Categories
Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Still More of When I was President

Here is part three of my story about my time as NCS president. Read part ONE and part TWO of the story.  –Daryl Cagle


Arnold Roth did the theme art for my second convention, in Boca Raton, Florida, to support the International Museum of Cartoon Art.

I continued my “wedding planner” role as NCS president in my second year, and started work on planning my second convention.

At the time, Mort Walker was running a cartoon museum in Boca Raton, Florida. The museum was lovely, but struggling. The collection had originally been housed in a charming, concrete castle in Portchester, New York and I visited there frequently when I lived in NYC and Connecticut. The move to Florida was tough on the museum which was having trouble paying the mortgage on their new building, and having trouble drawing a crowd in their new location.

My first NCS convention at New York’s World Trade Center turned a profit of something more than $30,000.00. In those days the NCS kept a “prudent reserve” of about $250,000.00 on hand –enough to cover a convention that goes wrong, and now the reserve was pushing $300,000.00. With some new money burning a hole in our pockets, I asked the board to give a $30,000.00 donation to Mort’s struggling, Florida museum. Some people objected to the NCS’s donation. The loudest critic was Wiley Miller, who draws the comic “Non-Sequitur.” Wiley publicly and loudly resigned from the NCS, on the pages of Editor & Publisher magazine, because of the donation, which he described as a “misappropriation of funds,” and he later went on to draw a series of comics depicting me as a rotund, evil character, doing various dastardly things, in the newspaper comics pages. (Wiley spent a few years in the wilderness, then rejoined the NCS, and later went on to win the Reuben Award.)

Mort’s Museum of Cartoon Art as it used to be when I visited often, in Portchester, NY.

Cartoonists can be a grouchy bunch. Over time, volunteer organizations gather people who carve out niches for themselves and most of the rancor I faced as president was related to people defending a patchwork of old turf they had claimed, or thought they deserved. Some of the acrimony spilled into chat boards and social media. I didn’t win all of the battles. A big turf battle I lost was about the NCS’s longtime attorney who I wanted to fire. NCS old-timers threatened to give me major trouble if I canned their lawyer buddy, and I backed down. I ended the relationship with the NCS’s beloved travel agent, and the hefty travel agency fees on our hotel room blocks were redirected into paying our new management company’s fees. Our board was rowdy and we voted to kick one board member off of the board. I had a growing list of vocal detractors who complained loudly when I stepped on their toes. I have a pretty thick skin though, and I stirred the steamy cartoonist pot when I thought it needed stirring.

The International Museum of Cartoon Art, as it used to be in Boca Raton, Florida.


THE SECOND CONVENTION

Cartoonists in Ohio made a strong case for the next convention to be held in Cleveland, and my wife, Peg, and I did a site visit there. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer newspaper made a generous donation to the NCS to woo us. The Ohio cartoonists had proposed a hotel and made preliminary arrangements for a party at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Then I got calls from Mort Walker and King Features, who were proposing that the next convention be held at Mort’s International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida.

Mort’s cartoon museum was near death. King Features proposed generous support for both the NCS and the museum by offering to throw a big party at the museum, if we brought the convention to Boca Raton. Mort and King Features thought the museum needed the publicity and a show of support from the cartoonists. Losing the museum would be a blow to our profession, and I had to agree. The NCS had held the Reubens convention in Boca Raton a few years earlier, when the museum building was under construction, but this looked like it might be the last opportunity to do what we could do to save the museum.

We had a lovely party in 2001 at the International Museum of Cartoon Art, but the museum later failed, just as we had feared. At one point, they even considered using only half of the space, and renting out the other half to a “Museum of the Holocaust” that was looking for a home in Boca Raton. I suggested that they make a revolving sign, Mickey Mouse on one side, inviting everyone to the Cartoon Museum, rotating with the Holocaust on the other side – but alas, someone must have thought the two museums weren’t a good fit.

We did a roast of cartoonist Mike Peters at my second convention.

