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Best cartoon organizations, clubs, associations etc.

Can any of you tell me some of the best organizations for cartoonists who want to take their cartoons to the next level. (More publicity, more coverage, more distribution, more money) Also included in that, what do they offer / do if you spend money to join. (Like the AAEC, what does the fee get you?)

Community Comments

#1 Ted Rall
March/12/2009
@ 2:25 pm

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists is the nation’s professional organization for political cartoonists, including animators. The AAEC holds an annual convention, where members meet to discuss the profession, trends and challenges, and grouse about editors. This year’s convention, which will be held amid a sense of crisis in journalism, will be held July 1-4 in Seattle.

Members enjoy access to editorialcartoonists.com, the AAEC website, which showcases their work in a keyword-searchable archive and database that facilitates reprint sales. There is a message board, as well as an email listserv for professional cartoonists to discuss the day’s events.

Members also receive the AAEC Notebook, a quarterly print magazine that compiles news and happenings related to political cartooning.

Finally, members of the AAEC can also count on the association to speak on their behalf when it’s appropriate, as the group did recently in the matter of Brian Duffy’s original cartoons.

#2 JP Trostle
March/12/2009
@ 4:39 pm

Let me just add what AAEC members like to say: to paraphrase the old joke, we’re a drinking club with a drawing problem.

It is as much a social club — and support group — as it is a professional organization. As many cartoonists essentially work alone, it offers an excuse to get together. And I’ve heard from any number of people saying they count on the annual convention to help recharge their creativity and enthusiasm for the coming year.

The private listserv, what we call the AAEC-L, or, more popularly, the Whine Line, is a great and quick way to communicate with other cartoonists and, umm, debate the issues facing us (think this board, but no holds barred.)

#3 AAEC Member
March/13/2009
@ 6:33 am

The AAEC

#4 AAEC Member
March/13/2009
@ 6:35 am

The AAEC is an organization who existence is becoming more and more questionable as time goes by. I am going to express some things that may cause objections, but I know I speak for many of my colleagues who have stated the following in private.

More and more members are having reservations about paying dues to an organization that serves no real purpose. More and more members are deciding that participating and attending the convention has no real benefit other than to socialize…or more accurately, hear others complain about the state of the profession.

The AAEC has no real power and is not a union. The open admissions policy allows anyone to enter without regard to the applicant having a real level of talent or professional standards. The only qualification for membership seems to be that their check doen’t bounce. Other professional organizations, like the NCS for example, will not allow you to joint if they feel you work is not up to professional standards.

By comparison, the AAEC will let anyone who says they work for any thing resembling a church newsletter to join. This reflects negatively on the rest of the membership because it lowers the standards and gives the impression to the public that this is what is acceptable as a profession level editorial cartoon.

Having a standard is a good thing. I’d love to play for the NY Yankees but I just cannot walk out ont he field and join the team. I have to try out and and if i am not good enough I will not make the team. The AAEC will let anyone up to bat.

This is probably why Oliphant, Peters, Macnelly, Don Wright, Borgman, Marlette and others never really participated. Ironically it did not seem to hurt their careers. Which begs the question, what to we REALLY get for our money?

#5 Wiley Miller
March/13/2009
@ 6:57 am

“but I know I speak for many of my colleagues who have stated the following in private.”

Then why are you posting this anonymously? You’re only undermining yourself with such cowardice, as well as breaking the rules of this board.

Alan, if people like this can’t follow your simple rules, you should remove their posts until they can act like an adult.

#6 R.C. Harvey
March/13/2009
@ 8:08 am

No organization will help you take your cartoons “to the next level”; you do that. If someone else does it for you, the cartoon is theirs, not yours. C’mon: cartooning may be the only profession where the whole enterprise is a one-man show. Rejoice in it; don’t look around for someone or something to do your work for you.
Organizations like AAEC and NCS exist chiefly as psychological support groups: they prove you are not alone in the various miseries and ecstasies of your work.
To the extent that rubbing shoulders with others engaged in the same endeavor introduces you to new techniques and/or ways to make a living at your craft, organizations like AAEC are professionally as well as psychologically rewarding—hence, seminars and discussion groups on the art of caricature and the like.

