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Keith Knight on improving NCS; Cagle responds

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Last week, Keith Knight posted a cartoon responding to his first time attending a National Cartoonist Society’s Reuben award weekend. In the cartoon he suggests various ways the NCS could improve the events which include: holding the conferences in smaller locales, being more inclusive to webcomickers and indie cartoonists, have more public events and organize more competitive activities between cartoonists (think bowling, golf, etc.)

Daryl Cagle responds to these suggestions with his perspective of a former NCS president that could be summed as: “no, yes, awkward, beer.”

Community Comments

#1 Noah Rodenbeek
June/9/2009
@ 1:17 pm

Panel 5 is my favorite.

#2 Anne Hambrock
June/9/2009
@ 1:35 pm

Daryl’s story about the “Garfield plates” had me laughing out loud!

#3 brian anderson
June/9/2009
@ 1:46 pm

What’s the NCS?

Keith rocks.

#4 Scott Metzger
June/9/2009
@ 2:00 pm

I love The K Chronicles. The last panel is right on the money.

#5 peckinpaw
June/9/2009
@ 2:24 pm

The thing is, comics are ‘virtually’ (ha ha wink wink) all on the web now. So unless NCS opens a ‘web’ chapter it loses some of its relevance.

#6 Wiley Miller
June/9/2009
@ 4:16 pm

The unprofessionalism of this is the height of hubris and arrogance. It’s generally a good idea to have some knowledge about a subject before opining on it.

#7 Steve Skelton
June/9/2009
@ 4:25 pm

okay Wiley, tell us what is wrong with it.

#8 Kelly McNutt
June/9/2009
@ 4:31 pm

Aye, Wiley – height of hubris? Honestly?

#9 Mike Lester
June/9/2009
@ 5:04 pm

1. Is Knight a dues paying NCS member?

2. Did he attend as a valid member or did he gatecrash?

3. I don’t know Knights’ status but if he’s not a member of NCS, his suggestions as to how to make an organization to which he doesn’t even belong a little arrogant to say the least.

Next he’ll be telling women what they can and can’t do w/ their bodies.

#10 Scott Metzger
June/9/2009
@ 5:57 pm

Letâ??s say you want to join a country club. You got a tour of the place and you liked it. Youâ??d like to become a member.

Then a few days later you decide to draw an inoffensive and lighthearted cartoon about how the country club could be even better.

Is that being arrogant?

Do you have to wait until you become a member and start paying your dues before you can offer opinions about the country club?

I just donâ??t see the arrogance in this. Especially since Knight says heâ??s looking forward to his first year of membership with the NCS. Heâ??s already a member or will soon become a member.

#11 Rich Diesslin
June/9/2009
@ 6:04 pm

I’m getting the dead horse ready for it’s beating. Come on Mr. Ed, get up … come on boy … (“No, no, not again Willllbbbburrrr)!

#12 Stacy Curtis
June/9/2009
@ 7:24 pm

Can’t wait to see where this goes…

#13 Garey Mckee
June/9/2009
@ 7:58 pm

“Canâ??t wait to see where this goesâ?¦”

That would be nowhere. Fast.

#14 Jim Lavery
June/9/2009
@ 9:12 pm

First one to mention T-shirt sales is a rotten egg–oh, damn.

#15 Randal Milholland
June/10/2009
@ 3:12 am

Mike and Wiley,

I doubt you two have always been directly involved or had full knowledge of everything you’ve lampooned and criticized over the duration of your careers. What makes the NCS off limits? Other people should respect your sacred cows when you’ve seen nothing wrong with leading theirs off to slaughter?

THAT is arrogance – somehow feeling you and your friends are above the mocking, criticism and editorializing that you’ve built careers off of.

If you can’t take it, stop dishing it out.

#16 Rick Stromoski
June/10/2009
@ 5:02 am

First off I’d like to say I’ve always been a fan of Keith’s work. I’ve met him briefly at several cartoonists gatherings and believe he’s a decent guy.

Regarding his suggestions many have already been in place for a number of years. The NCS has taken the Reubens to several smaller venues over the years Asheville, Kansas City, Cancun, first come to mind. Nearly every Reuben weekend of late has had a public event either as a book signing, public auction of original art, meet and greet to raise money for charity etc. Reuben weekends also usually include cartoonist vs, cartoonist events that include Golf, tennnis, softball etc when the venue allows it.

I think most of the negative reaction to Keith’s cartoon stems from the fact that he had no qualms about crashing the NCS Reuben event which means he didn’t bother to register or pay the registration fee but still felt entitled to eat and drink on the NCS’s dime.

The Reubens are paid for by attendees fees. Every drink Keith consumed and every canape he ate was paid for by the other members of the NCS in attendance. Not a good first impression one gives when joining an organization.

This compunctionless attitude also gives implicit permission to others of like mind to do the same in the future. As a former NCS President who has first hand knowledge of the effort that goes into planning these conventions, finding the venue, negotiating the food and beverage costs to keep them as low as possible and putting on a five star gala event, it’s a slap in the face to everyone who works hard all year to have someone with a sense of entitlement to think they can just show up and eat and drink for free. Then to publish a cartoon critical of that effort doubles the insult.

Keith owes Jeff Keane an apology.

#17 Nate Fakes
June/10/2009
@ 6:24 am

There, there – Mike and Wiley. We know, we know. Do you want to talk about it?

#18 Wiley Miller
June/10/2009
@ 6:43 am

Sad that ethics, professionalism and manners needs to be explained to so many here.

#19 r stevens
June/10/2009
@ 7:41 am

That Keith Knight. What a jerk! He wants us all to get along and have fun together.

#20 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 7:57 am

“That Keith Knight. What a jerk! He wants us all to get along and have fun together.”

You said what I was thinking, Richard. Rock on, Keith.

#21 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 8:01 am

I don’t see what was wrong with Keith Knight’s cartoon. Personally, I thought it was tame and funny, not meanspirited at all. I don’t understand what the problem is.

#22 David Reddick
June/10/2009
@ 8:24 am

The cartoon, and Keith’s awesome attitude is irrepressible and fun and full of great ideas and positivity. Wiley, get a life.

#23 Jason Nocera
June/10/2009
@ 8:26 am

The cartoon is lighthearted, but Rick Stromoski makes an excellent point in the comment section of Daryl’s response as to why it was unprofessional.

#24 Wiley Miller
June/10/2009
@ 8:33 am

Ok, I guess I do have to explain it.
There was nothing wrong with the cartoon, there was a great deal wrong with how he went about it.

He crashed the party. That means he was not invited to this very expensive private party. He was not there as a registered guest nor as a registered member, eating and drinking on the NCS’s dime while everyone else paid to be there. It’s one thing for some high school kid to pull this stunt, but quite unprofessional for someone like him to have done it.

What makes this worse is that he proceeds to publicly criticize how the party and organization is run, making suggestions on what they “should” do. Really bad form by someone who crashed the party in the first place, and has no knowledge of how or why the organization and event is run.

The mature, professional way he could have, and should have, gone about it is in a conversation with someone like Daryl, or any number of members there, at the cocktail party and raise the issues he’s interested. He may have learned then how and why things are done, as Daryl did in his blog, before launching into his suggestions publicly.

This isn’t a matter of the NCS being out of bounds for criticism. It’s a matter of professionalism, ethics and manners. I appreciate Keith’s enthusiasm and interest in making it more accessible to more cartoonists, but this was just the wrong way to go about it, which I thought was really bad form. You don’t crash a party, then publicly criticize the host. If he wanted to be there so badly, he could have registered like everyone else did.

#25 T AB
June/10/2009
@ 8:48 am

Speaking as a former non gate crashing lapsed member, I was going to apply for membership earlier this year.

Checked out the NCS website and was informed that “applications are not accepted by email”.

Haven’t applied yet, somehow never got around to buying that envelope and printing out some kind of letter and standing in line at the post office to buy one lonely stamp…

#26 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 8:49 am

Keith was only at the Reubens Friday cocktail party, as far as I know. I had assumed he was invited and that’s why he was there, or that he had asked and was allowed in. If he had “crashed” as he says, why didn’t somebody say something to him? We all saw him there. Why wasn’t he asked to leave by those who knew he didn’t pay anything? What makes him special? Did Jeff know he crashed? And isn’t this then really the fault of the hotel, for not checking badges at the door? I remember the Reubens in San Fran and my wife was not allowed into the cocktail party because she had forgotten her badge. All my “smooth talk” wouldn’t convince the doorman, and she went back up to the room to get her badge. Maybe we should have had the same thing in LA, but my guess is that he still would have been allowed in.

But I still don’t see what’s harmful about his comic. It was written in a playful manner and could very easily have been created with a very different tone. He was reacting just to what he saw in LA, and we didn’t have a booksigning or anything open to the public this time. Yeah, it was written by someone who hasn’t had the full “Reubens Experience” and it is obvious to those of us who have, but I still don’t see what’s damaging or insulting about this. It’s just a cartoon, right? I personally wouldn’t have done what he did, but I really don’t think he was way out of line. But maybe that’s just me.

#27 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 9:01 am

Man, you guys will argue about anything.

#28 Kelly McNutt
June/10/2009
@ 9:02 am

Thanks, but I need no explanation in ethics, professionalism or manners. The fact he crashed the party, well, that’s not something I would’ve done, but I disagree that he’s publicly criticizing the party and organization with this cartoon.

“You donâ??t crash a party, then publicly criticize the host.”

I don’t see the criticism. He says “A list of suggestions to make the event even more kick-bottom” which to this humble reader says “It was really fun, here’s some ways I think it’d be even more fun.”

Also, I don’t remember seeing him drinking anything… but then again, I was.

#29 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 9:18 am

Hey, Corey, don’t you have a fake rock concert to play or something?

#30 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 9:25 am

Nice one, Tatulli. Game set match.

#31 Dan Collins
June/10/2009
@ 9:26 am

It says he’s going to enjoy his first year membership, which should mean that he has joined. Hopefully he won’t be pilloried at the gate. He’s irreverent, outrageous and doesn’t take himself too seriously. He sounds like a cartoonist to me.

#32 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 9:47 am

When you’re talking to someone face to face, having a real conversation, it’s easy to see whether their comments are mean-spirited or not. With a comic strip, even one that’s expressing an opinion, it’s not always so straight forward; still, with Keith’s cartoon, it just doesn’t come across to me that he’s being mean-spirited about his suggestions. But, that’s not the reason for the disapproval from Daryl/Wiley/Mike/Rick, is it? To my mind, all they’re saying is, maybe Keith shouldn’t have aired his suggestions about a by-invitation-only event in a public forum.

#33 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 9:51 am

To be clear, I say the above only because I don’t want to see this discussion turn into yet another web cartoonists versus print cartoonists spat.

#34 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 9:54 am

‘Course, if ya’ll feel like fightin’, have at it. Alan’s the referee here.

#35 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 9:55 am

Keith is a print cartoonist, as far as I know.

#36 Mike Lester
June/10/2009
@ 9:58 am

“Man, you guys will argue about anything.” -C.Pandolph

And you guys will rationalize anything. I’m done.

#37 Steve Skelton
June/10/2009
@ 10:03 am

Wow. It really sounds like sour grapes because he had a free gin and tonic.

#38 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 10:07 am

Mike, Mark and all… I was only joking. Just trying to add a little humor.

Really. S’cool.

#39 David Reddick
June/10/2009
@ 10:08 am

Methinks some people need to lighten up. Sheesh!