The convention went well. Steve McGarry directed both the show at the Saturday night Reuben Awards, and a Sunday roast of cartoonist Mike Peters. I learned that many NCSers do an excellent impression of Mike Peters, including Jeff Keane who dislocated his shoulder while running up the steps to the stage, and hid the pain so the audience never knew that he was suffering. When Jeff left the stage, he was rushed off to a hospital. What a pro! Mike Luckovich took over the emcee roll for Reubens night, living up to the high standard established by Bil Keane over the course of many years. Mike did a great job, saving the day again.

I think this is a self-portrait of Arnie.

I had a huge presidential suite at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, something hotels throw in as part of a big room block. These crazy suites seem like a fun perk, but they are a burden. Though they are given to the president, they are really being given to the NCS which means there should be a party in the big room all the time, even when I want to sleep. I got a separate, regular hotel room where I actually slept, and where I could make a mess without worrying that someone might walk in.

I asked Arnie Roth to do the theme art for the convention, and I enjoyed working with Arnie as I did with Jack Davis the year before. This is the best part of the NCS president’s job. I also wrote a column in each of our newsletters and a different artist drew my portrait for each column, so I collected a bunch of great portraits. And the board gave me a lovely Jeff MacNelly original as a parting gift; it hangs in my living room.

 

THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL

The Congressional Gold Medal for Charles M. Schulz was an important award for the whole cartooning profession to show that cartoons are not “frivilous.”

Near the end of my tenure, my attention turned back to Sparky. I got a call from Senator Dianne Feistein’s office asking for help. The Senator had authored legislation that would give the Congressional Gold Medal to Sparky posthumously; this was America’s highest civilian honor and Sparky would be the only cartoonist in history to receive it. The bill should have sailed through the Senate, but it was being blocked by one senator, conservative, Republican Jesse Helms from North Carolina. Senator Feinstein had tried everything she could and was looking for help. Helms objected because he thought the award was “frivilous.” This was an important award for the whole cartooning profession to show that cartoons are not “frivilous.” Helms wouldn’t budge and it looked like the Gold Medal was going nowhere.

I reached out to a bunch of cartoonists asking if they had any contacts or ideas on how to twist Helms’ arm and I found Marie Woolf, a talented cartoonist whose work I syndicated back when my CagleCartoons.com syndicate was young. Marie had previously worked for Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah; she called Hatch and made an impassioned plea for help. Marie asked me to have the NCS send a huge, red white and blue “patriotic” bouquet of flowers to Hatch’s office, which I did. That patriotic bouquet was a whopper.

Senator Hatch turned out to be a nice guy and a cartoon fan. He later wrote a forward for my Best Political Cartoons of the Year 2006 book. Tucker Carlson wrote a forward too, and he’s also a cartoon fan and a nice guy. (That’s crazy talk from a liberal cartoonist like me.)

It turned out that Hatch was a cartoon fan; he twisted Helm’s arm and Helms backed down, clearing the way for the Gold Medal –so the credit for the Gold Medal really belongs to Marie Woolf and Orrin Hatch. The House and Senate approved the award with only one dissenting vote, from Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. Hatch turned out to be a nice guy, and he later wrote a forward for my Best Political Cartoons of the Year 2006 book. There was a lovely Congressional Gold Medal celebration in Washington, but alas, by the time the Gold Medal party happened, I was no longer NCS president, and I missed out on the celebration.

By the time my presidential term came to an end, each of my Reuben conventions had turned a good profit; I inherited the NCS in good financial shape and left it in better shape. The new management company was collecting the membership dues properly, had cleaned up the records, and acclimated to the idiosyncrasies of our quirky needs; they were well-positioned to take on much of the work of future NCS events. I had cleared out much of the patchwork of claimed turf. We had raised expectations for more ambitious Reubens weekends. And, frankly, my wife Peg did most of my work.

Even though this all happened twenty years ago, it still makes me feel tired when I think about it; but I have lots of nice trophies and memories from the experience and I continue to enjoy the NCS as a civilian.

Some cartoonists complain that they don’t “get anything” from the NCS –what they get is the opportunity to hang with their colleagues and meet their cartoon heroes. I wholeheartedly recommend that all professional cartoonists join the NCS, visit the NCS site for more information about joining.


