REUBEN WEEKEND EXTRAORDINAIRE
IN KANSAS CITY
Report by Ed Black, GLC Secretary-Treasurer
Above: It may be a drawing of Ed, but it's
pure Jerry! Our on-the-scene reporter, by the incorrigible Dowling.
One of the winners in the division awards at the 58th
annual Reuben weekend is a member of the Great Lakes Chapter. Chris
Payne, who lives in Cincinnati, won his plaque in the Book Illustration
category. He was selected over two other nominees: Buck Jones of
the North Central Chapter and Ralph Steadman of England.
Other division winners were:
- Tom Richmond, Advertising
- Terry Moore, Comic Books
for "Strangers in Paradise."
- Tom Toles, the late Herblock's
replacement at the Washington Post for Editorial Cartoons.
- Andrew Stanton, "Finding
Nemo" Feature Animation
- Jack Ziegler of the New Yorker
in the Gag Cartoon category.
- Gary McCoy, Greeting Cards,
who won over his brother, Glenn, who was also nominated.
- Magazine Feature Illustration: Hermann Mejia of
- Newspaper Comic Strip: Stephan Pastis for "Pearls
Before Swine" (UFS). He's been doing the strip for only two years
and gave up a position at a San Francisco Law firm to concentrate on his
- Newspaper Illustration: Bob Rich
- Newspaper Panel: Jerry Von Amerongen for "Ballard
- TV Animation: Paul Rudish for "Star Wars:
The Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award went to Jules
Feiffer, the cartoonist/playwright/screen writer/children's book author
who is still involved in writing plays and children's books, one of which
is being made into an animated film in the Czech Republic by Gene Deitch.
The Silver T-Square Award was presented to John McMeel,
co-founder in 1970 with the late Jim Andrews of the Universal Press
Syndicate, which is headquartered in Kansas City. The syndicate, which
occupies three floors of a new office building, threw open its doors to
NCS members Saturday afternoon, shuttled by trolleys.
The Reuben Award went to Greg Evans for "Luann"
-- finally. He'd been nominated several times starting in 1994.
GLC members who attended the Reuben weekend were: Polly
Keener, chapter chairman Steve Boreman, Dave Coverly, Jerry Dowling,
Ed Black, Roy Doty, Frank Pauer, Jef Mallett, Don Peoples, Lucy Caswell
and Daryll Collins, and of course, Chris Payne. Daryll, Steve, Jerry
and Frank were accompanied by their wives, with now-college-coed (Syracuse)
Lauren Pauer also present.
NCS festivities began Thursday night with a book signing
at Barnes & Noble, within walking distance of the two hotels housing
NCS members in an attractive clean section called The Plaza. Those cartoonists
who have features in the Kansas City Star and who have books out were invited-to
the signing. Those with writer's cramp the next day were: Dan Piraro
(whose "Bizarro" panel was to begin in the paper the following
Monday), Brian Basset ("Red and Rover"), Greg Evans
("Luann"), Brad Anderson ("Marmaduke"),
Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine"), Patrick McDonnell
("Mutts"), Rick Kirkman ("Baby Blues"),
and Jerry Scott (writer of "Baby Blues" and "Zits").
Bill Hinds ("Tank
McNamara" and "Cleats") and Bill Amend
("Foxtrot") were there to collect sketches -- including
their own -- for a Kansas City charity event called 'Christmas in October'
through which homes of low income residents are repaired. The sheet of
cartoon characters is to be auctioned to raise funds for this event. (continues
Mad Magazine's Nick Meglin (L) chats with Sam
Viviano, also of Mad, at the Universal Syndicate open house.
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The publicity of Kansas City for the entire weekend couldn't
have been better, compared to the cold shoulder treatment in San Francisco
last year. In the Kansas City Star "FYI" section of Wednesday
night appeared a full color three-quarter page treatment headlined "THE
CARTOONISTS ARE COMING TO KC'' with "KC!" in bold red. The
headlines appeared in a speech balloon with drawings of the characters
of the cartoonists scheduled to appear at the book signing. Also in red
below this picture was a "Meet the cartoonists" announcement
followed by the fact they were to appear at the Barnes & Noble store.
Below the fold were photos of each cartoonist with facts about each one.
There was more information on the jump page.
At the signing a TV station photographer showed up to
shoot an item for the news; a photographer from the Star was also there,
clicking away. The line snaked from the front of the store where the cartoonists
were to the rear. Many purchased more than one book; one woman was seen
toting six. The store remained open past closing until the last person
desiring autographs got them. Kansas Citians definitely read the paper
-- and the funnies!
Kansas City's Public Radio station interviewed the cartoonists
and played it Friday at 11 am, May 28th.
The Star also provided several large sheets of drawing
paper at the seminars for the cartoonists attending to draw their impressions
of Kansas City. These will be published in the Star's Sunday magazine sometime
At the seminars a video of Jeff MacNelly's appearance
at the 1999 Reuben Weekend in San Antonio was shown. He appeared as witty
as ever. Little did we know in a little over two years he would be gone,
a victim of lymphoma. Charles Schulz and Bill Mauldin also
spoke; Henry Boltinoff and Jim Russell were up front and
close in the audience. Little did we know...