#7 Paul Fell
March/13/2009
@ 8:45 am

AAEC Member:

If nothing else, as a member, you get the opportunity to hang out with some of the best cartoonists in the business at our annual convention. Some of my longest-lasting friendships were forged at AAEC conventions. I think since I joined in the late 70s I have missed attending maybe twice. My feeling has always been that if you are going to be a professional then you should belong to professional organizations. The workshops and panels that the AAEC has offered over the years have been a big drawing card for me and others, even to the extent that the NCS began doing the same thing at their Reuben weekend a number of years ago.

Perhaps I should inquire as to how many AAEC conventions YOU have attended since you became a member. Quite often a lot of the bitching one hears about an organization comes from folks who only participate on a minimal level.

As to your criticism of the quality of some members’ work not being at a professional level, I can agree there, but just how great was your stuff when you were accepted for membership? I can look back at what I was cranking out when I first came on board and marvel at the fact that I got accepted for membership when I did. It is interesting to note that a lot of folks always clamor for membership requirements for an organization to be tightened up… but only after THEY are members.

If you feel that the AAEC doesn’t DO anything for that whopping $150 you have top pay for dues each year, perhaps you can spend it elsewhere on an organization that gives you more bang for you buck.

As to those cartoonists you mentioned who weren’t AAEC members, I sure can’t speak for their reasons. Some folks just aren’t joiners, I guess. Oh, and Jeff MacNelly rarely missed an AAEC convention during his lifetime. Perhaps you skipped those times.

#8 Mike Lester
March/13/2009
@ 9:42 am

Let me get this straight: You’re supposedly an AAEC MEMBER who can’t understand that for $150 you’re not in Newsweek yet. You’re an editorial cartoonist who supposedly makes at least a portion of his income bravely voicing opinions yet you post this whine and cheese ANONYMOUSLY? Have I got that right?

I think that might be against the only rule the AAEC has -other than plagiarizing McNelly which is largely ignored.

Wiley, R.C. and Paul have pretty much summed up the benefits of any organization that would have you. Now they’re probably asking themselves why they let you in. You might want to remain anonymous.

No it’s not a union. Unions are antithetical to the individual and the AAEC is nothing if not a collection of individuals who, at the end of the day sign their name to their work. That’s a big deal. No other occupation relies on pride of authorship so much as the professional artist/cartoonist/writer.

The good news: While no organization can lift you to the next level, you can take solace in knowing that the members of the AAEC as taxpayers are probably going to be obligated to pay your mortgage. Cheers.

#9 Stacy Curtis
March/13/2009
@ 10:43 am

I think “AAEC Member” makes some good points that can’t be ignored. That said, you can also see he/she is still an AAEC Member, which says everything.

Every organization has some good and bad sides to it.

#10 Wiley Miller
March/13/2009
@ 10:50 am

Yes, but it would have more credibility if it wasn’t posted anonymously. As it is, it has none. Grow up, “AAEC member” and grow a pair.

#11 Jeff Darcy
March/13/2009
@ 10:55 am

I believe the anniversary edition of the notebook has pictures of MacNelly at AAEC conventions It was before my time but I remember seeing that and thinking it was pretty cool that he was there as just another cartoonist. Although some of the comments about standards are fair and should be considered I think if you were a young cartoonist it would great if you could go to one of these conventions and meet some great pro’s and see what you can pick -up. I know even brief comments and advice that I’ve gotten from seasoned pros, has stuck with me and had an impact.

#12 Clay Jones
March/13/2009
@ 11:54 am

Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to remain a member of the AAEC.
I only saw MacNelly at one convention.
People who are not members of the AAEC are still on the list serve and usually all they do is self promote.

#13 Jeff Parker
March/13/2009
@ 12:16 pm

Nothing — nothing — has done more to make me a better cartoonist than joining the AAEC and NCS.