Read more old stuff about my career as a cartoonist on DarylCagle.com:

When I was President, PART TWO of three

When I was President, PART ONE of three

Was I Sunk by Submarines?

Baptists, Gay Marriage, Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, Bert and Ernie

Genies Turned me into a Political Cartoonist

Muppet Mob Scene

CagleCartoonists in France

Amazing

TRUE Color

TRUE Stupid Stuff 2

TRUE Stupid Stuff

TRUE Sex 3

TRUE Sex 2

TRUE Sex

TRUE Life Stuff

TRUE Crazy Stuff 4

TRUE Crazy Stuff 3

TRUE Crazy Stuff 2

TRUE Crazy Stuff

TRUE Devils, Angels and YUCK

TRUE Kids 3

TRUE Kids 2

TRUE Kids

TRUE Health Statistics 3

TRUE Health Statistics 2

TRUE Health Statistics 1

TRUE Women’s Body Images

TRUE History

TRUE Marriage 2

TRUE Marriage

TRUE Business

Garage 8: MORE!

Garage 7: TV Toons

Garage 6

Garage 5

Daryl’s Garage Encore! (Part 4)

Still More Daryl’s Garage! (Part 3)

More Garage Art (Part 2)

Garage Oldies (Part 1)

29 Year Old Oddity

Daryl in Belgium

Cagle in Bulgaria

CagleCartoonists Meet in France

Cartooning for the Troops in Bahrain

RoachMan

Answering a College Student’s Questions about Cartoons

Punk Rock Opera

Categories
News Newsletter Syndicate

When I was President

This is the first of three columns about my years as president of the National Cartoonists Society. Read part TWO here. Read part THREE here. –Daryl Cagle


This drawing by Jack Davis shows Snoopy with Sparky’s “Milton Caniff” Lifetime Achievement Award.

I’ve been a member of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) for nearly 40 years. I was president of the NCS from June, 1999 to May, 2001, and I ran two “Reuben Awards” conventions. The first was held at the World Trade Center in Manhattan the year before the towers were destroyed, and the second in Florida at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Much of the work of the NCS president is like being a wedding planner, with all the joys, stresses and horrors that implies, which left me with an odd perspective on our colorful profession. Here are my recollections …

Twenty years ago the membership of the NCS included nearly twice as many professional cartoonist members as it does now, and popular newspaper comic strips were the NCS’s strength. The group was rancorous and my years in the hot seat were toasty. We had a crisis at the start when our management company demanded that we triple their fees; they were doing a terrible job so I fired them and I went about finding a new firm, arguing with our board members who wanted to stay with the old management company and pay the higher fees. Finding a new management company for our unusual group was a big chore, because of the unusual nature of our group compared to more conventional professional organizations.

When the new company eventually took over, the old firm transferred our records and I was told that our files looked like someone climbed to the top of a nine foot ladder and randomly dropped the papers into the boxes. It turns out that we didn’t have records of past members’ dues payments – we didn’t know who was paid up and who wasn’t. It became clear why the old management company was doing a lousy job. It was a big mess to clean up the records and to make sense of the membership dues collections; I faced a challenging learning curve of getting myself and the new management company up to speed.

I had a “wedding” to deal with right away. In those days, the NCS had a big, annual Christmas party in Manhattan, often at the Century Club. We planned our biggest Christmas party ever, with the theme being that we would award a “Golden T-Square” to Mort Walker, who drew the Beetle Bailey comic strip. Mort was delighted. We had a nice sponsor in an internet company that was courting us at the time. The 1999 New York Christmas party would be even bigger than the previous year’s Reuben Awards convention in San Antonio.

 

THE 1999 CHRISTMAS PARTY

The “Century Club” in Manhattan, actually the “Century Association”.

The NCS had long depended on support from the syndicates, especially King Features. When I first started as NCS president, King’s comics editor told me that King was finished with their support for the NCS; he said King didn’t like that the NCS included non-newspaper cartoonist members and he didn’t see what King got out of their longtime support of the NCS. Later I got an angry call from King Features’ chairman who was furiously ranting that he wanted us to cancel the award for Mort because we were stepping on King’s toes; Mort was their guy. I don’t recall saying anything in that crazy phone call; I just listened.

