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Dear fellow comics fan:
If it’s springtime, it’s awards season for cartoonists! The movies
have the Oscars, television has the Emmys, and cartooning has the only
slightly less prestigious Reuben Award. The membership of the National
Cartoonists Society has nominated cartoonists in a range of
categories, and the winners will be announced on May 24. The staff of
Hogan’s Alley, using our peerless insight, a Ouija board, some tea
leaves and the Magic 8-Ball, has made our fearless predictions for
some of the categories. (Longtime readers of this newsletter will
recall our impressively accurate predictions last year, when we went
four for five.)
NOMINEES FOR THE COMIC BOOK DIVISION AWARD: Nick Abadzis (“Laika”),
Bryan Lee O’Malley (“Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together”) and Shaun Tan
(“The Arrival”). Intriguingly, two of the nominees (“Laika” and “The
Arrival”) deal with non-American protagonists, illustrating the
international appeal of cartooning. (By the way, the NCS is eventually
going to have to rename this category the Graphic Novel Division or,
ideally, create a new category for graphic novels to acknowledge the
form’s importance to the industry.) SHOULD WIN: Abadzis’ compelling
story of Laika’s journey from Moscow’s mean streets to outer space was
one of the year’s most gripping page turners. WILL WIN: Tan is riding
a wave of critical momentum, having picked up awards in both
hemispheres for his touching story of an immigrant’s search for a
NOMINEES FOR THE EDITORIAL CARTOON AWARD: Gary Brookins (The Richmond
Times-Dispatch), Mike Ramirez (Investor’s Business Daily) and Bill
Schorr (United Media). All three produced strong work in a year when
circumstances provided them with a plethora of cartoon-worthy fodder.
SHOULD WIN: Ramirez, as avowedly conservative as ever at his new home,
scored a bulls-eye every time he took aim. WILL WIN: But since Ramirez
took this division last year, we’ll call it for the incisive and
NOMINEES FOR THE GAG CARTOON DIVISION AWARD: Benita Epstein, Mort
Gerberg and Glenn McCoy. The nominees are three great practitioners of
a sadly attenuated area of the cartooning world. SHOULD WIN: Epstein
and McCoy could both walk away with the plaque, and no one would
question the result. But we predict the younger sensibilities behind
their work will split the vote and open the door for... WILL WIN:
Gerberg, who has been producing reliably insightful, well-crafted and
flat-out funny work for decades. Plus, he’s held in justifiably great
regard by his NCS peers.
NOMINEES FOR THE ANIMATION FEATURE DIVISION AWARD: Brad Bird
(“Ratatouille”), Sylvain Deboissy (“Surf’s Up”) and David Silverman
(“The Simpsons Movie”). The fact that two of the three nominees are
CGI tells you the direction of this cartooning form in recent years.
And with Bird’s “Simpsons” pedigree, two of the three features have
ties to Springfield. SHOULD WIN: Who doesn’t love the Simpsons? Who
doesn’t love David Silverman? WILL WIN: NCS members are nothing if not
traditionalists (the main award’s not called the Reuben for nothing),
so Silverman and his long-overdue, surprise hit 2D opus take home the
NOMINEES FOR THE NEWSPAPER PANEL AWARD: Chad Carpenter (“Tundra”),
Kieran Meehan (“Meehan”) and Glenn and Gary McCoy (“The Flying
McCoys”). Meehan repeats as a nominee in this category, a tribute win
or lose. SHOULD WIN: Carpenter’s self-syndicated “Tundra” doesn’t have
a high enough profile among voters, but it most assuredly has the
chops. WILL WIN: The ubiquitous McCoys produce more quality cartooning
than any two people should. Their popularity among NCS members just
ices the cake.
NOMINEES FOR THE NEWSPAPER STRIP DIVISION AWARD: Paul Gilligan (“Pooch
Cafe”), Jim Meddick (“Monty”) and Richard Thompson (“Cul de Sac”).
Three great strips by respected veterans --a very tough field that
exemplifies some of the best work on the comics page today. SHOULD
WIN: Meddick produces a strip that every other cartoonist loves, and
it has completely transcended its roots as a spinoff of a toy. While
“Cul de Sac” and first-time nominee Thompson will win much hardware in
years to come, the strip is probably too new to win, without even a
full year under its belt. Still, its inclusion among the nominees
demonstrates the respect it has already earned. WILL WIN: Who needs a
robot? Meddick wins this award for the first time, an overdue honor.
NOMINEES FOR THE REUBEN AWARD: Those in the running for the top award
(despite common misperception, this award is the ONLY Reuben Award
given each year; the others are divisional awards) are Dave Coverly
(“Speed Bump”), Al Jaffee (“Mad” magazine’s fold-in) and Dan Piraro
(“Bizarro”). Both Coverly and Piraro were Reuben nominees last year,
but we predict they’ll be bridesmaids again this year, as the living
legend Jaffee wins cartooning’s most prestigious paperweight. SHOULD
WIN: Beloved by his peers, Piraro demonstrates daily that the comics
page can still be hospitable to brilliant art. Always solid and
occasionally transcendent gagwriting burnishes his credentials. (Don’t
get us wrong: We are in awe of Jaffee’s body of work, but the Milton
Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award exists to honor members of
cartooning’s pantheon like Jaffee; however, Sandra Boynton is slated
to receive that honor this year.) WILL WIN: While Coverly and Piraro
will no doubt hold the hardware in their hands one day, it’s Jaffee
turn to put his Reuben Award through the x-ray machine at the airport.
More than any other human, he has caused millions of copies of “Mad”
to fall from mint condition. Incidentally, if you haven’t played with
the New York times’ “Fold-In” feature, here’s your chance:
TRIVIA TIME, REUBEN EDITION: While you’re in a Reuben Award state of
mind, mull these questions over to see how much you know about the
people who have won cartooning’s top honor:
A. Who was the first disabled cartoonist to win a Reuben Award?
B. Who is the first foreign-born cartoonist to win the Reuben Award?
C. Who was the first cartoonist to win the Reuben for a “kid strip”?
(Hint: It’s not Charles Schulz.)
D. Who was the first political cartoonist to win the Reuben?
E. Who was the first two-time Reuben winner?
SUBSCRIBE TO HOGAN, WIN ORIGINAL ART: Once again next issue, we will
be randomly inserting pieces of original comic art into subscriber
copies of Hogan’s Alley #16. (We are deep into production of the
issue, which will be published later this year.) June Brigman has
generously offered Hogan’s Alley subscribers a couple dozen originals
from her strip, “Brenda Starr,” autographed by her and Roy Brigman,
her inker and letterer (and husband). The art is lovely, and it’s on
two-ply Bristol board, suitable for framing. You can subscribe in time
to receive issue #16 and to have chance to win a Brigman original, at
. If you’ve never experienced
the wonders of Hogan’s Alley, you can order a copy for a mere three
dollars at that web page as well. Surely you can forgo a cup of
Starbucks for 144 pages of cartooning delight.
ANSWERS TO TRIVIA TIME:
A. Al Capp, the second Reuben winner (in 1947), lost a leg in a
B. Canadian-born Hal Foster won in 1957.
C. Hank Ketcham won in 1952.
D. Herbert Block (“Herblock”) won in 1956.
E. Charles M. Schulz won in 1955 and 1964.
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