatures of the Year” and their top overall artists, the top three of which are awarded the bronze, silver and gold “Nosey”, the last of which is “Caricaturist of the Year”. Once you win the “Golden Nosey” you are no longer eligible to it win again. This method is very immediate, and makes for a dynamic and interactive week culminating in lots of honors and accolades.

The National Cartoonists Society has an annual awards weekend called the “Reuben Awards”. At a black tie awards banquet and show, cartoonists are honored with “Silver Reubens” in divisions like “Gag Cartoons”, “Newspaper Comic Strips” or “Online Comics- Short Form”. The top honor is “The Reuben Award”, named for cartoonist Rube Goldberg, for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year”. The NCS awards are voted on before hand, with the top three in each division and “Cartoonist of the Year” named as nominees, and the winners announced at the awards banquet. The process for these awards changed greatly this year for most divisions.

Previously the NCS would call for submissions in their various divisions, and the divisions were assigned to different local chapters to jury. The chapters were supposed to go outside the submitted work and seek out other work for consideration, just so the field would be more representative of the industry as a whole, and not just NCS members or non-members who would submit (you do not have to be an NCS member to be eligible for consideration, you just have to be eligible for membership i.e. a professional cartoonist). The chapters would then jury and vote on the work, choosing their top three including the winner. The Reuben Award itself is done via a call for nominations from all membership, with the top three nominees then being voted on again by full membership via secret ballot. Some divisions like “Feature Animation” or “Graphic Novels” are done via specialty jury because of the time or complexity involved in being familiar with the work.

The process has changed this year in that voting in the various divisions is now open to all membership via an online voting program. This year members could log on and can see the work of 238 competing artists in 10 divisions, with 2,388 images to view. Then they can cast their choices for first, second and third place in each divisions. There are still some divisions that use specialty juries for the same reasons they were before (can’t upload animated films, TV shows, entire comics, graphic novels and books to compare), but most are now being decided not by a small group of people but the entire NCS membership. What’s cooler is that the entire membership gets to see all the work being considered.

That’s the basic difference. The ISCA awards are for work done onsite, the NCS awards are for work done professionally for the previous year. Both have their merits and disadvantages. Both, I think, reward outstanding work and reflect some of the best in their respective fields.

Thanks to Erik Johnson for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


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