This is Beetle Bailey, from the famous strip by Mort Walker.

On the other hand, Mort was flattered and pleased with the award/party idea, and it was Mort who carried the day. King Features changed their tone after some conversations with Mort and ended up as a second full sponsor for the Christmas party. The double sponsorship let us double the budget and made for quite an opulent evening. I remember that we had a raw bar with all the oysters we could eat, which was fun, and the open bar was freely flowing. Wedding planner glee.

Mort Walker in 2016

King asked to give their “Segar Award” at the Christmas party, an award that King management chooses to give to a King cartoonist; there was a tradition of giving the Segar Award at the King-sponsored-Christmas party, so I said “yes” to King and there were two awards that night. That was my second big issue as president, because many NCSers objected to King giving their own award at the NCS’s party and they aimed their ire at me, complaining that King had “bought” me.  Somebody at the party punched somebody else and most people were talking about the punch. And the huge bill for the big party went entirely on Arnold Roth‘s personal tab at the Century Club, which made Arnie nervous when the NCS took too long to reimburse him. (Sorry about that, Arnie.)

But Mort was happy, and it was a great party.

 

I love Peanuts and Charles M. Schulz was my hero.

PLANNING MY FIRST CONVENTION

The first Reuben Awards convention that I ran as NCS president was in 2000, at the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel  in lower Manhattan, but it was originally intended to take place in Santa Rosa, California. The convention was to be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the comic strip, Peanuts. My predecessor as NCS president, George Breisacher, had been talking to Peanuts creator, Charles M. “Sparky” Schulz and the city of Santa Rosa about having the 2000 Reuben Awards banquet at Sparky’s ice skating rink. Sparky and Santa Rosa were both very generous in their offer to host the convention. George and I flew to Santa Rosa to have dinner with Sparky and his wife, Jeannie, to tour the ice rink and visit the proposed hotel. The hotel was a few miles from the rink, but the city of Santa Rosa offered to cover the cost of busses, and they even offered to have a parade. The ice rink was great fun, and Sparky told us how he had a wood floor that would be installed on top of the ice for the Reubens banquet. We had lovely meetings; Sparky was charming and more than generous, but the problem was the hotel, which would be under construction at that time. With no local hotel alternative that could fit the NCS, and difficult logistics, Santa Rosa didn’t happen. We figured the NCS would do Santa Rosa another year, when the construction at the hotel was completed. I was left scrambling to find a new venue for the 2000 convention. This was actually quite typical for new NCS presidents – planning ahead was not part of the culture for the NCS.

Instead of Santa Rosa, I decided to take the Reubens back to New York, and after a search and competitive bid process, I signed a big contract with the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel, still with the theme of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Peanuts.

Sponsorship for the 2000 Reuben Awards weekend was promised, including a big commitment from United Media, the syndicate that owned Peanuts. Sparky, was going to receive the NCS’s lifetime achievement award on Reuben night and political cartoonist Mike Luckovich had organized most of the newspaper comic strip cartoonists to draw a Peanuts 50th anniversary themed strip on the Saturday of our banquet – then in mid-February, three months before the convention in May, we got the news that Sparky had died.

Arrgh!  So sad!  And what was I going to do!?

——————————————–

Read more old stuff about my career as a cartoonist on DarylCagle.com

Still More of When I was President, PART THREE of three

More of When I was President, PART TWO of three

When I was President, PART ONE of three

Was I Sunk by Submarines?

Baptists, Gay Marriage, Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, Bert and Ernie

Genies Turned me into a Political Cartoonist

Muppet Mob Scene

CagleCartoonists in France

Amazing

TRUE Color

TRUE Stupid Stuff 2

TRUE Stupid Stuff

TRUE Sex 3

TRUE Sex 2

TRUE Sex

TRUE Life Stuff

TRUE Crazy Stuff 4

TRUE Crazy Stuff 3

TRUE Crazy Stuff 2

TRUE Crazy Stuff

TRUE Devils, Angels and YUCK

TRUE Kids 3

TRUE Kids 2

TRUE Kids

TRUE Health Statistics 3

TRUE Health Statistics 2

TRUE Health Statistics 1

TRUE Women’s Body Images

TRUE History

TRUE Marriage 2

TRUE Marriage

TRUE Business

Garage 8: MORE!