#40 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 11:05 am

Hey check out comment #3 in this DAILY CARTOONIST thread:

http://dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2009/05/18/reuben-award-night-stringer-wanted/

I guess Stephan and I really are to blame because we never posted an answer to Keith.

#41 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 11:15 am

AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.

Nice job, MT and SP.

Man, when the Reubens come to Portland, ME in 2015, I am SO crashing the party at Gritty’s. Or, wait… Wouldn’t you all be crashing MY party?

#42 Patric Lewandowski
June/10/2009
@ 11:17 am

if people were so upset that he “crashed’ why didn’t they kick him out?

mayhaps we should start up a collection to pay for his food and drink, since apparently it bankrupted the mighty NCS.

seriously, the comic was funny and true. and the fact that a few loud people in the NCS don’t understand that people making comics simply make comics and the distribution point doesn’t matter, that’s just sad.

the fact is that there are some cartoonists who do make a living (some better than others) off working on the web. and that there is some animosity towards these individuals is ridiculous.

#43 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 11:22 am

“the fact is that there are some cartoonists who do make a living (some better than others) off working on the web. and that there is some animosity towards these individuals is ridiculous.”

Oh no. NO NO NO… Back that crazy train right back into the station.

I’ll throw up all over this thread. I swear, I will.

#44 Jason Nocera
June/10/2009
@ 11:25 am

Patric – those last two paragraphs have nothing to do with what this thread is about and seem to be just plopped there to start a silly flame war. C’mon, now…

#45 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 11:32 am

Settle down, Patric…this isn’t a print/web discussion…it’s about gatecrashing and propriety…it has nothing to do with print vrs web, got that? No need to start throwing around snarky phrases like “the mighty NCS”. Let’s keep this rational, ‘kay?

#46 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 11:36 am

Patrick,
Please see comment #33 above.

#47 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 11:36 am

Patric. Not Patrick. Sorry.

#48 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 11:37 am

All I can imagine is Satan giving a tour of Hell and right after he shows off the kitchen, he points to a room full of people screaming at each other and says, “And over here, we have the Print vs Web debate…”

(Bloodcurdling screams erupt from the pack of touring damned)

#49 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 11:51 am

You’re right, Mark. When Jeff spotted Keith there, he should have stormed over and frogmarched him out of the party. Or better still, called hotel security.We could have all lined up and kicked him as they dragged him out. That would have been the diplomatic way to handle an uncomfortable situation.

There were at least two professional cartoonists who crashed the cocktail party. Jeff was too polite to cause a scene, but I think it’s fair to assume that we will go back to our old policy of insisting that there is no admittance to any NCS event without an official badge. And we will probably have the management company do the policing, because otherwise we have to pay the hotel to provide security, and that cost also gets passed on to those who actually register for the event.

As to Steve’s remark that it was a “free gin and tonic.” Er, no … we are pointing out that it wasn’t actually “free.” We had to pick up the tab. (I love Keith’s suggestion that we make the Reubens cheaper. Perhaps if we didn’t have to cough up for his food and drink, then we could!)

I don’t, for one moment, think there’s anything mean-spirited about Keith’s cartoon. It’s obvious that he had a great time, and being a part of it has had the effect that it had on all of us when we first started to attend the Reubens, It’s inspiring and it fills you with enthusiasm for our profession, and you can’t wait for the next one.

I’ve not met Keith, but I enjoy his work, I’m sure he’s a good guy and I hope he grows to love the NCS. (And now we have the perfect excuse to make him get the drinks in every time he walks into the bar at The Reubens … and we will, believe me, we will.)

But I think the point here is that it’s not cool to stiff your friends, not cool to put them in an embarrassing position, and certainly not cool to then go into print and brag about it. And the alarming thing from an NCS point of view, is that it might encourage others to try and crash the Reubens next year.

#50 David Reddick
June/10/2009
@ 11:54 am

Don’t you mean ROBOT Satan, Corey? hee hee

#51 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 11:58 am

“Itâ??s obvious that he [Keith] had a great time, and being a part of it has had the effect that it had on all of us when we first started to attend the Reubens, Itâ??s inspiring and it fills you with enthusiasm for our profession, and you canâ??t wait for the next one.” Amen to that, Steve McGarry! It’s certainly true for this newcomer. Which is why I can’t believe Keith really meant to hurt the feelings of members of the club he wants to be a part of.

#52 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 12:00 pm

With an emphasis on the “meant” in that sentence, since he obviously did hurt some people’s feelings.

#53 Stacy Curtis
June/10/2009
@ 12:04 pm

Keith Knight should have just kept his mouth shut.
No one knew he ‘crashed’ the party until he said he crashed the party.

I agree that Keith going into a NCS event was a slap in the face of his colleagues who could not afford to attend the NCS weekend. I also fault the NCS for not making sure only the people who paid were allowed inside.

The arguments Keith made in his cartoon are lame compared to the complaints against the NCS that are discussed in private.

Keith made his arguments light-heartedly. He deserves credit for that. If I were going to make those complaints, I don’t think I would have showed the reserve he did.

I completely agree with Randal (#15) above.
Bravo, Randal! That needed to be said.

I don’t think you can throw around words like professional, ethics and manners until you display those qualities yourself.

#54 Wiley Miller
June/10/2009
@ 12:14 pm

“But I think the point here is that itâ??s not cool to stiff your friends, not cool to put them in an embarrassing position, and certainly not cool to then go into print and brag about it. ”

Thank you, Steve. Why this was such a difficult thing to understand by so many here is sad and rather disturbing.

#55 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 12:15 pm

“I fault the NCS …”

Of course you do, Stacy, of course you do :)

If the NCS hadn’t dressed up like a tart, all that thigh and cleavage, strangers wouldn’t be groping her Reubens. She was asking for it.

#56 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 12:23 pm

Steve McGarry, we’ve never met – though I did see your movie in L.A. – but I like your style, sir.

#57 Andrew Feinstein
June/10/2009
@ 12:23 pm

I almost never participate in these debates so as you can see this one in particular caught my attention. While Keith was in the wrong to have “crashed” the Reubens, his cartoon is 100% dead on. Let me repeat that: 100% dead on.

As one of the younger members of the NCS, I’ve been disappointed in their lack of inclusion for web cartoonists and indie cartoonists. I’ve only attended one Reuben awards, found it not to be very inviting for young artists and haven’t been back since (even though this year’s event was literally in my backyard). I also speak regularly with popular web cartoonists and most have either a) never heard of the NCS or b) were appalled that they had to be “syndicated” in order to become members.

At Comic-Con last year, I spoke with Mr. Keane (who’s been nothing but nice and gracious since I’ve known him) directly about the need to include web cartoonists in the NCS or the organization itself will die alongside the newspaper comic strip. I don’t want to put words in Jeff’s mouth, but I believe he said something about where do you draw the line with the web cartoonists? – i.e. how do you determine if they’re truly professional or not. It’s a fair question, but my response would be: who cares?

Comic strips (especially newspaper comic strips) are a fast dying art form, and we should welcome anyone who turns out a regular strip / editorial cartoon / panel / what have you. May I suggest having a panel of current NCS members – young and old – who review prospective members to deem if their admission should be viable even if they aren’t “syndicated” – a term that means less and less with each passing year.

I understand and respect the NCS’ desire to have the organization be made up of paid, “professional” cartoonists. But we need to make the NCS more accessible to more cartoonists so that the organization can thrive. Don’t, and it will become the comic strip artists version of the GOP: a bunch of old, white guys yearning for the way things used to be.

#58 Terry LaBan
June/10/2009
@ 12:30 pm

I went to my first and so far only Rueben Convention in 2001. On Saturday night, almost everyone disappeared. I found out the next morning that it was because there was a “private” party in the Presidential Suite to which only a select group of cartoonists and their associates were invited. From what I understand, this tradition continues. It seems pretty hypocritical to grouse about someone crashing the cocktail party because everyone else paid to be there when at the same time the NCS is excluding perfectly legitimate members from another NCS function which was also paid for with their dues. The point is that there’s plenty of “bad form” to go around. Go Keith.

#59 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 12:42 pm

Not that old canard, again?

First of all, members dues are NOT used to fund any event at The Reubens. I repeat NOT. It would be terribly unfair to have members who cannot afford to attend The Reubens see their dues used to wine and dine those who can afford the trip.

The Reubens are paid for by registration fees, ads in the Reuben Journal and whatever sponsorship the President can hustle.

Registration is typically around $300 to attend. The actual cost per head is more like $600. It’s not just the food and beverage costs, we have to pay for the awards, the bands, the AV equipment, the lighting, the stage crews, the staffing, the buses to external events, the printing, the name tags, the lanyards … on and on, ad infintum.

The President’s Party is a small after hours event to thank those who worked on the convention, and honor the nominees and winners. It is frequently held in the President’s bedroom. Unfortunately, the bedroom does not hold 400 people, so it is kept small.

The event is paid for through sponsorship.

Luckily, Keith did not know about this tradition. Until now. Nice going, LaBan.

#60 Mike Lester
June/10/2009
@ 12:45 pm

Let me get this straight: A dues paying, nominated member of NCS who couldn’t afford to make it to L.A., is critical of a non-member who freeloads and then tells his hosts how they can make his sponging more enjoyable, is “arrogant”? Pretzel logic at it’s finest.

#61 J Read
June/10/2009
@ 12:55 pm

To those of you commenting here on the make-up of the NCS membership: There are MANY members of the National Cartoonists Society who aren’t syndicated comic strippers. As one of those members, admittedly for a short time, I have been to two Reuben weekends, meeting over a hundred cartoonists – many of them syndicated and quite well-known, mind you – and I have NEVER ONCE been made to feel like I didn’t belong. I have, on the other hand, met many cartoonists (comic book artists, web comics creators, graphic novelists) at conventions in recent years who obviously felt thay couldn’t be bothered with me. Go figure.

#62 Terry LaBan
June/10/2009
@ 1:13 pm

So I spilled the beans on your exclusive party? Sorry, Steve. I didn’t see the clause swearing me to secrecy when I signed the NCS loyalty oath. And actually, it doesn’t make it better that “only” the money of the people actually who paid to be at the convention is used. It makes it worse. I find it hard to believe, having made some inquiries into the matter, that the only people who go to the President’s Party are people who “helped” with the convention(unless that definition is extremely broad) and the nominees and winners of awards. But even if it is true, then what’s the big secret? It reinforces the impression that the NCS doesn’t fully welcome even everyone who is there legitimately.

#63 Rick Stromoski
June/10/2009
@ 1:17 pm

Andrew-

As I recall the Reuben you attended, my wife Danna and I were very happy to meet you and I remember talking at length about your feature Girls and Sports. Even after the Reubens were over Danna and you still continued a dialog about your feature via email.

I also recall introducing you to several cartoonists
over the weekend. I’m sorry if your one Reuben experience wasn’t as enjoyable as it seemed.

The vast majority of NCS members are NOT syndicated. They comprise illustrators, magazine gag cartoonists, greeting card designers, animators, comic book and graphic novelists, advertising illustrators, licensing artists, and yes web cartoonists.

Syndicated newspaper cartoonists make up about 25% of NCS membership. They are also not a bunch of old white guys as you claim. Female members are represented in the same numbers as is reflected in the industry. In fact the fastest growing demographic in NCS membership is women cartoonists.