Especially the AAEC.

The portfolio review at my first convention (Memphis ’91), while brutal, took me to a new level as a cartoonist.

If you’re a beginner, and you want to grow as a professional cartoonist, I highly recommend you join either organization, or both, if you qualify.

As for the AAEC’s “open admissions.” I’ve been an AAEC board member for a couple of years, and the criteria for regular membership has been tightened considerably during my stay. Applicants whose talent isn’t up to par or who aren’t regularly published are encouraged to join the organization as associate members and “apprentice” until their work and professional status meets the standards for regular membership.

#14 Joe Rank
March/13/2009
@ 2:28 pm

I typically apply one of Groucho’s maxims:
“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”.

Quite some time ago, I belonged to the Chamber of Commerce; and then I discovered why it was called a “chamber”.

That being said, I can understand the utility of having these groups, and would not discourage others from participating.
For myself, as a working musician, that activity more than fills my particular need for socialization in a team environment.

Also, the DC provides for a niche of sharing with fellow cartoonists.

#15 Matt Bors
March/13/2009
@ 5:00 pm

“AAEC Member,” you should resign from the organization immediately.

Not because you criticized the AAEC. By all means, feel free. But because you can’t do a simple task that editorial cartoonists–including the hacks you cite–do every day: put their name on what they have to say.

#16 AAEC Member
March/13/2009
@ 5:02 pm

t me get this straight: You?re supposedly an AAEC MEMBER who can?t understand that for $150 you?re not in Newsweek yet?”

Mike- Where in the world did you derive that from? Now you’re beginning to fall into the category of totally misquoting someone like so many of those”liberal” journalist you despise.

I said nothing about Newsweek or made no inference about the AAEC taking me to the next “level” -whatever that means.

The AAEC has some serious policy problems that have over the last decade cause it to erode into an organization who in many respect has become counter productive.

The current AAEC President is doing a very good job but these policies were in place before he ascended to the throne.

Case in point: The disaster that was known as “Black Ink Monday.”
In an attempt to bring attention to the problems we face the AAEC organized this debacle. The problem was (and this is true in general of the AAEC web site as well) is that many of the most anxious, less than professional members excitedly participated and overshadowed the handful whose work is well known and of artistic merit.

The result were editors (my own included) who took a glance at these cartoons and came away saying “no wonder the profession is dying.” (An exact quote from my own editor)

The AAEC should actively control the face of the organization to insure that the highest quality is on display for the public and editors to see. All you have to do is go the AAEC web site on any given day and chances are there is a cartoon posted by someone no one has ever heard of and whose work is embarrassing.

In this current climate the AAEC should become an elitist group.

We cannot continue to let unprofessional who cannot write or draw and who have no real chance or hope of ever being a professional in any capacity continue to be included among those who have real talent.

If you’ve never had a job, never been syndicated, never done any serious freelance work etc… you gotta go.

The current policy that states you must make a majority of you income from cartooning is a joke. It is akin to the “stated income liar loans” that got us into so much trouble with the housing mess.

There is NO WAY these people make ANY money with their work unless they are published in the Association of Blind People annual newsletter.

The AAEC should stop the “come one and all” policy.

It should do way with “associate member” as a classification. It should create an admission board who only allows published professional whose work meets a certain standard to join -period.

Look at the NCS web site and do you see any substandard work on it? They get it, they are discriminating in their admissions and it shows.

Furthermore, t should stop any and all negative rumblings about the current state of the profession. The editors don’t want to work with cry babies and the public is oblivious to it because they love what we do.

It should promote a positive campaign that states how well the public like what we do and how valuable our product is.

Ultimately, we should become an organization whose membership should be something that is of great accomplishment and actually means something. We should stop being the soup kitchen and start being more Beverly Hills.

It’s all about image and the physcology that it creates. Everyone wants to live in Beverly Hills -this includes the image obsessed public and those editor creatures who walk among them.

