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Daryl Cagle: AAEC should date, not marry NCS

Among the discussion items at this year’s Association of American Editorial Cartoonists gathering in Seattle this week, is an item from current president Ted Rall who suggests the organization think about merging with the National Cartoonist Society. Daryl Cagle, who is a member of both and former president of the latter offers a few suggestions on how to improve the AAEC.

Donâ??t allow amateur or student members. Show a professional face to the public. Donâ??t post amateurish work on your web site. Dare to edit.

If your association management company fails you, drop them and hire a better one. (The NCS has a better management company.)

Have a shorter convention. Schedule it within a weekend and think about how big a crowd can be attracted by the hotel, city and amenities. Conventions get a bigger turnout in New York than in San Antonio. Negotiate better deals and get multiple bids from competing hotels.

Donâ??t be so serious; this is not a wake. More fun = better attendance.

Have a president and board that serves for more than one year, so they have time to get something done and there isnâ??t constant chaos from turnover.

Make more of an effort to encourage the attendance of top professionals. Consider that the AAEC is competing with other events, like the NCS convention, for the participation of top cartoonists.

Plan around other events or coordinate with other conventions; maybe the NCS, but Iâ??d suggest considering the Social Studies teachers convention â?? editorial cartoonists are rock stars to Social Studies teachers and the AAEC could ride along as an interesting feature of their big, national convention. The AAEC might benefit from an association with an interested university.

Community Comments

#1 Ted Rall
July/1/2009
@ 12:10 pm

As I’ve written elsewhere, I like some of Daryl’s ideas. Others have already been debunked. Taking these at a time:

Donâ??t allow amateur or student members. Show a professional face to the public. Donâ??t post amateurish work on your web site. Dare to edit.

The AAEC’s student and associate members include future stars of the profession and, of course, future regular members. We think they’re extremely valuable and productive contributors to the world of cartooning. If anything, the NCS might find that opening the doors to student and associate members would alleviate ossification.

I agree, however, that the website should present a professional face to the public.

Have a shorter convention. Schedule it within a weekend and think about how big a crowd can be attracted by the hotel, city and amenities. Conventions get a bigger turnout in New York than in San Antonio. Negotiate better deals and get multiple bids from competing hotels.

We already get multiple bids from competing hotels. I mean, really–AAEC board members aren’t idiots!

We’ve tried shorter conventions and found them inadequate to our needs. We have a lot of business to discuss and can barely fit them into the time allocated. As for smaller cities, we’ve found that conventions held in places like San Antonio are more intimate and constructive than those in places like Washington, where people tend to disperse with their families to check out the various tourist attractions. Smaller city confabs result in greater collegiality and cohesiveness, as members cluster around the hotel bar…and the room rates are much cheaper.

Donâ??t be so serious; this is not a wake. More fun = better attendance.

It never hurts to loosen up. But I’ll put any AAECer against any NCS member anytime when it comes to cracking jokes over beer!

Also, guess what? This year’s convention, which begins today in Seattle, will have at least 30% higher attendance than last year’s, has perhaps the most “serious” agenda in years. It seems that editorial cartoonists ravaged by economic dislocation are hungry for serious solutions.

Have a president and board that serves for more than one year, so they have time to get something done and there isnâ??t constant chaos from turnover.

We certainly don’t suffer from chaos. Presidents work with the previous year’s president and the vice president–who ascends to the presidency automatically–to ensure a smooth transition. But this is probably a good idea…as soon as my term ends!

I suspect it’s easier to recruit presidents with a one-year term than two years.

Make more of an effort to encourage the attendance of top professionals. Consider that the AAEC is competing with other events, like the NCS convention, for the participation of top cartoonists.

I totally agree.

Plan around other events or coordinate with other conventions; maybe the NCS, but Iâ??d suggest considering the Social Studies teachers convention â?? editorial cartoonists are rock stars to Social Studies teachers and the AAEC could ride along as an interesting feature of their big, national convention. The AAEC might benefit from an association with an interested university.

It’s kind of funny that Daryl is backtracking from his previous efforts to encourage a merger between the NCS and AAEC, but hey, things change with passing time (albeit for mysterious reasons). But yes, we should definitely look at all options…and we will.

#2 Tom Heintjes
July/2/2009
@ 8:49 am

I’m not a “veteran” NCS member (I’ve been a member since 1996), but I’ve attended enough meetings to have observed a few things: while the meetings held in big cities might attract more people, the ones in smaller cities are actually more fun. (Two of the best ones were the events in Asheville, NC, and Kansas City, Mo.)

Also–my memory might be playing tricks on me–I seem to recall the first Reuben Award banquet I attended (New York) had a keynote speaker who was a dignitary…Giuliani, maybe? It’s kind of hazy now…all the alcohol and stuff. But I would love to see that tradition revived. Does the NCS still attempt to recruit keynote speakers to kick off the banquet? for example, how awesome would it have been to get cartooning fan, cartooning benefactor and celebrity publisher Hugh Hefner to address the group? He’s right there in LA! And maybe he would have brought the Girls Next Door with him…

#3 Rick Stromoski
July/2/2009
@ 1:41 pm

The NCS has approached Hefner to attend/and or sponsor an event for the Reuben weekend in recent years and he has always declined.

As President, I personally wrote him and then Cartoon editor Michelle Urry and they both turned me down.

#4 Clay Jones
July/3/2009
@ 10:30 am

I think both associations should just slut around.

#5 Ted Rall
July/10/2009
@ 11:50 am

The AAEC unanimously voted in Seattle not to approach the NCS about a prospective merger. The feeling of the membership was that AAEC members are free to apply for and join the NCS as individuals and that a merger would lead to a loss of the AAEC’s unique culture and mission.

#6 Ted Dawson
July/10/2009
@ 12:40 pm

Maybe there just needs to be a new cartooning organization.

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