#64 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 1:19 pm

I think Keith just made a thoughtless mistake, one I’m sure he won’t make in the future. And, hey, if anybody should be pissed it’s me…I paid for my whole family to be there and three of them don’t drink alcohol (though truth be don’t, I probably drank their fill). But I can’t help it, I’m not offended by the cartoon or Keith’s being at the cocktail party. Does that make me a bad NCS member?

#65 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 1:33 pm

“But I canâ??t help it, Iâ??m not offended by the cartoon or Keithâ??s being at the cocktail party. Does that make me a bad NCS member?”

No, it makes you a normal human being.

#66 Rick Stromoski
June/10/2009
@ 1:34 pm

Terry-

I don’t think the President’s party was ever a secret…it was just understood that while the rest of the Reuben attendees were free to explore the host city, meet and hang out with their friends, relax by the pool or shop that there was a cadre of volunteers who worked behind the scenes all weekend preparing shows, seminars and demonstrations or who assisted the NCS President for the past year to put on the weekend without a hitch, would be able to have a drink in the Presidential suite after the Awards banquet as a thank you for their efforts. These same volunteers who paid the same registration fees but were stuck behind the scenes all weekend. You’d begrudge them an hour or so in the Presidents suite?

It would never occur to most to either crash that event, as some have done in recent years, or begrudge them the down time.

#67 Dave Stephens
June/10/2009
@ 1:49 pm

Normal shmormal.

Doesn’t matter wether I think party crashing is wrong.
Doesn’t matter wether I think graffiti is wrong.
Doesn’t matter wether I think not paying bus fare is wrong.
Doesn’t matter wether I think shoplifting is wrong.

‘Cause, hey, they are all still WRONG. Against the law.

Nothing offensive about his cartoon at all. The cartoon itself should not offend. But If you are NOT invited to a party, then you CAN’T go to the party and still say you respect the folks who did not invite you especially since the folks attending lawfully PAID their dues, PAID for the drinks, PAID for the venue… Just because he’s a professional cartoonist doesn’t excuse his unprofessional behavior – he’s mocking an institution, and that’s fine, but he’s mocking it while his hand is grabbing food and drinks from it that he brags about NOT paying for!!!

Also, if a building is owned by 4 people and one of those people doesn’t mind some graffiti on it, does that make it right? Probably not. ;)

#68 Dave Stephens
June/10/2009
@ 1:56 pm

Ask the “normal human being” if someone HE didn’t invite showed up at HIS event and ate HIS food and drank HIS alcohol just how HE would feel about that…

I think a normal reaction would be, “HEY, you #@!!, get the #@!% OUT of here!”

Seriously, I’m sure Keith is a great guy, but his behavior here is simply rude and he needs to apologize.

#69 Corey Pandolph
June/10/2009
@ 2:04 pm

You spelled “whether” wrong. 4 times.

#70 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 2:19 pm

“Party crashing” is against the law?

#71 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 2:26 pm

BTW … during the Reuben weekend, we throw a kids party. We give them pizza and soda, and hire a balloon-twisting clown. We have a meeting for the chapter chairs and representatives, and I don’t know what the protocol is now, but when I ruled the world, I used to make sure that we served them coffee and cookies. One year, octagenarian Tom Gill staged a seminar and it was his birthday, so I laid on a surprise birthday cake and refreshments for all who attended.

I’ve already explained that The President’s party is not paid for by members dues, or by the registration fee, but is actually a sponsored event to thank those who helped on the convention, honor nominees and winners … and I forgot to mention, we also invite the sponsors. (The people who actually stumped up the thousands of dollars that allow us to charge attendees half of what it actually costs to stahe the damn thing.)

In any event, I’d just like to apologize to anyone who attended a Reuben weekend and feels that they were cheated out of a balloon animal and a piece of Tom Gill’s birthday cake.

And Tatulli, having sat through your acceptance speech and then witnessed your karaoke antics, I think its absolutely amazing that every member of your family doesn’t drink themselves into oblivion an a regular basis. I know the rest of us have to.

#72 Scott Metzger
June/10/2009
@ 2:28 pm

Back in the early ’90s, I did some hard time for party crashing. Those were dark days.

#73 John Schmoolie
June/10/2009
@ 2:31 pm

Whoa, 69 comments, the mere mention of “webcomickers”, I almost thought this was one of the routine print vs web debates. We were due for one. However on looking through threads, it is about a syndicated cartoonist gatecrashing. HOW DARE HE!! My, my, NCS is such a hospitable bunch aren’t they!

#74 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 2:34 pm

Well, I didn’t say they don’t shoot drugs, but they definitely don’t drink. BTW, where was Roy Schneider with all the good smack this year?

#75 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 2:38 pm

I’ve got one name for you, Tatulli … and you didn’t hear it from me, okay?

Doty.

#76 John Lotshaw
June/10/2009
@ 2:45 pm

I wondered why things seemed so sedate all weekend long.

#77 Mike Cope
June/10/2009
@ 2:48 pm

Mark, I believe that Roy is still recovering from a recent music tour … http://royschneider.com/

#78 Brett Stevens
June/10/2009
@ 2:51 pm

Oh Wiley! You curmudgeon you!

#79 John Schmoolie
June/10/2009
@ 2:56 pm

Why do I get the feeling that the “unprofessionalism” knock on Keith for gatecrashing, is nothing but a smoke screen for not liking any of the suggestions he had ;)

#80 Mark Tatulli
June/10/2009
@ 2:57 pm

I thought Doty was a tweeker.

#81 Rick Stromoski
June/10/2009
@ 2:58 pm

Schmoolie read post#16

#82 Jason Nocera
June/10/2009
@ 3:11 pm

@72: Weren’t they being hospitable when they didn’t throw him out?

#83 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 3:12 pm

Smokescreen? What on earth are you talking about, John? Go back to Stromoski’s reply at #16. We already do most of what he is suggesting we do. The only thing we don’t do is “aggressively court” web and indie cartoonists.

There are differing opinions within the NCS about the wisdom of this. My own opinion is that if you are a full-time professional cartoonist you should be in the NCS. If you’re not … if you are an amateur, or a part-timer or a hobbyist … then the NCS isn’t for you. End of the errand.

But smokescreen? We’re trying to deflect attention from Keith’s hard-hitting truths? Are you serious?

This boils down to one simple thing: Can you imagine how uncomfortable it would have been to drag Keith (or the other interloper, for that matter) out of the party? Or refuse him entry, while all his peers were walking by? Embarrasing for him, as well as us.

We pride ourselves on being pretty friendly and welcoming at The Reubens … but please don’t be a d**k and turn up uninvited to gatecrash private event,s because you put the rest of us in an awkward position. And don’t be a double-d**k and brag about it in public, because you’ll encourage every other d**kwit to turn up and try to do the same.

What part of this don’t you get?

#84 John Schmoolie
June/10/2009
@ 3:29 pm

@Jason Nocera I believe they did not throw him out since they did not know he was gatecrushing? After all it is Keith who revealed it himself. If they had known, who knows, Keith may have been drawing a different cartoon!

#85 John Schmoolie
June/10/2009
@ 3:34 pm

@Steve McGarry prickly aren’t we? And you just made my point! You are venting more at his suggestions as opposed to his gatecrushing.

#86 Kelly McNutt
June/10/2009
@ 3:39 pm

Who was the other crasher?

#87 Stacy Curtis
June/10/2009
@ 3:41 pm

Make Mark Tatulli dress in that mermaid costume and check badges at the door next year.

#88 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 3:48 pm

Not prickly, John … just remembering why I avoid commenting on these boards. No-one listens, and everyone has their own little agendas. (And with respect, you don’t actually have a point.)

And in answer to your remark at #82: No, we knew Keith and at least one other syndicated cartoonist crashed the party. As I said at the beginning of this interminable thread, Jeff was too polite to cause a scene, and chose to turn a blind eye. We just didn’t expect Keith to go out and brag about it in public.

But I can tell you now, next year we will go back to insisting that there is no admittance to any event without a badge. Unfortunately, this means that we have to insist EVERYONE shows a badge, because otherwise the policy is unenforceable, and a lurking Tatulli will insist that his wife be admitted without her badge because we have shown mercy to the 85-year-old wife of a past Reuben winner. So the old girl will be refused entry and forced to totter back, on those old frail legs, all the way upstairs to the 17th floor to retrieve her badge, past LaBan banging on the door of the Presidential suite demanding entry, then totter all the way back down to the party, which by this time, is petering out. The stress and exertion will undoubtedly give the old girl conniptions, and she will have one of her turns. I hope you’re proud of yourself, Keith. That’s someone’s Grandma you’ve just tried to kill.

#89 John Schmoolie
June/10/2009
@ 4:00 pm

@Steve McGarry, you doth protest too much! One wonders if the reaction would have been the same with an oh say, Mort Walker gate crushing and then offering the same suggestions!

#90 Steve McGarry
June/10/2009
@ 4:20 pm

Good point, John … I’ve never liked the look of Walker, and let’s be honest, what has he ever done for the NCS or the profession? That Reuben-winning, past-President, museum-founding, Milt Gross Fund-heading, Honorary chairman of the entire NCS old rascal … it would be just like him to gatecrash one of our events.

Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I just realized that I’m not strictly telling the truth in this thread. I knew about the other cartoonist who crashed the party, because we actually had a drink together at the cocktail party, and the cheeky sod told me had gatecrashed! Jeff was with us at that point, and a few minutes later he told me he wasn’t the only one, but that he thought it best to just turn a blind eye and not create a fuss. So I’m ASSUMING that he was talking about Keith, although I don’t really recall if he mentioned him by name. If not, I wonder how many gatecrashers were there? Or is Keith taking credit for someone else’s gatecrashing?

In any event, smokescreen and abundant protestations aside, let’s just agree that non-NCS members are welcome to seek out the local NCS chapter and strike up friendships and connections … and non-members are welcome to attend the Reubens as a guest of an NCS member. But please, don’t try and crash the event as it makes everyone uncomfortable.

#91 Ted Rall
June/10/2009
@ 4:42 pm

What Keith did was very punk rock, and I’m definitely laughing.

That said, if anyone tries a stunt like that in Seattle in a few weeks, they’ll be pulling rent-a-cop boot nails out of their hindquarters for weeks.

#92 RS Davis
June/10/2009
@ 4:46 pm

Wow…
As a very uninvolved bystander witnessing this melee, I am intrigued. I am of course not an NCS member and have never been to a party of theirs.

But! It seems crass and unpolitic of anyone to show up uninvited to a relativly expensive, invitation only party, crash it and then draw up a list of complaints as to how the hosts could do their jobs better.

I had to read this whole thread to totally ‘get’ some of his snarky implications, but frankly at first blush when I read that comic cold, my reaction was “Who is this arrogant, snotty little brat that drew this thing?”

I don’t know Mr. Knight personally at all- that was just my outsider’s reaction to reading his strip cold. I’m sure he really is a good guy judging from several of the posts above.

But, if someone wanted to join a fraternity, I don’t think they’d crash the ‘rush night’ party then pour a cup of cold pee in the punch bowl when they didn’t get recruited….

I’m just sayin’…

#93 Pete Liddel
June/10/2009
@ 5:30 pm

Maybe it is just me, but I didn’t see this as someone complaining. More of somebody who enjoyed a get together(albeit by gatecrashing – Keith, get an invitation next time and save us some grief!) and was offering some pointers on how to improve it even further. Even Daryl Cagle’s rebuttal took it as such, and gave a good constructive response as to what would and would not work. Just saying!

