Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship

December 6th, 2007 | Posted in News

It was odd that yesterday, after just getting the sad news about James Kemsley‘s passing, I received something else concerning another cartooning collegaue’s earthly departure. This time the news was a little brighter, even though it’s circumstances are as somber.

Back in April, King Feature’s longtime editor Jay Kennedy died in a tragic boating accident when on vacation in Costa Rica. Jay was a great friend to many artists and to the art of cartooning in general. He has been sorely missed.

In memory of Jay, King Features Syndicate has established the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is “designed to acknowledge excellence among college-aged aspiring cartoonists”. Through the NCS Foundation, the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship will be awarded yearly to a deserving college student for their junior or senior year based on the judging of submitted work to the Foundation’s panel of professional cartoonists. The award will be presented at the NCS’s annual Reuben Awards dinner.

The award was started thanks to a generous gift to the NCS Foundation by King Features. However the Foundation would like to make the award even stronger, and do to that the Jay Kennedy Memorial Fund could use donations. Many cartoonists owe their very careers to Jay, and his efforts on behalf of the profession of cartooning cannot be overstated. Now there is an official charitable fund to donate to on the behalf of Jay. Contributions can be made payable to the National Cartoonists Society Foundation and mailed to:

National Cartoonists Society Foundation
Attention: Donations
341 N. Maitland Ave., Suite 130
Maitland, FL 32751-4761

Of course, if you are a college student and an aspiring cartoonist this is another terrific opportunity on top of the other awards the NCS Foundation will be awarding in 2008, including the Herblock and Mendez scholarships. The deadline to apply is January 31st, so don’t wait too long. Download the application form here, get 5 samples of your cartooning work together and send it in for consideration. The only requirements are that applicants be college students in the United States, Canada or Mexico and will be attending college during the 2008-2009 academic year. Applicants DO NOT have to be art majors to be eligible for this scholarship. The scholarships are not tied to any specific school or major.

As a Foundation board member, I want to thank King Features for their generosity, and also anyone else who donates to the fund. I can’t think of a better way to honor Jay and his contributions to the art of cartooning.


  1. Mark Hill says:

    What a wonderful idea to honor the memory of a great editor — by helping cartoonists, (as he did in so many ways.)

    As many other cartoonists have described him, Jay was a tireless, mentoring Editor-in-Chief at King Features. He wrote numerous personal notes of encouragement, even when the work in front of him was displaying only small signs of brightness. (As was the case with my first submission to King.) His encouragement led me to refining and submitting my work…and finally, to Jay offering me contract for my comic strip.

    He and I worked together developing the strip for nine months, and I learned just how intelligent and capable he was as an editor. (At launch, the strip ran into some stiff competition with a similarly-themed new feature by an established cartoonist and did not sell well…but it gave me the confidence and training to continue with a career in cartooning.)

    The news of Jay’s passing was very sad indeed. My understanding is that he was in the act of saving someone else, (his girlfriend — who survived), when he perished.

    I hope this becomes a successful fund and ends up assisting many aspiring cartoonists.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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