#17 Matt Bors
March/13/2009
@ 5:27 pm

haha. You must think what you are saying is so sensitive and controversial that you have to say it anonymously. What are you afraid of? Is Ted Rall going to leave a horse head in your bed? Is this wimpiness reflected in your work?

You bring up points that I hear members say all the time. But no one will take you seriously until you sign your name to your mild criticisms.

I challenge you to send this out on the AAEC-L with your name attached to it so these points can be discussed. Surely you will do that since your goal is improving the organization, yes?

#18 AAEC Member
March/13/2009
@ 5:40 pm

Kind of like you did as the “Bad Cartoonist?”

Forget the anonymity diversion and address the points I made.

#19 Matt Bors
March/13/2009
@ 5:44 pm

You are accusing me of being BC anonymously. I love it.

If you are going to make false accusations about me on a board frequented by editors and professional cartoonists in an attempt to smear me, I’d appreciate if you would sign your name to it.

#20 AAEC Member
March/13/2009
@ 5:49 pm

Why won’t you address the comments I made? Why are they any less valid if I choose not to use my own name?

#21 AAEC Member
March/13/2009
@ 5:54 pm

C’mon. EVERYBODY know you are the “bad cartoonist.” You posted things that were direct attacks on people. I simply criticized AAEC policy.

#22 Alan Gardner
March/13/2009
@ 6:20 pm

Let it be known that Matt Bors is not The Bad Cartoonist. Any speculation that Matt is BC is just that – speculation – no matter how many people believe it. I believe it was unfair and unprofessional of AAEC Member to make such an accusation with no evidence to back it up.

AAEC Member has been black listed for not using his first and last name.

#23 AAEC Member
March/13/2009
@ 8:41 pm

Apologies to the Daily Cartoonist for violating the rules.

For the record, depite my stated speculation on BC, I am a fan of Matt Bors work and think his work is on a level (that I stated in my previous post) that the AAEC should aspire to in it’s membership standard.

#24 Ted Rall
March/14/2009
@ 8:13 am

Anyone who read the Bad Cartoonists’ blog (which I miss terribly) and knows Matt could tell they’re not the same, for many reasons.

I second the above comments about anonymity. However, AAEC Member does bring up some valid points.

It is true that membership has been offered too liberally in recent years. This issue rose to the fore with the new website, editorialcartoonists.com?too much amateurish, even apolitical, work began appearing there, making the rest of us look bad. Many of us have been and remain upset about this state of affairs that we inherited, and have decided to tighten things up.

Nothing can be done about previous admission decisions. Beginning with Nick Anderson’s presidency last year and continuing with this year, however, a more rigorous interpretation of the By-Laws has been employed. To become a full member of the association today, one must demonstrate a base level of professionalism and exposure. Applicants who cannot are typically offered Associate Member status until such time as they can. Although no decision-making via committee can ever be perfect, I think the more egregious cases of easy admission have been eliminated.

I’ve also taken steps to stop the self-promotion and posts of certain ex-AAEC members who’ve abused the AAEC-L listserv. Their posts will be blocked.

AAEC Member also laments the powerlessness of the association to represent its members interests in labor-management disputes. There is merit both to Mike Lester’s view that transforming the AAEC into a guild or union would violate our profession’s innate individualism, as well as to AAEC Member’s view that we need to pull together to be stronger. However, the current By-Laws do not permit this.

This is why we will open the floor in Seattle to precisely this discussion. Should the AAEC become a guild or union? As far as I know, this is the first time we’ve ever seriously discussed this topic.

Personally, I think the time to form a cartoonists union?if there ever was such a time?has long passed. This is a buyers’ market. When labor has little power, forming a union is likely to end up increasing unemployment among our members. The time to circle our wagons was decades ago, when there were hundreds of staff cartoonists and some papers were afraid of losing their star artists. But hey, let’s talk about this stuff. Clearly, things are not going well. We need to open ourselves to every possibility. Which is what we’ll do in Seattle.