#94 Abell Smith
June/10/2009
@ 5:43 pm

I support Keith’s call for an all-out cartoonist bowling tourney (+beer) to settle all this. Further, I make a motion for this to go down in Seattle, at any of our several suitable venues…

#95 Stacy Curtis
June/10/2009
@ 6:42 pm

@ Ted Rall — Is that a dare? ;-)

It’s easy to crash an AAEC convention, as long as you’re buying the next round, a few hundred unemployed editorial cartoonists will be your best friend.

#96 Mike Krahulik
June/10/2009
@ 9:26 pm

It sounds like it was quite a night. I’m surprised no one broke a hip.

#97 Phil Wohlrab
June/10/2009
@ 10:36 pm

Mike, nice coloring in “The Lookouts”. Looks awesome.

#98 Bill Amend
June/11/2009
@ 7:00 am

>It sounds like it was quite a night. Iâ??m surprised no one broke a hip.

Don’t make me start calling you a whippersnapper, Mike. :)

Re Keith’s cartoon, when I first saw it I was frustrated, not because it was (gently) critical of the Reuben weekend, but because I know Keith, talked with him at the Reubens, and most of his suggestions in the strip were things that the NCS has either tried (and didn’t work too well) or were things we sometimes do but just didn’t this last time. All he had to do before this strip was talk about this stuff with me or anyone at that party and he could’ve zeroed in more on things that were fairer targets. And by publishing something that’s somewhat uninformed, he presents to his audience a picture of the NCS that’s not entirely accurate.

BUT…I really don’t see it as a big deal. Cartoonists poke fun at stuff all the time and it’s clear Keith’s strip wasn’t meant as an insult. I certainly wouldn’t want this strip to hurt Keith’s application for membership.

AND…in my experience it’s useful and good to know how you’re being perceived by an outsider (and potential member). Even if they’re 90% wrong, it’s worth pondering what gave them the impressions they have and working to clear that stuff up.

#99 Dave Blazek
June/11/2009
@ 8:04 am

Just wanted to say that for my first couple of years at the Reubens I protested by paying double then going to the cocktail party and secretly pouring smuggled-in alcohol into the bottles behind the bar when no one was looking. (Okay, it was Banker’s Club brand, but still …). I’d have done a cartoon about it but no one reads my cartoon so why use the time.

I think Jeff handled the situation with Keith adroitly and if I’m reading between the lines correctly here, no one is ultra-pissed at Keith, but there is a legitimate concern that if word gets out that crashing is easy, then easy crashing we shall see. As for the “Private Party”. Well, I went to my first one this year and I assumed it was thanks for being on a panel. And since I skipped some pool time to make sure I didn’t come off as a blithering idiot on said panel (yeah, THAT worked) the party seemed like a nice gesture. They had upscale potato chips. Even if I didn’t go to the party, even if sponsors didn’t foot the bill, I’d be happy to pitch in for it. People work their asses off â?? I spy them through the rim of my rum and coke, looking serious and wearing pants â?? and it’s a nice thank you. And finally, there must be something to these Reuben thing because people get all fired up about them. Oh, and bowling would be great because nobody’s hands would be useful for drawing for about a week and a month later the comics pages and the web would be dominated by shakey lines.

#100 David Reddick
June/11/2009
@ 8:08 am

@ Ted Rall Note to self: Place large magnet in sphinkter when gatecrashing AAEC

#101 August J. Pollak
June/11/2009
@ 10:11 am

Dear Mike K: Many of us like you. Please stop hating everyone.

That said, I really have to reflect on a certain bit of irony (or maybe coincidence) that Keith is pretty much totally right about what he said, but that’s getting ignored by people complaining about the way he delivered his message, ironically by some of the same people who are the most vocal about attacking certain cartoonists based solely on the medium in which they present their material.

Kudos to Amen for daring to suggest the concept of common ground somewhere in this.

#102 August J. Pollak
June/11/2009
@ 10:12 am

Amend. Argh.

#103 Steve McGarry
June/11/2009
@ 10:51 am

“Regarding his suggestions many have already been in place for a number of years. The NCS has taken the Reubens to several smaller venues over the years Asheville, Kansas City, Cancun, first come to mind. Nearly every Reuben weekend of late has had a public event either as a book signing, public auction of original art, meet and greet to raise money for charity etc. Reuben weekends also usually include cartoonist vs, cartoonist events that include Golf, tennnis, softball etc when the venue allows it.”
Rick Stromoski at #16

“most of his suggestions in the strip were things that the NCS has either tried (and didnâ??t work too well) or were things we sometimes do but just didnâ??t this last time ”
Bill Amend at #98

It’s not being ignored, August. Had Keith done a little research, he would have learned that the NCS already does, or has done, pretty much everything he advocated.

#104 Mike Krahulik
June/11/2009
@ 10:58 am

– Thanks Phil, I appreciate it!

-Bill I prefer nipper or anklebiter.

-August, I’m not hating on anyone just making a joke. I don’t have a horse in this race.

#105 Darrin Bell
June/11/2009
@ 11:04 am

“That said, I really have to reflect on a certain bit of irony (or maybe coincidence) that Keith is pretty much totally right about what he said, but thatâ??s getting ignored by people complaining about the way he delivered his message, ironically by some of the same people who are the most vocal about attacking certain cartoonists based solely on the medium in which they present their material.”

Seriously? Must EVERYTHING be turned into this “webcartoonist vs. print cartoonist” nonsense? So a few syndicated types aren’t stoked about the Web. So what? Why does anyone even care whether cartoonist X acknowledges the viability of someone else’s business model? Get over it please, because every time I see this insanity I feel like chucking my monitor out the window. And I can’t afford to keep doing that.

Anyway, Keith’s a friend of mine. He’s a great cartoonist, a great guy, he’s excited about joining the NCS & he meant well with his suggestions. I e-mailed him to ask if he was going to the Reubens. He was interested but it seemed it was the first he’d heard of it being in his backyard. It was too late for me to invite him as a guest so I didn’t; so he showed up to the welcoming party on his own to see what it was like. Next time Keith goes I’m sure he’ll have registered and I’m sure he’ll buy a round of drinks for everyone (probably with McGarry’s credit card).

#106 Wiley Miller
June/11/2009
@ 11:05 am

“That said, I really have to reflect on a certain bit of irony (or maybe coincidence) that Keith is pretty much totally right about what he said…”

“Kudos to Amen(d) for daring to suggest the concept of common ground somewhere in this.”

Perhaps you should go back and re-read what Bill Amend wrote in regard to your conclusion Keith is “pretty much totally right”, as well as Daryl Cagle’s initial response. What exactly did you think he was “totally right” about, and how did you come to that conclusion?

#107 Jon Rosenberg
June/11/2009
@ 11:19 am

My, it’s awfully chilly in here. You girls should be PAYING someone like Keith to hang out with your sagging asses, not complaining about it.

#108 Mark Tatulli
June/11/2009
@ 11:27 am

Easy there, Jon…Keith was interesting but he wasn’t THAT interesting. His ass sagged just as much as ours.

#109 Michael Fry
June/11/2009
@ 11:28 am

Oh Lord, I’m hesitant to wade into this mess, but here goes. I’m a past member of the NCS. But not presently. I’ve been to four conventions. Always had a great time. At least the parts I remembered. Just a bunch of nice, generous people all around.

Keith’s cartoon is a tame criticism of the NCS. Harmless. He shouldn’t have gate-crashed, but that doesn’t mean some of his comments aren’t worth talking about. Especially the inclusion of web cartoonists.

As someone with a foot in both print and web, I find it unconscionable that the NCS doesn’t include web cartoonists. Not just include them, but actively seek them out. There are so many great “professional” cartoonists online. More than several making a whole lot more money than I am.

As print slowly fades away, it’s just an obvious act of self-destruction for the NCS not to insure it’s future relevancy by reaching out to web cartoonists.

Judged by the rancor on this site, it may be too late. But I hope not.

Mike

#110 Patric Lewandowski
June/11/2009
@ 11:40 am

so wait, are we discussing the comic he drew or are we discussing something he did?

#111 Keith Knight
June/11/2009
@ 11:42 am

A coupla points I’d like to make:

*I did not attend the Reuben Awards ceremony or the BBQ at Cathy’s house. When asked if I’d attend, I told most that if I’d paid $300 a plate and I saw me coming in without paying, I’d have me kicked out.

*Though I DID attend the cocktail party (and dropped the ball on REALLY taking advantage of the open bar), most of my time was spent downstairs in the hotel lobby, boozin’ and schmoozin. And discussing, with current and past NCS board members, the very issues I brought up in the comic. I also wanted to know what the membership fee gets you.

*I am in the process of becoming a member, but it was only after the discussions I had and the people I met at this year’s event. I did it with Comic-Con in San Diego years ago and the Cartoon Art Museum more recently.

Perhaps I should’ve waited to become a member, and made the suggestions quietly from the inside.. The comic came from my enthusiasm and excitement of meeting folks like Tatulli and Borgman, London and Coverly. I wouldn’t have done the strip if I didn’t want to join and help the NCS become as big a resource to cartoonists as the Daily Cartoonist is.

I think a discussion like this needs to come from the inside AND outside..So I’m happy for this thread. (I corrected “Pittsburgh” before the strip went to print)

I also think the AAEC and NCS should join forces. But that’s me being all “Kumbaya” again.

*I will buy a round at the next NCS, but it’s gonna be shots of tequila in the dive bar across the street from the hotel. TWO shots for John Glynn and Amy Lago!!

(and from my end, my readers would love a chance to meet and greet the whole lot of you)

#112 David Reddick
June/11/2009
@ 11:44 am

Agreed, Michael. I mean, for God’s sake, they now have an award for animated features. Why a “webcomics” section isn’t included is just ludicrous.

#113 Corey Pandolph
June/11/2009
@ 12:04 pm

Hey Keith,

Do us all a favor and stay out of the conversation until your properly invited.

#114 J Read
June/11/2009
@ 12:12 pm

Keith, since you’ve weighed-in here (it’s good to hear from the guy who initiated this “discussion”), I’d like to ask you a question: Do you think the majority of the regular readers of your comic strip “got” the strip, or was it even intended for your regular readers?

#115 Corey Pandolph
June/11/2009
@ 12:24 pm

you’re, not your. Jeez.

#116 August J. Pollak
June/11/2009
@ 12:26 pm

Mike- fair enough, I guess I just didn’t want this to turn into Yet Another Web vs. Print Clusterf—(TM). Just gets disheartening to be in my 20’s and told I’m a member of a group of “sagging asses.”

Wiley- I think “Keith is totally right” is inherent in its meaning- he’s right that web people should be invited and the spectrum of the medium should be broadened, and he’s right that at least some portion of public participation is really fun and would be beneficial to awareness of the event and the cartoonists involved. A lot of people ignored discussing that in favor of demanding how he was let into the building.

And Darrin, my point was not a print vs. web issue, in fact as I just noted to Mike K. that’s also the one thing I want to avoid. But it can’t be avoided that there’s a very strong and problematic mentality about being uninclusive and dismissive of other, newer talents, and as someone who’s also younger and newer (jury’s out on talented) to cartooning I noticed a bit of that same attitude. That’s exactly the attitude (and the inverse response as well) that LEADS to old model vs. new model arguments.

#117 RS Davis
June/11/2009
@ 12:34 pm

Maybe it’s a naive question, but why don’t web cartoonists just start their own society? The NCS website says it started in 1946 with 32 members, but by 1947 it had 112 members. I guarantee there are more than 112 web comics out there now.