Garage 7: TV Toons

Garage 6

Garage 5

Daryl’s Garage Encore! (Part 4)

Still More Daryl’s Garage! (Part 3)

More Garage Art (Part 2)

Garage Oldies (Part 1)

29 Year Old Oddity

Daryl in Belgium

Cagle in Bulgaria

CagleCartoonists Meet in France

Cartooning for the Troops in Bahrain

RoachMan

Answering a College Student’s Questions about Cartoons

Punk Rock Opera

Categories
Blog Syndicate

Randy Remembers the NCS

My cartoonist buddy, Randy Enos, will be writing some short remembrances here in the blog; he has had a long career with many stories that he needs to tell. Randy has had a fantastic career, drawing for all the top publications; he was a regular in the old National Lampoon with his Chicken Gutz comic. Randy was working with all the top cartoonists and illustrators in the New York scene since the year I was born (1956). Randy draws his editorial cartoons with a knife, cutting into linoleum block, backwards. Check out his archive.

 

An Evening at the Society

In the late 50’s into the early 60’s, I often attended the meetings of The National Cartoonists Society as a guest of my friend and co-worker Pete Wells (once a Katzenjammer Kids cartoonist). The meetings were held in New York at the old Lamb’s Club which was really a club for actors, playwrights and the like. I would often see some very familiar faces of old timey actors there because they all enjoyed honorary membership in the Society as exchange for loaning us their home for our meetings.

On this one night, I was employed drinking at the bar, half listening to the two guys standing next to me discussing their work, but mostly I was paying attention to the antics of the Smokey Stover cartoonist, Bill Holman, who was gleefully glad-handing every one who approached and chortling like a little kid when they were “shocked” by the buzzer he had concealed in his right hand.

One of the two next to me was the great DC comics artist Jerry Robinson. I don’t remember who the other guy was. As I listened to them, I became aware of a small man with a large head who had approached and was in rapt attention to the speakers, darting his enormous noggin back and forth between them as though watching a tennis match. Every now and then he would attempt to interject something to no avail. He would say, “Hey… hey, fellas”. This went on for a time and then, through utter frustration, he finally exploded, “Hey, you guys. You never talk to me!” It was then that I recognized one of the founders of the Society, Otto Soglow, former political cartoonist who was now famous for “The Little King”.

“You realistic guys never want to talk to me” he went on, “I draw realistic too… I do. I draw realistic . I can’t help it… that’s the way people look to me!”

Well the evening went on to include a near fist fight between a very drunk Walt Kelly and the evening’s guest speaker, my favorite radio guy Jean Shepherd (A Christmas Story) who was dressed in a gamy tux with holes in his socks.

It was just another typical evening at the Cartoonists Society.

Randall Enos

PS from Randy:
Daryl, In case you’re wondering what the fight between Shepherd and Kelly was all about, here’s what transpired:

Shepherd’s talk that evening was about freedom and bucking the system and speaking out. He was admonishing a lot of the cartoonists for being very tame and not pushing the boundaries etc.. At that time in his career he was without a sponsor. There were brief periods when he did have a sponsor but he was so irreverent to them that it never worked out very well. He was fired at one point and then re-instated when his listening audience rose up and demanded his return. so, I tell you this because Kelly’s point was that Shepherd could play Mr. High & Mighty because he didn’t have sponsors to deal with and answer to while the cartoonists worked for papers that had editors and ads to contend with and didn’t have that freedom. Kelly was very drunk at that point in the evening and started shouting from the floor, openly arguing nastily with Shepherd. It got so fierce that I honestly thought they were going to come to blows but finally Kelly staggered off and left the building.

Categories
Blog Syndicate

Cartooning for the Troops in Bahrain

I went on my first National Cartoonists Society (NCS), USO trip last week. The NCS has a long history of working with the USO, dating back to the 1950’s and we’re cheap entertainment – all we need is a pen, a pad of paper and a place to sit.