Finally, I totally agree with AAEC Member’s views about whining about firings and staff job losses. It has been difficult to resist whiny missives after each of a dozen recent firings under my presidency. After all, if I were them I’d feel sad that the AAEC wasn’t decrying the loss of my job.

But AAEC Member is correct. We must accentuate the positive aspects of editorial cartooning. We must be cheerleaders, not whiners. I’ve been doing my best to exude positivity about the future of editorial cartooning?which, actually, hasn’t been that hard because I truly believe our best days are ahead of us…and not far in the future at that.

#25 Daryl Cagle
March/14/2009
@ 12:35 pm

I?ve gone to the AAEC convention for many years and I don?t remember seeing Jeff MacNelly there. I met Jeff at the NCS. There are a whole set of editorial cartoonists who go the NCS that rarely if ever show up at the AAEC ? Gary Brookins, Jeff Koterba, Jim Borgman and Bill Day come to mind.

There are a lot of editorial cartoonists that I would like to meet that never show up at either convention. And there are a lot of editorial cartoonists from around the world that I?d like to meet, and have never had the opportunity.

The purpose of both the NCS and AAEC, for me, is the opportunity to meet my colleagues whose work I respect, and that is where I think the AAEC falls short. I?d like to see the AAEC do a much better job of recruiting professional editorial cartoonists to attend their convention. Last year?s AAEC convention was the most poorly attended that I can remember.

The NCS works basically because there are a batch of star cartoonists, who everyone respects, that can be counted on to attend each convention. We learned that to keep these cartoonists coming, we need to go to nice hotels and we need to keep the amateur cartoonists away. And we make a special effort to invite interesting cartoonists to attend. As an example, I particularly enjoyed meeting Ralph Steadman.

The AAEC would do well to follow the NCS?s example to allow cartoonists from around the world to become members. Some of the foreign cartoonists I syndicate have asked me about how to join the AAEC; I had to tell them that they were not allowed to join. It is crazy to allow student members, but not allow Australian members. Peter Broelman will be at the next NCS convention, not at the AAEC.

I have no interest in the AAEC?s web site, little interest in their seminars or any aspect of the organization besides hanging out with my friends and meeting cartoonists whose work I respect. The AAEC needs more focus on what makes it work, and less distraction from pronouncements, web sites, seminars, amateur/student cartoonists and professional development.

#26 Wiley Miller
March/14/2009
@ 2:11 pm

There’s not one thing in Ted’s or Daryl’s post that I disagree with. This is precisely why I’m confounded about “AAEC member’s” posting anonymously. He, indeed, had valid points (except for his ironic attack on Matt), which he undermined with posting it anonymously.

And I’m old enough to well remember when stars like MacNelly and Peters, etc., attended the AAEC conventions regularly. They stopped coming mainly because they didn’t like being treated like “stars”, where all too many young cartoonists would hang around them like geeky fan-boys. At the NCS, they were (and are) treated as equals, whether they really are or not.

Like all professional organizations in any industry, the NCS and AAEC have their good points and bad points. Overall, the good points far outweigh the bad in BOTH of them.

#27 Ted Rall
March/14/2009
@ 2:53 pm

I don’t know that it matters, but for the record, Jeff MacNelly attended almost every AAEC convention in the years before he died. I know, because AAEC conventions were the only place I saw him…this being because, like many cartoonists, I can’t afford NCS. I also met Jim Borgman at AAEC. Major artists including Mike Luckovich and Mike Peters attended the D.C. confab two years ago.

Indeed, a lot of big names routinely attend AAEC: Tom Toles, Ben Sergent, Joel Pett, Signe Wilkinson, Nick Anderson, Matt Davies and many, many others come to mind. It’s silly for anyone to imply otherwise. AAEC is a great gathering where everyone from the big stars to the up and comers and the mass of solid working cartoonists come together to exchange thoughts and comraderie. It’s seriously the most fun I have all year, every year.