Instead of standing outside of someone else’s house throwing rocks, demanding to get in and criticizing those inside for how they run the house when they don’t let you in, why don’t the several hundreds of web cartoonists band togther and start their own socisty? Call the National Web Cartoonist Society or something.

Again, I am just an outsider, but it seems there aren’t any laws preventing webbers from doing their own thing.

Maybe it’s because I AM an outsider, but frankly I don’t understand this demanding attitude that seems (only *seems* – I could be mistaken) to suggest it is entitled to be allowed into the NCS just because web comics are the current new thing.

They kind of remind me of the old Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips talking about getting into the Super Bowl by saying “We tried knocking on the door to get in, next time we’ll kick the SOB in!”

Maybe it was only good natured humor, but when self appointed ‘hipsters’ attack established professionals as ‘sagging asses’ it comes across a bratty bitter grapes.

It that doesn’t seem to be the way to get in the good graces of an organization you’re asking something from.

If print really is dying and will be dead soon as webbers claim, then let them start their own group. The natural evolution of technology and media will settle the feud in a few years anyway, right? They’ll replace the NCS eventually and they can make their own rules, if the basis of their arguments are true.

I think the dirty little secret here is that NCS cartoonist actually make a living at cartooning and like associating with other professionals in their field, and webbers do what they do for free (mostly) but want to legitimize themselves by getting to associate with those that actually get paid for cartooning. Again, I could be wrong.

But, if a bunch of kids that try to do comedy routines on YouTube for free demanded to be let into an association run by and for professional stand up comedians like Larry Miller, Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Dave Chappelle et al., well let’s just say they probably wouldn’t get past that jack booted security guard someone mentioned earlier.

Frankly, maybe the webbers should grow up a bit first. I like several web comics, but just because some 21 year old knows how to use a Intuos and Photoshop doesn’t mean he’s a professional. I can draw better than Stephan Pastis, but that doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn, either.

Just an innocent bystander’s observation.

#118 August J. Pollak
June/11/2009
@ 12:44 pm

RS- not going to have the print/web fight, and 90% of your comment is totally instigating this all over again. It’s not productive.

All I can really say to respond is: of the two or three webcartoonists who have replied in this thread, all are professional cartoonists who are completely self-sufficient off their profession- not to make this a phallic checkbook contest, but one of whom likely is more successful than half the NCS. Given then their work is “making them a living,” under what criteria do you now discount them from being qualified to join the NCS?

I have almost exclusively appeared online, since my print pickups are not regular gigs. Yet I’m warmly welcomed in the AAEC, because I’m an editorial cartoonist who makes at least some small amount of money doing so. (And even if I didn’t, I’d be a potential for a Junior membership) Why can’t the same apply for the NCS to web-based cartoonists who are far more successful?

Just as the AAEC is made greater by Keith’s joining last year, so will the NCS. And I would say the same about the NCS’s benefit from either Jon Rosenberg or Mike Krahulik joining if only they were made to feel welcome.

#119 Shane Davis
June/11/2009
@ 12:59 pm

August,
I promise you I am not trying to instigate anything. I qualified my lack of knowledge of the internal details of much of this debate by stating clearly I am an outsider.

I only gave an impression of what the debate looks like from the outside to an outsider. I don’t enjoy starting fights nor am I trying to do so here.

I am genuinely curious why, if web comics are the future and the NCS is truly a bunch of old ‘saggin asses’, then why do the webbers want in their organization so badly?

Wouldn’t they be better off starting their own clubhouse? If what you say about the earnability of webbers is true, then they should be even less inclined to need into the NCS.

Again, it looks like sour grapes. The NCS is a private entity that makes it’s own rules about who gets in – they pay their own dues to keep it running, don’t they?

Why can’t webbers do they same thing? It is a legitimate question, not a provocation.

#120 Shane Davis
June/11/2009
@ 1:03 pm

BTW, I just noticed that the system finally changed my “RS” designation to “Shane” after several weeks. I am indeed the same individual.

#121 Wiley Miller
June/11/2009
@ 1:04 pm

“heâ??s right that web people should be invited and the spectrum of the medium should be broadened…”

I’m assuming from this that you don’t know what the NCS is, so I guess it will have to be explained again for the umpteenth time here.

The NCS is a professional organization comprised of professional cartoonists. It’s not just comic strip cartoonists, but cartoonists from all mediums. No one is shunned because of the medium they work in. I cannot speak for them, but I’m sure that if someone who is making their living in cartooning on the web applied, meeting the requirements for membership, then they would be accepted. There is no need for the NCS to “reach out” to the web community. If anyone in the web community wants to join, then they should apply.
As much as many here like to think there’s some sort of prejudice against web comics, there simply isn’t.

Also, many members of the AAEC are members of the NCS. The AAEC is a professional organization geared for just that one field, editorial cartooning. However, there are a number of members of the AAEC who are not professional cartoonists and would not be eligible for membership in the NCS.

I hope that clears it up for you.

And good to hear from you Keith. I know your cartoon and comments were well intentioned. I’m no stranger to making gaffs due to over enthusiasm. Your heart was in the right place, but your head wasn’t. It’s hardly a big deal. We learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.

#122 Eddie Pittman
June/11/2009
@ 1:20 pm

Before we dive into the abyss of “web vs. print, ” I just wanted to say the Keith posted a very classy response. I followed the link to check out his strip and really enjoyed it. You can crash my party anytime Keith!

Of course, I don’t have any friends and never have parties…eh, well, back to the abyss!

#123 Dave Shabet
June/11/2009
@ 1:54 pm

“As much as many here like to think thereâ??s some sort of prejudice against web comics, there simply isnâ??t.”

If one of webcomics’ long-standing pro-quality artists were to apply and request one of the two required letters of recommendation from you, would you be the first to vouch for an internet-syndicated artist to join your ranks? In the absence of syndicate editors what would be your standard by which you measure what passes for professional work?

It’s one thing to say “anyone is welcome to apply”, but with the near-palpable air of ill-sentiment towards self-syndicated internet cartoonists felt around NCS members it seems to me like the Letters of Recommendation are the iron gates keeping the rabble out of the country club. Would you be the first to open those gates to a new generation of cartoonist? And if so, who among webcomics would you exemplify as a professional standard?

#124 Michael Fry
June/11/2009
@ 2:02 pm

Wiley,

I do not doubt that a web cartoonist that met the criteria would be welcome to join the NCS.

But when web cartooning isn’t honored with a separate category award, why would a web cartoonist want to join? Every other type of professional cartooning is honored with an award.

The first step the NCS could do to reach out to web cartoonists is honor them with an award. Take it from me, you honor someone with a nomination, they tend to show up. They show up and hopefully realize we all share the same love of cartooning whether it’s in print or online.

#125 Michael Koes
June/11/2009
@ 2:30 pm

Hoo boy this was pretty good. Wiley’s position is amusing, to say the least.

“No OUTSIDERS may criticize the NCS! Only those who are already members and thus more likely to share my opinions are allowed to criticize the NCS!”

Have all the private parties you want, but it doesn’t seem like that’s really what the fuss is about. Shame on Keith for respecting the price tag on the awards banquet. How dare he only sneak a free drink and talk to some colleagues.

#126 Jason Nocera
June/11/2009
@ 2:37 pm

Michael – I think it’s become a bit of a Catch 22. There’s no category for web cartooning because there’s not enough professional-level web cartoonists for it to warrant it’s own category and perhaps we’re all unaware of this mass amount of professional web cartoonists because there is no category for it for them to be nominated/recognized. Of course that’s me speaking as a non-NCS member.

#127 J Read
June/11/2009
@ 3:11 pm

Michael, not to dull your point – and I know you were there in L.A. – but did you notice how many division winners ( I don’t know about nominees) did NOT show up?

#128 J Read
June/11/2009
@ 3:13 pm

I do know that two of the three nominees for the Greeting Card Division Award were there.

#129 Alan Gardner
June/11/2009
@ 3:29 pm

Just as a fair warning, this thread keeps teetering towards a print v. web debate. We’ve had that debate. Multiple times. And I’m not excited about it starting up again.

#130 Wiley Miller
June/11/2009
@ 3:39 pm

First of all, let me make this very clear… I do not speak for the NCS, nor do I presume to. I don’t know all the regulations and steps it takes to become a member, but the main criteria is that you have to be a professional cartoonist, which means, that’s what you do for a living.

“But when web cartooning isnâ??t honored with a separate category award.”

You have that backwards. If web cartoonists are eligible for membership, then they should join. The more of presence they have, the more likely an award would be created.

Rather than demanding that the NCS lower it’s standards in accepting new members, perhaps those making the demands would be better served to step up their game to meet the requirements of being a professional cartoonist, just as Keith Knight did, as well as everyone else in the organization.

#131 August J. Pollak
June/11/2009
@ 3:52 pm

Rather than demanding that the NCS lower itâ??s standards in accepting new members, perhaps those making the demands would be better served to step up their game to meet the requirements of being a professional cartoonist, just as Keith Knight did

Since Keith Knight has been a successful cartoonist for over ten years, I can only assume that’s what you mean by “meeting the requirements” to join the NCS.

By that standard, and since you yourself said that the NCS heartily welcomes professional cartoonists of “all mediums,” Mike Krahulik and Jon Rosenberg would both also be eligible to join without any need to “step up their game,” whatever the hell that would be. So unless you’re just trying to start the pointless print v. web debate again, I have absolutely no idea what this idea of “lowering its standards” is about.

#132 Dave Shabet
June/11/2009
@ 4:36 pm

Standards don’t seem to be the problem, and I don’t think the NCS should lower them by any means, but rather they should accomodate for the reality that people are making their living outside of syndicate paychecks. There are lots of technically-excellent and well-written stories published online who artistically meet or surpass much of the newspaper’s comic section, their creators toiling every day on their work, disacknowledged by artists who see them as little more than t-shirt salesmen. And to apply for NCS membership a young cartoonist must approach these same artists- men who have already deemed them unprofessional not by measure of their technical merit but rather through what means they earn their bread- a letter of recommendation vouching for their work as a step in joining the NCS.

The system and standards in place are not broken, but rather the men and mentality operating it are the source of conflict among artists and ultimately will serve to hurt the NCS in the long run. That a well-established cartoonist can openly invite any of a relatively young breed of cartoonist to apply for NCS membership, meeting the set standards of a) earning a primary income from their work for at least three years producing b) high quality work with c) a good reputation, who can provide d) money and art samples in addition to e) two letters of recommendation from NCS members, and then fail to name one single working artist online for whose work he would vouch in writing in support of an NCS membership is a rather clear sign that said established cartoonist is either ignorant to what sort of work with what sort of standards is actually being published online, or he is aware but simply unwilling to acknowledge the legitimacy of these works through whatever personal bias.

Cartoonists who meet the NCS’s standards posted here: http://www.reuben.org/join.html do exist on the internet in numbers far stronger than the organization’s members are openly giving them credit with no need to “step up their game” to become “more professional”. And the inclusion of such artists in an organization like the NCS would benefit the growing new breed of self-published artists gain awareness and legitimacy among their peer penslingers as well as benefit the NCS with a much-needed infusion of new blood in these changing times. But the public opinion of many NCS members serves to either bar new talent from entry by failure to recommend or dissuades them from being bothered to try at all. Again, it isn’t the standards that need to change, it is the willingness of the organization’s members to accept alternate syndication methods as legitimate if we’re to see Mr. Knight’s dream of cartoonists of all stripes drink side-by-side in the same bar, judged not by measures unrelated to the quality of their work.