Bahrain, aside from some flashy skyscrapers downtown, is a pretty desolate looking desert, with beige sand, a beige sky and searing heat. Bahrain is a kingdom that has a long bridge to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis like to come to Bahrain to go to a movie, shop and go out for dinner. I suspect the food, movies and restaurants in Saudi Arabia leave something to be desired, so Bahrain is crammed full of hotels, shopping and restaurants.

Cartoonists at the “Tree of Life,” from left to right: Paul Combs, Michael Ramirez, Dave Mowder,Todd Clark, Daryl Cagle and Ed Steckley.

Out in the middle of nowhere there is a tree they call the “Tree of Life” that grows where there are no other trees in sight. The locals think the tree is thousands of years old, left over from the Garden of Eden. Those cans on the ground are flood lights. Our group of cartoonists is there in the photo, from left to right, Paul Combs (fireman cartoonist and former political cartoonist for the Tampa Tribune); Michael Ramirez, the knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal, right-wing, Pulitzer-winning star editorial cartoonist; Dave Mowder, Illustrator and character cartoonist; Todd Clark, who draws the comic strip “Lola” and writes gags for another half a dozen top strips; next is me in a Hawaiian shirt, and on the right is Ed Steckley, a brilliant caricature artist/illustrator from New York.

I enjoy drawing for the troops! They seem to really appreciate the cartoons. Typically, they will pull out a cell phone with a photo of a boyfriend, a girlfriend or a dog from back home. I sometimes suggest combining the boyfriend with the dog, which is a big hit with the women soldiers, although it doesn’t work the other way around – “girlfriend as a dog” cartoons are to be avoided!

There are US military installations all around Bahrain, including a very big naval base where we spent a good deal of time drawing. We visited a Patriot missile installation and got a great lesson on how the anti-missile missiles work, but they wouldn’t let us shoot one off.

We had originally been slated to visit Afghanistan, but the Pentagon “locked down” Afghanistan as “too dangerous,” so Bahrain was the safe, backup plan. I’m told that some of these NCS/USO cartoonist trips can be rather rugged and adventurous. Since this was my first time, I have nothing to compare it to. It wasn’t rugged. We had a nice hotel. But is was still an adventure.

I was the oldest guy on the trip. It seems to me that the troops are getting younger as I get older. They are kids. Big, tough kids. I appreciate all they do and it was great fun to sit an talk with so many of them.

 

Categories
Blog

Two Cartoonist Legends Pass Away

So sad to see this on the National Cartoonists Society’s (NCS) Facebook page.
13645272_1162221397133070_7943833285429169531_nBoth Jack Davis and Richard Thompson are among the best cartoonists ever. I met them both through the NCS. I grew up with Jack’s brilliant artwork in Mad Magazine; he was a special influence on my own work and a charming gentleman.

The NCS and the world lost 2 cartooning legends today: Jack Davis and Richard Thompson.

Jack was born in 1924, and after his first freelance drawing gig at age 12, went on to become one of the greatest and most respected cartoonists of all time. He leaves behind his loving wife Dena, and a world lessened by the loss of a legend. Jack won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 2000.

13692874_1162221407133069_35823026488229291_oRichard Thompson, in addition to being a successful humorous illustrator for The Washington Post, created one of the most admired newspaper comic strips of the late 20th century, Cul de Sac. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease , and soon after had no choice but to retire the strip. Richard was given the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 2011.

Categories
Blog

Angel Elvis Over Memphis

I responded to a request from National Cartoonists Society (NCS) president Bill Morrison, to do a drawing thanking the city of Memphis for their support of the upcoming NCS convention. The original will be sold at a fundraising auction. Bill sent cartoonists a list of “Memphis stuff” including the pyramid, the Memphis skyline, Elvis, fried chicken and craft beer. I’m more drawn to the old, fat Elvis – I wonder why.

Elvis750-forNCS

Watch me draw this one in real time in the video below. I drew two cartoons in this video, and this Youtube link is queued to start when I start drawing Elvis.

Obama and the Constitution

134245 600 Obama and the Constitution cartoons