Daryl is entitled to his opinions about the AAEC, and I enjoyed the times I attended the Reuben Weekend and liked meeting the cartoonists there, but I think emulating NCS’ approach would be a step backward for the AAEC. There are several points where NCS falls short: it doesn’t work to advocate or promote cartooning in the public arena, it’s often smug and self-congratulatory, and it’s essentially closed to cartoonists who don’t qualify for the AARP.

First, NCS is too expensive. Cartoonist salaries are shrinking all the time, and this goes double for editorial cartoonists. Yet NCS dues keep going up and up, and Reuben Weekends are always held at lavish, overpriced hotels that few cartoonists can afford?even those earning six-figure salaries. The AAEC works hard to hold down costs in order to accommodate fiscal realities.

Daryl says elitism is good, and proposing keeping “amateur” out. I agree that cartoonists who don’t meet basic standards of competence or distribution shouldn’t be in the AAEC. But, like most editorial cartoonists, I prefer to err on the side of a more democratic approach. After all, it is long-standing tradition?and, I would argue, a duty?for established cartoonists to help and advise young cartoonists trying to get started. When I was a “nobody,” I was treated with respect by giants like Mike Peters and Jeff MacNelly, who wrote me a single-spaced, handwritten letter encouraging me (which remains a treasured keepsake). At one time, a young Mike Peters got the same treatment by Bill Mauldin.

It’s a tough call: democracy lets in the riff raff. And NCS’ approach necessarily leads to a loss of dynamism. Indeed, several NCS members have asked me to encourage “younger cartoonists” (i.e., under 40 years of age!) to join because they felt the Society had become ossified. I tried, but my altie cartoonist friends all said the same thing: NCS’ panels weren’t relevant, the Reubens too expensive. AAEC isn’t perfect, but we do better on that score.

Second, NCS conventions don’t offer panels or speakers on serious topics, whether it be politics, the business of cartooning, the health of newspapers, etc. That may be fine for comic strip artists, but editorial cartoonists need and want serious discussion and the chance to learn survival skills to navigate the choppy waters that define our times.

Third, NCS doesn’t seem interested in editorial cartoonists. Editorial cartoons rarely come up as a topic at the Reubens’ few panels. By my rough count, only 4 out of 52 Reuben Awards have ever gone to editorial cartoonists.

I don’t really know what purpose would be served by opening the AAEC (the second “A” is for “American”) to foreign cartoonists. Foreign cartoonists are always welcome to attend our conventions as guests and indeed often do. But if someone like Daryl) wants to propose that we open membership to foreigners at this year’s business meeting, there’s no reason we can’t talk about it.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for NCS. They have a rich tradition, great members whose work I respect, and their lighthearted approach keeps things light and collegial. If I drew a daily comic strip I would probably have more incentive to join. But to say that AAEC should copy NCS seems wrongheaded to me.

#28 Daryl Cagle
March/14/2009
@ 3:40 pm

AAEC annual dues: $150
NCS Annual Dues: $150

2009 Convention hotel rate: NCS is about $10 more per night. Past hotel rates have been about the same.

AAEC: 5 day convention.
NCS: 3 day convention.
The NCS convention is always less expensive than the AAEC convention because it is shorter. The daily costs are comparable. NCS has more open bars.

AAEC: Amateur and student cartoonists are welcome to join and attend.
NCS: Professionals only.

AAEC 2009: Days of important, serious seminars about issues facing our profession.
NCS 2009: Party at Cathy Guisewite?s house.

#29 Wiley Miller
March/14/2009
@ 3:56 pm

The difference is that the NCS is a fraternal organization that includes all areas of cartooning. This does not make suited to become a proactive guild type of organization.

The AAEC, however, is specific to the one field of editorial cartooning. This makes it ideally suited to evolve into being more of guild, which it should have done many years ago.
Better late than never.

Trying to compare the two is a lose-lose situation. Let’s not go there, as it really is apples and oranges.