#133 Michael Fry
June/11/2009
@ 5:14 pm

I’ve been sucked into the vortex.

There’s at least 30-40 web cartoonists that make their living primarily from their creations online. That’s more than enough for a category award.

Lowering standards? In my opinion that’s backwards. There is excellent, amazing work online. From Penney Arcade (and even PvP), to XKCD to Perry Bible Fellowship. The NCS should consider themselves lucky to have these creators as members.

Just as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences can honor work as diverse as Titantic to No Country for Old Men, the NCS should be inclusive of everything from Marmaduke to PBF.

I just don’t understand how narrowly defining “professional cartoonist” the way the NCS appears to be doing, in any way protects, emboldens and furthers the art of cartooning.

#134 Dave Stephens
June/11/2009
@ 6:04 pm

Any concept of “web comics vs. print comics” is a FICTITIOUS distinction – comics is comics is comics, some are great, most are not, whether online, printed, etc. There is no “VS”, but there is a distinction, much like the other categories of cartoons.

Between Professional and Amateur – that is FORMALIZED, defined generally as: do you make an income from your artwork? Then, by definition, you are a PRO. How much of a pro? Doesn’t matter, actually – money coming in = professional status. This definition is general, of course.

However, the bylaws of the NCS state that you must make the MAJORITY of your income from comics (Wiley, correct me if I’m wrong here) before you can be considered, by their definition, to be a Pro.

So how many would fit that definition who are cartoonists today?
I assume MOST cartoonists who fit the NCS definition are NOT members. And that is true for web or print or whatever. And most folks who draw cartoons are NOT pros (NCS definition), anyways, web, print or whatever…

Seems exclusive to me – you need to be a pro, or no-go. The NCS has defined what a pro is. Most cartoonist do NOT qualify. Which is a good thing, really. Standards are a good thing.

Nevertheless, a separate Web designation is overdue. The web is different than print. And there needs to be at least a basic distinction between gag and continuity strips and political, too, I suppose.

And that”s my 2 cents plus a nickel on some of what Keith brought up – I am a non-member who makes the majority of his income from drawing cartoons…

And Corey, lookie, I spelled ‘whether’ correctly this time! Hurray! ;)

(wether is the wrong word – it means “Castrated Ram”. Go figure.)

#135 Ted Rall
June/11/2009
@ 6:32 pm

I can understand why cartoonists who are pros in every respect other than earning most of their income via cartooning would feel offended at not qualifying under NCS admission rules. Professionalism is like porn–you know it when you see it. And of course many well-paid pro cartoonists do really crappy work.

On the other hand, if a group isn’t interested in having you as a member, why would you want to join?

And then on the third hand (I’m an alien), it’s easier to join an existing organization and/or ask it to modernize than to start a new one from scratch.

I’ve long wondered why NCS doesn’t seem interested in becoming more than an annual drinking society for wealthy cartoonists. But it seems to me that the loss is really theirs, not the cartoonists they’re excluding. They’re like newspapers 20 years ago. They’re going to turn around someday soon and wonder why they’re going under. And it’s going to be because they decided, over and over, to reject the future and wallow in irrelevance.

Which is, of course, their choice.

I did have a good time at the NCS gatherings I’ve attended. Nice people, fun all around. But that’s not going to be enough for long.

#136 Wiley Miller
June/11/2009
@ 6:42 pm

“Thereâ??s at least 30-40 web cartoonists that make their living primarily from their creations online. Thatâ??s more than enough for a category award.”

Then they should apply for membership. If none of them can be bothered to apply, then why should the NCS be bothered to create an award for them?

#137 Michael Fry
June/11/2009
@ 7:42 pm

“Then they should apply for membership. If none of them can be bothered to apply, then why should the NCS be bothered to create an award for them?”

Because you simply need them to survive as a relevant organization that represents all professional cartoonists and all forms of cartooning.

Clearly you and others don’t think that’s the case. That fiasco of a “future of cartooning” panel discussion in LA showed just how much the NCS doesn’t think it’s the case. It was like being at a web conference circa 1996.

Look, the NCS has cache. This discussion wouldn’t be as heated if it didn’t. Most of the web guys and gals, despite their protestations, would be tickled pink to rub shoulders with some of their heroes.

I was like they were in my callow youth. I thought the NCS was a joke. Until I went to my first convention in ’96 and Cathy Guisewite made a bee-line for me across the Waldor-Astoria ballroom to tell me how much she loved and appreciated my panel, “Committed.” I was floored. I was not then, nor am I now a big “Cathy” fan, but I’m now a HUGE Cathy Guisewite fan. Such a kind and generous thing for her to do. And that evening was full of kind, heartfelt cartoonists saying nice things about my work.

I suspect that kind of scene could happen in the future between print and web cartoonist. But someone has to do what Cathy did and reach across the aisle show her appreciation. It’s easier to reach up if someone is reaching down to help you.

If you give an award, they will come.

#138 David Reddick
June/11/2009
@ 8:08 pm

I just love how the insufferable know-it-all Wiley indicates bringing in web-exclusive cartoonists as lowering an organizations standards. it comes off like this, Wiley: “If the snot-nosed little webturds wanna be part of our big, bad club so bad, then why don’t they apply?” (As he rubs his elbows in some other kid’s ribs next to him, giggling and saying “yeah, right, HAHA!” rubbing the snot from his nose onto his sleeve.)

I actually resemble Michael’s remark, personally… I would love to join the NCS, and I actually make 100% of my income from both print and web, but I do so much webcomics work for my OWN personal work (and not for small clients) outside my dayjob, which again, is print comics, that it’s terribly disappointing that there isn’t a webcomics category (I actually have made the assumption that webcomics aren’t considered worthy there), and I admit I’ve refrained from applying because of that, even though I have many friends in the NCS, and many I am sure who’d sponsor me. Stupid as it probably sounds to everyone here, I’m admitting it. (sulks off, head down, hands in pockets, kicking empty can of beans down dirt road). Just my 2 cents.

#139 David Reddick
June/11/2009
@ 8:15 pm

Howard Taylor
Dave Kellet
Kris Straub
Mike & Gabe
Scott Kurtz
Brad Guigar
Meredith Gran
Randy Millholland
…and many more.

These are only 8 of a solid 30-40 cartoonists who are earning their living on their comics and cartoons and would be wonderful additions to the NCS.

#140 David Reddick
June/11/2009
@ 8:21 pm

So, Wiley, I assume Matt Groening and other feature animation folks beat down the doors to the NCS to become members? I don’t think so. (responding to your comment that is webcartoonists can’t be bothered to apply, then why create a category for them).

#141 Darrin Bell
June/11/2009
@ 8:41 pm

I don’t think the awards are the central issue. First of all, you (that “you” is aimed in the Web’s general direction) don’t have to be a member to win an award, so it’s not necessarily going to get you to join. Secondly, the awards aren’t the main point of the Reubens. Most cartoonists will never win one anyway, for whatever reason. It would be great to win one, but for most, it’s never going to happen. The main point is to hang out with your peers on a tax deductible vacation.

That said, I believe the Web is already a viable medium; and there are ways (both technical and through the word of respected NCS members who know them) for online-only cartoonists to prove they’re professionals and they’re not just vanity publishing their work. I’d like to see the NCS create an award for comics that are first published online (I say “first” because many of them are later collected in book form or in comic books).

But Wiley’s got a point. It’d be great if change just happened, but that’s not how anything ever works. If you want an institution to change, you’ve got to try to be a part of it FIRST. The topic of webcomics came up at this year’s Reubens, and as eloquently put as it was it was met with little more than silence (and not just because a lot of us were too distracted by JJ Abrams to notice the plea). I’m sure that’s because there were no (or almost no) webcartoonists in attendance. Compile *evidence* you’re a pro, GET A RESPECTED NCS MEMBER TO VOUCH FOR YOU, and apply. Only then will there be someone to say “I second that” at the next Reubens when a member suggests recognition for webcomics (because that person would be you).

I’m sure it would be a lot easier for existing members to recognize the value of webcomics if they saw living, breathing, profusely sweating examples of webcartoonists sitting next to them in the business meeting and getting drunk with them at the bar. It’s just like equal rights for gay people. Most Americans don’t see the point until they realize they actually know real live gay people; and only then does the point become self evident.

And you can’t give up or take it personally the first time you’re rejected for membership, either. It doesn’t mean they have no respect for you and your medium of choice; All it MIGHT mean is they don’t know who you are, and you need to get someone they DO know to vouch for you. Plenty of “print cartoonists” are rejected as well, for the same reason. I tell you that from first-hand experience.

#142 Wiley Miller
June/11/2009
@ 9:28 pm

Why are you people directing your comments, questions and ire toward me regarding the NCS? I already told you that I don’t speak for them. I’m not even currently a member, and when I was, I wasn’t on the board or had anything to do with how it was run. Please direct those comments and questions to Rick Stromoski or Steve McGarry, who are past presidents of the NCS and have far more knowledge of membership requirements and the awards than I do.

If a cartoonist making his living on the web wants to be a member of the NCS, I don’t see why they don’t apply. I honestly don’t see what the problem is here, much less the anger and histrionics.

#143 Jason Nocera
June/11/2009
@ 9:35 pm

@138: Are you kidding, David? You didn’t really get that impression from Wiley’s remarks, did you? Wiley and Darren are making a valid suggestion. Why not the 30 or 40 or how many of you web cartoonists join the NCS and make changes from within? Please – for the sake of all of us – so we don’t have to read such asinine conversations.

#144 Ted Dawson
June/11/2009
@ 9:45 pm

There are many reasons why the graphic novel and comic book mediums are flourishing while newspaper comics are not. Perhaps Keith caught a glimpse of one of those reasons.

#145 Phil Wohlrab
June/11/2009
@ 10:59 pm

I do cartoon product illustrations as a full time job and there is no ceremony or award for that. (is there?) Anyway, I don’t need to belong to a cartoonist club for validation.
You web guys feel slighted because print guys don’t view your medium as a real viable source of income( is that it?)
Let me make you feel better… I don’t view print comics as a viable source of income EITHER!

I wouldn’t make near half my salary as a print/web cartoonist just starting out in today’s world.
… now a graphic novel artist.. That could be where it’s at.. At least that’s what I’ve turned my resources towards. That and flash animation.

#146 David Reddick
June/11/2009
@ 11:06 pm

No Jason, I’m not kidding. How do you NOT see it in Wiley’s tone? Are YOU kidding ME? Asinine? Hmph. But I digress…

I have heard directly from webcomic people who have had respected NCS members sponsoring them who got denied NCS membership despite meeting the requirements.

The issue isn’t a lack of application, it’s a lack of acceptance from the NCS and recognition of our accomplishments. That’s the truth of it.

And Darrin, your explaination was thoughtful and educated as always, one of the best responses I’ve seen.

Jason, I leave you with this quote from Wiley’s last post: “Rather than demanding that the NCS lower itâ??s standards in accepting new members, perhaps those making the demands would be better served to step up their game to meet the requirements of being a professional cartoonist…”

Um, I don’t think any webcartoonist out here making 6 figures (since financial gain seems ot be the “qualification”) is asking the NCS to “lower its standards” to accept them in. and frankly, the whole lot of webcartoonists out here making zilch, yet turning out professional, and unique and individual work. Look at Eldon Cowgur at http://www.astray3.com as an example. Having an editor at a syndicate does not a good cartoonist make. Nor does an NCS membership.