In the tradition of the late Russell, the Australian cartoonist
("The Potts") who came to the Reuben weekend each year
for many years, four of his colleagues from down under were in Kansas City:
James Kemsley ("Ginger Meggs"), Gary Clark
("The Swamp"), Sean Leahy ("Beyond the
Black Stump" and editorial cartoons for the Brisbane Courier),
and Peter Broelman ("Ratbags" strip and editorial
Kemeley is the current president of the Australian Cartoonists'
Association. Their equivalent of the Reuben is the Stanley award, named
after "the icon of Australian cartooning," Stan Cross.
They have an awards weekend, too. He said there are 260 members of the
ACA. Kemeley said there are no syndicates in Australia like there are in
the U.S. and cartoonists have to sell strips to other papers on their own.
Kemsley's strip appears worldwide. (continues after photo)
Paul Fell, editorial cartoonist
for the Lincoln Journal Star, with Cathy Guisewite.
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Saturday evening during the NCS cocktail party there was
karaoke where many NCS members demonstrated their... uh... singing ability
-- reinforced in most cases by the barley water and mixed drinks which
had been flowing for a few hours. Who should saunter in unnoticed at first
in a black jersey and black pants but Garry Trudeau. Chants arose
of "Gar-RY, Gar-RY" encouraging him to participate in karaoke,
but he declined. Later, though, he cut quite a rug on the dance floor --
then disappeared into the night.
Sunday afternoon was free time and several members took
advantage of that by touring the early Disney sites (not part of the overall
NCS plans). Walt Disney began his animation career in Kansas City
in 1920, only to file for bankruptcy a little over a year later because
of a bad business deal with a New York distributor which had never distributed
theatrical films before.
Bitter and embarrassed, he left for California in July,1923,for
two reasons: His older brother Roy was recuperating from TB at a veterans'
hospital in Los Angeles and Walt wanted to become a director at one of
the Hollywood film studios, after all he had some experience under his
belt directing some of his own films in Kansas City.
Driving NCSers who chose to take the tour was Atty.
Dan Viets who drove in from Columbia, MO., and who is one of three
authors of the fascinating new book, "Walt Disney's Missouri,"
which details Walt's formative years in the farm town of Marceline, MO.,
(1905-1910) and Kansas City (1910-1916). Also driving was 83-year-old Ted
Cauger, son of A.V. Cauger, owner of the Kansas City Film Ad Co. who
hired Disney in February, 1920 and introduced him to animation.
Those on the tour were: Polly Keener, Ed Black, Ron
Ferdinand ("Dennis the Menace" Sunday page), Ron
Evry and his wife, author R.C. Harvey, and Bill Janocha
(assistant on "Beetle Bailey") and his family. We were
shown the Disney family home and the garage behind the home where Walt
virtually taught himself animation, the school he attended, the bank where
Roy Disney was employed before coming down with TB, the field which once
held the Kansas City Film Ad Co. (Viets was disturbed the University of
Missouri tore the building down "for no reason at all." He said
it could be called "the cradle of Hollywood animation because of those
who had worked there and later with Walt at his small studio went on to
become the core of Hollywood animation a decade later: Hugh and
Walker Harman, Rudolph Ising, Ub Iwerks, and later Friz Freleng.).
Then it was off to Forest and 31st streets to see the
building which housed Walt's Laugh-O-grams studio where he produced the
six cartoons ordered by the fated N.Y. distributor which promised $11,000
on completion and delivery. The glib young Disney managed to raise $15,000
from investors to start his studio. He brought with him the above-named
animators plus some others only in their teens to work at Laugh-o-grams.
Walt never saw the $11,000.
The building is today a shell. Kansas City had planned
to tear it down, but Atty. Viets and two others bought it and plan to refurbish
it. The walls are supported by steel beams embedded in cement along the
outer walls. He and others formed a group called Thank You Walt Disney
to raise funds for the extensive renovation. Diane Disney Miller,
Walt's daughter, and her family are also involved and promised matching
funds when $450,000 is reached.
To raise money, TYWD is offering a print called "The
Cradle of Animation" for $25 which is tax deductible. Interested?
Send $25 to Thank you Walt Disney, 215 E.18th Street, Kansas City, MO 69108.
It would look great framed and hanging in anyone's studio or child's bedroom
or the family room.
For that matter, GLCers can order Viets's book which is
worth every penny in my opinion. Send $34.95 with $5.00 for postage and
handling to: Atty. Dan Viets, 15 N. Tenth Street, Columbia, MO 65201.
The 2004 Reuben Awards weekend, all in all, will be remembered
with fondness by the attendees for a long, long time.
Tom Stiglich, Philadelphia editorial
Cartoonist, with Hilda Terry ("Teena").
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