#30 Ted Rall
March/14/2009
@ 4:20 pm

Corrections:

AAEC annual dues: $150
NCS Annual Dues: $150″

AAEC: $125 if you paid before 3/15/09

2009 Convention hotel rate: NCS is about $10 more per night. Past hotel rates have been about the same.

I’d say the difference was more like $40/night.

AAEC: 5 day convention.
NCS: 3 day convention.
The NCS convention is always less expensive than the AAEC convention because it is shorter. The daily costs are comparable. NCS has more open bars.

No.
AAEC: 4 nights hotel (Wed night, Thurs, Fri, Sat)
NCS: 4 nights hotel (last year: May 23, 24, 25, 26)

Also, convention registration fee for NCS is much higher than AAEC?about $125 as I recall.

#31 Daryl Cagle
March/14/2009
@ 6:01 pm

I?d suggest staying two nights at the NCS convention, fly in on Friday for the evening cocktail party, and out late Sunday.

Michael Ramirez is giving a seminar at the NCS this year (Michael doesn?t go to the AAEC anymore).

#32 Mike Lester
March/15/2009
@ 6:13 am

“Michael Ramirez is giving a seminar at the NCS this year (Michael doesn?t go to the AAEC anymore).” -(my good friend) Daryl Cagle

O.K. that did it: “MR doesn’t go to your party. He comes to ours AND he sits at our table. OH MY GOD, DID HE JUST LOOK AT ME??? HE LOOKED AT ME!!! DON’T LOOK, HE’S LOOKING AT ME!!!!” Did I just walk in to High School Musical?

Ted, I told you I wasn’t going to AAEC this year but now that this discussion has a Jets and Sharks feel to it (full disclosure: I’m a member of both organizations), see you in Seattle. And Hollywood.

If for no other reason than to give Steve Kelly a run for MOST LIKELY TO BE CUTE LATER IN LIFE.

#33 Dave Stephens
March/15/2009
@ 12:24 pm

Don’t forget the National Caricaturist Network – super low dues and super amazing conventions with top-name guests/speakers, it’s the best bargain for honing your skills in caricature.

http://www.caricature.org/

And the amazing Tom Richmond talks about it here:

http://www.tomrichmond.com/blog/2008/11/11/national-caricaturist-network/

#34 Ted Rall
March/15/2009
@ 12:36 pm

It’ll be great to see you in Seattle, Mike.

First round is on me. Anything to cut costs!

#35 Ted Rall
March/16/2009
@ 6:36 am

I forgot to mention another big cost difference: NCS’ banquet is formal attire, meaning that slobs like me have to rent a tux. Expensive, a hassle, and anachronistic.

#36 Paul Berge
March/16/2009
@ 6:44 am

So, to Mr. Sam Wallace, who started this thread: Are ya still interested?

#37 John Auchter
March/16/2009
@ 8:26 am

When the AAEC convention was in Denver a few years ago, Michael Ramirez very generously bought me some dippin? dots at Coors Field. Sad to hear he won?t be attending future conventions. (In retrospect, I probably shouldn?t have begged him for ice cream the entire cab ride over to the ballpark. My bad. But you know how us riffraff are?.)

#38 Rick Stromoski
March/16/2009
@ 8:48 am

>>>slobs like me have to rent a tux. Expensive, a hassle, and anachronistic..

Anarchronistic?

I think dressing formally to the premiere cartooning awards banquet adds a bit of class to the event…just as it does to the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys and Grammys…

It doesn’t have to be a hassle. If you attend 3 formal affairs in your life you might as well buy one , if you’re a man over 30 years of age, you should own your own tuxedo.

>>>There are several points where NCS falls short: it doesn?t work to advocate or promote cartooning in the public arena,

At several Reuben weekends we’ve had meet the public events through chalk talks, meet and greets and book signings…we also contact the host newspapers in the host cities where we go and release press bulletins to the press minutes after the awards end.

>>>>it?s often smug and self-congratulatory,

Awards ceremonies usually are…name one that isn’t.

>>>and it?s essentially closed to cartoonists who don?t qualify for the AARP.