#147 Chris Crosby
June/11/2009
@ 11:32 pm

Would two NCS members please write me glowing letters of recommendation? I’ll join any club that would have me as a member.

#148 Rick Stromoski
June/12/2009
@ 6:15 am

As reluctant as I am to contribute to the Web vs. Print aspect of this debate, as a prior Membership Chairman for the NCS, I’ll list for those who are interested in order of importance the criteria for admission in the sincere hope of clearing up some misconceptions.

1. Applicants have to be a professional cartoonist making the majority of their income from cartooning for a minimum of the last 3 years.

This is the primary condition.

It matters not how you make your income, whether it’s in print or web, if you don’t make the majority of your income from cartooning for at least the past 3 years you don’t qualify.

Contrary to what has been said several times in this and other threads, the NCS does NOT discriminate based on the media of the artist’s choice. I don’t know how clearer I could make that point. If you are a web cartoonist and meet that criteria you’re in as long as your rep is good.

2. The reputation of the applicant must be good.

If an applicant has a history of plagiarism, unethical behavior, aggression or stalking towards others in the industry then they’ll probably not be admitted.

3. The quality of the applicants work must meet the highest of professional standards.

This is probably the least important of the three since it is so subjective. As Membership chairman, I almost would never exclude a candidate on this basis.

The requirement to have 2 letters of reccomendations from established NCS members is not as high on the list as you’d think. It’s primarily in place for artists whose work may not be as well known to the industry and know someone who can vouch for their character. Allowances are made for applicants that meet all the previous criteria but may have difficulty getting 2 letters since they may not know any NCS members personally.

One other point…if you are either a print or web cartoonist, don’t assume that everyone will know your work. When applying you have to make the best possible case for yourself much like you would on a resume. Include high quality samples, describe your experience in as much detail as possible and make the case for your business model illustrating how you are a pro and should be included in the organization. These applications sail through the process.

I’ve rejected applicants who could barely complete the application, sent little or no samples showing no history of who they are or what they’ve done and were outraged because they were rejected and proceeded to go on bulletin boards trashing and cursing out the NCS. I know it’s not a pleasant experience to be rejected by an organization one applies to, but it really goes a long way when you state your case in the best possible manner.

I’ve also been in the uneviable position of having to reject newly syndicated cartoonists with no prior cartooning resume to speak of. They did not meet the 3 year requirement. Most understood but I got major flack since some felt that syndication guaranteed admission. My position was that syndication shouldn’t get you special dispensation over any other applicant …you still have to meet the criteria.

I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions regarding admission to NCS that have been expressed in this thread regarding a deliberate exclusion of web based cartoonists. It just isn’t so.

#149 John Read
June/12/2009
@ 6:33 am

David Reddick: “I just love how the insufferable know-it-all Wiley indicates bringing in web-exclusive cartoonists as lowering an organizations standards.” AND “I would love to join the NCS, and I actually make 100% of my income from both print and web, but I do so much webcomics work for my OWN personal work…that itâ??s terribly disappointing that there isnâ??t a webcomics category (I actually have made the assumption that webcomics arenâ??t considered worthy there), and I admit Iâ??ve refrained from applying because of that, even though I have many friends in the NCS, and many I am sure whoâ??d sponsor me. Stupid as it probably sounds to everyone here, Iâ??m admitting it.”
David, it DOES sound stupid (or asinine) to blame Wiley for your not joining the NCS because you believe webcomics are considered unworthy since the NCS don’t (yet!) have a webcomics award. And re-read all of Wiley’s posts above; I don’t think he’s saying that including web cartoonists will lower the organization’s standards, but that the organization should not lower it’s standards (the “professional” requirement) just to add more members.
David, get one of your many friends to sponsor your membership application (IF you really WANT to be a member of a group you think doesn’t consider your work worthy) and help bring change from within!

#150 John Read
June/12/2009
@ 6:39 am

Seriously, David (because I think your work rocks and IS more than worthy, whatever the hell that means) you SHOULD be a member…if you want to be in the club. There are a lot of guys and gals involved who wouldn’t make you feel like you don’t ‘belong!”

#151 Jason Nocera
June/12/2009
@ 6:49 am

@144: David – Now you’re switching the argument. Before you were saying no web cartoonists applied because there was no special award for them so they (like you) assumed the NCS frowned upon them. Now you are saying that web cartoonists did apply but were rejected despite meeting the requirements. That’s a big accusation and I trust you’ll back it up. I just don’t understand why that wasn’t the argument to begin with?

So why don’t you join and see what happens. Then, when you’re a member you can help other worthy web cartoonists join.

#152 Wiley Miller
June/12/2009
@ 7:19 am

“Know-it-all”? No. But have worked as a professional cartoonist longer than some you have been alive, since the early 70’s, and I know my profession. So when I see misconceptions posted, I have this terrible tendency to correct it with facts. I’m sorry if some of you find this passing of knowledge “insufferable” rather than useful.

And one piece of misconception I had was that cartoonists making their living on the web haven’t applied for membership to the NCS. I am now duly corrected in that misconception on my part. I think anyone who is working as a professional in any medium of cartooning should be eligible for membership to the NCS. And the more there are, the greater likelihood there would be, I’d think, for a new award in that category of the profession.

And, as John pointed out, when I said, “lowering their standards”, I was referring to the standards of what constitutes one as a professional, not web cartoons. Every organization has their standards for membership, and should adhere to them. Otherwise, what’s the point? So if some have met the professional standards for membership and have still been turned down, there must be other reasons regarding the individual’s application. Don’t take your anger about that on me just because I point it out. Direct toward those who have something to do with it.

#153 Patric Lewandowski
June/12/2009
@ 8:03 am

question: i know that once upon a time, one had to be sponsored for membership in the NCS by existing members. is that still true?

#154 Wiley Miller
June/12/2009
@ 8:24 am

Here’s where to get the info on joining the NCS:
http://www.reuben.org/join.html

#155 Patric Lewandowski
June/12/2009
@ 8:36 am

so then someone would have to have 2 people recommend them.

it also says a unanimous vote of the membership committee, but it doesn’t say how many people are on said committee. it also really doesn’t define “professional.”

i think maybe, and this is just my thought, if things were a bit better defined, a lot of the complaints/controversy would lessen.

#156 Rick Stromoski
June/12/2009
@ 9:10 am

>>>>t also says a unanimous vote of the membership committee, but it doesnâ??t say how many people are on said committee. it also really doesnâ??t define â??professional.â?

Why would the number of people on the Membership Committee hold any relevence?

It does define professional. The very first sentence on the Reuben.org site and Point #1 in my post#148 states

1. Applicants have to be a professional cartoonist making the majority of their income from cartooning for a minimum of the last 3 years.

>>>>>i think maybe, and this is just my thought, if things were a bit better defined, a lot of the complaints/controversy would lessen.

If you read my post #148 above I don’t know how anyone can make it any clearer.

#157 Phil Wohlrab
June/12/2009
@ 10:04 am

I’m a SCBWI member. It’s actually pretty cool. I can attend the conventions and i happened to crash their staff party last year. I ate my fill of sushi before i realized i wasn’t supposed to be there. if the bar for the NCS is too high just join that. They have a convention in Summer that’s in LA and one in NJ in the winter.

#158 Phil Wohlrab
June/12/2009
@ 10:08 am

opps i mean NY.. it was at the Grand hyatt

#159 Patric Lewandowski
June/12/2009
@ 10:20 am

honestly, what need is an INTERnational Cartoonist Society. I mean, really, just one nation? ;-)

#160 David Reddick
June/12/2009
@ 10:34 am

Rick, Thank you for the info you presented here. It’s very informative, and I appreciate your time and effort to present it for all of us to see, with your informed notations. I can see that I’m not entirely accurate in my opinions stated, and I will be the first to admit it, although I stand by many of my viewpoints to a degree.
John, Thank YOU as well, for the very level-headed viewpoints as well. The truth is, yes, I’d love to be part of any club full of like-minded folks who all share the ups and downs, celebratory and hard-earned chops in our chosen field (or did it choose us?) as well as those who KNOW the pitfalls and hardships and sacrifices to this artform. It’s not so much wanting to be part of the “NCS” as a title, but to share a drink and a story and a playing field with your “own kind.”
Jason, thanks, bud, but I’d rather not drudge others names into this, and frankly, I think I spazzed out enough already, and time to see it for what it is, call it, and chill myself out. I do feel these ways, but, Rick’s laying out information here (and I know Wiley offered the link for us to see the NCS rules as well), was very helpful and informative and educational.
If I sound like I’m back-tracking, I’m not. But I suppose one must know when one isn’t entirely right (but also right in many ways, and room for improvement), and recognize when I can make a choice to be part of a solution or part of the problem. I’d like to be part of the solution.
And honestly, Wiley, it’s the condescending and oft-berating attitude that I think gets under my skin, more than the actual subject at hand. But, you do present valid, experienced points, even if they are skewed by what seems at times to be a narrow vision and viewpoint.
Okay, back to the point. Where’d Keith go?

#161 Corey Pandolph
June/12/2009
@ 10:42 am

I’m officially a little frightened of all of you.

#162 David Reddick
June/12/2009
@ 10:44 am

Be afraid, Corey, be very afraid. We’re coming for you… btw – LOVE the “Escape from Barkeater Lake” book. Read it. Loved it. Ate it.

#163 Wiley Miller
June/12/2009
@ 10:51 am

“And honestly, Wiley, itâ??s the condescending and oft-berating attitude that I think gets under my skin, more than the actual subject at hand.”

This may be due to my tendency to try to get right to the point, as I don’t have time to mince words. It’s also my nature as a cartoonist. There was no condescendence intended in any of my posts, merely trying to correct misconceptions as quickly and efficiently as possible. I honestly just want you to read my actual words and not read anything more into them, as there isn’t anything else. We can disagree without being disagreeable. It just takes sticking to the subject at hand and deal only with the issues, not make it personal. That’s how we can maintain civil discourse here and not give Alan any more headaches than he already has.

#164 Mike Lester
June/12/2009
@ 10:56 am

Reddick: Is english your primary tongue? Or are you using some translation software? How many times does a Wiley (ageless wonder) or a past NCS PRES. (Rick I’ve got better things to do than help young cartoonists but I do it anyway Stromoski) have to “repeat themselves and say the same thing twice?” ((Yogi Berra). We’re old guys just trying to help (Rall not that old yet) but if you think we walked out of Blick ARt supply into NCS you’re daft. Newsflash: Contrary to what you may have been taught, not everybody get’s a trophy and all soccer games don’t end in ties.

Web cartoons and anime aren’t my taste but an organization like NCS isn’t stupid nor suicidal. It’s a simple system of meritocracy. Unlike Congress, the Presidency or the Supreme Court.

#165 David Reddick
June/12/2009
@ 11:07 am

Hey Mike, try not to break a hip typing all them thar right-winger words to us backwards tipes who am naught thart dumm.

#166 Mike Lester
June/12/2009
@ 11:22 am

Stereotypical bigotry isn’t real big w/ the NCS either. Try Willow Palin rape jokes instead.

#167 Corey Pandolph
June/12/2009
@ 11:28 am

… And once again, I am overwhelmed with pride to call myself a cartoonist.

Maybe we should die out. I doubt there would be this kind of petty arguing when we’re all mixing paint at Home Depot.

Well, maybe at the Christmas party… When Keith Knight crashes it.

Jesus, you guys. Really.

#168 Wiley Miller
June/12/2009
@ 11:30 am

All that really matters is that the Red Sox beat the Yankees… again.

#169 Corey Pandolph
June/12/2009
@ 11:34 am

I need a generic internet stamp that says “Suck it, Wiley” for these discussions.

#170 Steve McGarry
June/12/2009
@ 12:09 pm

Wiley and Rick have actually done a pretty good job of laying out basic NCS procedures and requirements, but there are obviously still many misconceptions out there.

Wiley hasn’t held NCS office so, as he says, can’t speak for the NCS. But Rick and I have both served on the NCS board of directors, and he followed me as NCS President, so we can speak with a degree of authority and hopefully, offer a little insight into the membership process.

Contrary to what some would have you believe, the NCS is delighted to welcome new cartoonists into the fold … but the membership bar is set very high.

A candidate needs to make the majority of their income from cartooning, must have been working as a full time professional for three years, their work must be of a professional standard and their reputation must be good. They need to apply in writing and must produce two letters of recommendation from NCS members in good standing.

I’ll be happy to break that down, to clear up further common misconceptions:

Let me first say that although the committee is instructed to consider all these requirements, they are granted a certain amount of leeway, and are encouraged to use common sense and discretion when weighing an application. But the main points they consider are:

a) Majority of income: Pedants will argue that this means a candidate needs to make 51% of their income from cartooning, but that is too narrow an interpretation. Otherwise a candidate making $20 a week from their paper round and $25 a week for a cartoon in the church newsletter would be eligible. So the committee is instructed to look at whether the candidate is primarily a full time cartoonist. In the midst of the glib digs at the NCS that Ted Rall made earlier, he opined that there were “cartoonists who are pros in every respect other than earning most of their income via cartooning.” Well, if you actually make your living as a dentist, I think that kind of means you are a professional dentist who does a little cartooning on the side. But no matter …

One of the reasons we set this bar so high here is that we feel it would be unreasonable to give full votes, in an organization of professionals, to people who do not work full time as professional cartoonists. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to us.

b) Three years. A number of newly syndicated cartoonists will testify that they were initially turned down, much to their surprise and chagrin. Unfortunately, most features fail within a year or two of launch, and the creator is forced to go back to the day job. If we accepted every syndicated creator on launch then our ranks would be filled with people who do not actually do any professional cartooning whatsoever. Sad, but thats the nature of our profession. If a feature hits the three-year mark, then its reasonable to assume that the creator will have a sustainable career. Sometimes, however, if a launch has been particularly successful and it is obvious that the creator is going to be able to continue the feature, the three-year rule will be relaxed, providing the other criteria are met.

On a broader scale, outside of syndication, if the applicant can demonstrate that they have been able to sustain a career over three years, it’s a pretty good indicator that they are not just one-trick ponies. If you survive three years in our profession, it’s a reasonable assumption that you have worked with multiple clients.

Once again, this requirement is partly to ensure that we don’t give full votes to non-professionals, but also reflects economic realities. When members struggle to earn a living as cartoonists, or drop out of the profession completely, they struggle or fail to pay dues. Every cartoonist in arrears costs the NCS money. For the year they are in arrears, before they are dropped from the rolls, they cost the society money. They continue to get the newsletter, they continue to get the mailings, they may well attend NCS chapter events … and may well vote on matters of importance, such as elections and awards, which is just inherently unfair. The three “dunning” letters have to be mailed out, at further cost. Its a drain on our resources. its a drain on the time of our management company, and creates more work for our unpaid volunteers.

c) Professional standard and good reputation: If we barred cartoonists who can’t draw then ………. (fill in the name of your own object of ridicule here) … would never have won the … (add the accolade that he or she patently didn’t deserve) …

If most applicants can pass muster at points a) and b) then its probably safe to assume that the work probably meets a reasonable standard of professionalism. For many years now, this has been interpreted more as mechanism to weed out, for example, a serial plagiarist. The reputation aspect is important. If you are a violent drunk, you probably won’t pass muster (although lovable drunks are actively encouraged.) If you have spent the last few years publicly denigrating and insulting your peers … and I don’t mean tit-for-tatting on message boards, I mean launching unprovoked attacks on fellow cartoonists … you may well find your application coming under extra scrutiny. And mumbling that Wiley started it or that Stromoski was grumpy and mean to you will probably not cut much ice.

The NCS is not a guild or a union, it is a society where professional cartoonists can commune and congregate, try to further the ideals and standards of the profession, assist and promote the various cartoon museums, libraries and exhibitions, assist those in need and generally try to do good works in the name of the profession. In the founding bylaws, we outline our purposes, one of which is to “promote and foster good fellowship and solidarity among professional cartoonists.”

So simply put, if someone has regularly called the bride a fat cow, sneered at the wedding arrangements, belittled the groom and called the bridesmaids ugly slags, you will probably think twice before you invite them to the wedding.

d) Apply in writing: We don’t accept applications by email because otherwise the Membership chair, who is after all, an unpaid volunteer, would spend all day answering the same questions over and over again, and never get any paying work done. It’s also to ensure that the candidate presents a full and complete application. The onus is on the candidate to prepare an application that addresses the full requirements, rather than forcing the committee to google and surf and research the candidate.

e) Two letters of recommendation: We require two letters of PERSONAL recommendation from NCS members in good standing (so no good asking the lapsed Michael Fry, he can’t help you.) The NCS members must vouch that they are familiar with your work, that in their opinion it meets the required standard, and that they can vouch for your character and reputation.

In the end, the membership committee will review the application and then vote. Acceptance requires a unanimous vote of the Membership committee.

Membership chair is the most thankless task in the NCS, and the chair of the committee is regularly insulted and impugned by failed candidates. Frequently, an outraged candidate whose application has been rejected, will take to the message boards and hurl abuse. Its a miserable job, and for that reason, as well,as to prevent lobbying, we do not publish the names of the membership committee.

So, thats it. On a broader note, you don’t need to be syndicated to join the NCS. In fact, as a cursory glance at our roster â?? which is published online at http://www.reuben.org â?? will testify, the vast majority of NCS members do not work in newspaper syndication.

We have an associate member category, but they cannot vote, and this category is restricted to the likes of cartoon library directors, syndicate heads, writers on syndicated features, etc. Artists are not admitted to this category, which is strictly limited to a small percentage of the overall membership.

We don’t have a junior category, or a mechanism to allow artists to join in limbo, but all cartoonists are encouraged to seek out the local NCS chapter and make contact, network and generally get a feel for the society.

There are no machiavellian plots by sour old gatekeepers to exclude any cartoonists, webcentric or not. No grandees in darkened rooms, colluding to deny the “saviors of our profession” their rightful place at our table. The current NCS President is Jeff Keane, the outgoing Membership Chair was Dave Coverly and the new membership chair is Sean Parkes (who is probably younger than most of the web’s young turks, has never worked in syndication and is a foreigner!) These are three of the nicest, warmest, friendliest people you would ever wish to meet, and are very approachable … as are most professional cartoonists. Particularly if you have figured out a way to make money in a medium that we haven’t!

No doubt this post will be dissected by sundry aging bad boys, malcontents and sceptics, but it is posted with the best intentions and meant as a genuine gesture of goodwill.

Cheers,
Steve

#171 J Read
June/12/2009
@ 12:30 pm

Now THAT should put an end to ANY misconceptions about what the NCS is! Well said…and graciously put, Mr. Former President.

#172 J Read
June/12/2009
@ 12:34 pm

I know you’re one of them Englishmen, but I swear if you don’t come across as a Southern Gentleman.

#173 Steve McGarry
June/12/2009
@ 1:23 pm

No, no … once a barbarian, always a barbarian, I’m afraid.

But I do think its important to dispel all the nonsense that is talked about the NCS, because it may well be a deterrent to people who should be encouraged to join our ranks.

And although we may well provide an excuse for carousing, and of course our ranks are peopled with those who love the art of cartooning, the truth is that we are an organization of professionals, who make their living in the business of cartooning … with emphasis on “business.” In that respect, we are no different from many other organizations of professionals, in any walk of life.

#174 Stacy Curtis
June/12/2009
@ 3:01 pm

It all seems reasonable, except the secret Membership Committee. There are many who hold grudges and it only takes one person on that committee with a grudge to hold someone out of the NCS.

Nice explanation, Steve. Well done, for a barbarian!

#175 David Reddick
June/12/2009
@ 3:05 pm

Steve, you nailed it. Thank you.
And you, sir, are the epitome of shameless gentlemanly patience and scholarship.

#176 David Reddick
June/12/2009
@ 3:06 pm

btw, John – reading Stay Tooned issue 1 again. Keep the great work up there.

#177 Mike Lester
June/12/2009
@ 4:16 pm

And you, sir, are the epitome of shameless gentlemanly patience and scholarship. -Mr. Reddick

“forbearance is the hallmark of your creed” -Mary Poppins

#178 spudart
June/12/2009
@ 5:03 pm

I’ve skimmed through all 177 comments here (wow). I have two questions.

1) Does the NCS only give awards to NCS members?

2) Is it really that hard to make a webcomic category for awards? It’s a growing viable medium. Give a webcomic artist an award. Even if he’s not a member. Doesn’t seem too hard to me.

Everyone’s happy. :-)

#179 Darrin Bell
June/12/2009
@ 5:53 pm

Spudart, if you read the thread (skimming never works, I found that out the hard way in college) you’ll find that both your questions were answered in depth over and over and over again.

#180 Chris Crosby
June/12/2009
@ 8:06 pm

I haven’t received my two glowing letters of recommendation yet.

I think the NCS must hate webcomics!

#181 Shane Davis
June/13/2009
@ 1:43 am

Does the NCS give awards to folks who doodle on napkins at lunch? There is a catagory, right? Do I need 2 letters from my waiter? Do I mail in a copy of the napkin or the original?
Thanks!

#182 Chris Crosby
June/13/2009
@ 1:51 am

Ha, they still make napkins? Napkins are only for old people. Enjoy your napkins while they last, you elderly dinosaurs!

#183 Benjamin Williams
June/13/2009
@ 2:26 am

Being a fan of Keith Knight work and as well as being a cartoonist myself, I like to point out that I don’t think the Keith meant to be offensive.

Creativity takes over and a Cartoonist goes with it. Keith
develop the art of taking any situation that he had experienced
and create a cartoon out of it with a twist of humor.

Agree with him or disagree with Keith Knight, there is no
denying his creative brilliant.

When a Star Celebrity is present at an event, their present
alone pays for any food or drink they may consume. Don’t
be petty . . . wise up and don’t take life sooooo serious.

We all on Planet Earth for a short time . . . be more like Keith
Knight and see the humor of it all.

P.S.: I would consider being a pay member of National Cartoonist Society merely because Keith Knight was a
member. (Oop! You guys might conder that statement offensive . . . My bad).
Benjamin Williams/BW Comix

#184 Shane Davis
June/13/2009
@ 2:53 am

“Ha, they still make napkins? Napkins are only for old people. Enjoy your napkins while they last, you elderly dinosaurs!”

Heh, heh…you crazy youngsters with your new fangled ways, wiping your dirty mouth on your sleeves! No wonder you want your own award!

#185 JP Trostle
June/17/2009
@ 8:46 am

So, long thread short: Keith thinks the NCS should be more like the AAEC, and Daryl thinks the AAEC should be more like the NCS … got it.

#186 John S
June/17/2009
@ 12:53 pm

I love the fact that this cartoon pissed soooo many people off. You’d think he was slagging off your mothers the way you all are whinging about it.

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