I was Membership chairman for 4 years as well as on the Membership committee for 4 additional years and I can attest that the vast majority of applicants and inductees didn’t have aarp cards.

If you mean some of the current members well I think most cartoonists would be thrilled to meet and have met giants such as Sparky, Will Eisner, Mort Drucker, Bil Keane, Mell Lazarus (who parties longer and harder than most 25 year olds) Mort Walker, Arnie Roth, Jules Feiffer, Bill Gallo, Johnny Hart, Dik Browne, Eldin Dedini, Sergio Aragones, Jack Davis and Al Hirschfeld amongst a host of others some who are no longer with us.

We did try to do business oriented seminars ,feature and syndicate editor panels, legal and copyright issues( I myself chaired one on self promotion years ago ) and they were the least attended and probably for good reason…the thinking being if you are already a top cartoonist why would you want to attend a “How to” seminar…most want to see their peers talk about their work and themselves. Which would you prefer to attend, a seminar on citiq techniques or 5 MAD cartoonists discussing how they locked Sergio Aragones in a mexican bar with a drunken transvestite?
Past seminar speakers included Ralph Steadman, Matt Groening, Lyndda Barry, Everett Peck, Elwood Smith, Jack Davis, Sergio Aragones, Berke Breathed, Garry Trudeau, Anne Telnaes, Mike Luckovich, Gahan Wilson, Sam Gross, Bill Mauldin and Hirschfeld…not too shabby .

The hotels we have host the weekend are definitely top rate venues but we get them at discount rates based on the down time of year when we plan the convention. For instance when we went to the Palace in San francisco some years back, the normal room rate for a standard room was $575 per night but we negotiated down to $125…Suites that normally went for $1200 a night were negotiated down to $225. For your $300 weekend registration you get a series of seminars, a friday night 4 hour open bar welcome party with a food buffet, live entertainment, Karaoke, Saturday full out breakfast, all day seminars, black tie 4 course banquet with 2 hour open bar prior, sunday brunch, all day seminars, and in recent years a 3 hour show/roast/dance party again with open bar. Dramatically reduced rates on 5 diamond hotels and you get to rub elbows with the best cartoonists on the planet.

#39 Mark Tatulli
March/16/2009
@ 9:06 am

I have to agree with Rick here…

A tux rental can go for anywhere form $130 to $160 for the weekend, depending on how fancy you want to get. But you can buy a classsic tux for $100 to $150…I’ve even seen tux’s as low as $75, used but in great shape. Plus, I like putting on a monkey suit once a year. And you can jazz them up from year to year with a different tie or bow tie, or a pleated shirt (though I always recommend french cuffs, no matter how you go with the shirt). Any black dress shoes work, provided they are not too beat-up. I hate those plastic rental jobs.

#40 Wiley Miller
March/16/2009
@ 9:10 am

“Any black dress shoes work…”

With or without socks.

#41 Mark Tatulli
March/16/2009
@ 9:13 am

For the Reubens in Mexico, Dan Piraro wore flip-flops with a suit…and no socks, thank God.

#42 Wiley Miller
March/16/2009
@ 9:21 am

Seriously though, the Reubens is an awards show. Isn’t that exactly the time one should make it a formal affair? I guess one man’s anachronism is another’s tradition. The NCS should never even consider changing the affair just because cartoonists don’t like to dress up like an adult.

#43 Ted Rall
March/16/2009
@ 10:17 am

Just to reiterate, NCS does it what it does well. So does AAEC. It wouldn’t make sense for AAEC to copy NCS, just as it wouldn’t make sense for NCS to copy AAEC.

Different audiences, different memberships, different purposes.

#44 Daryl Cagle
March/16/2009
@ 10:53 am

The AAEC sometimes schedules their convention only two weeks apart from the NCS. Some editorial cartoonists choose not to go to the AAEC and go to the NCS convention ? that is reason enough for the AAEC to consider the NCS in their planning.

There are lots of lessons that the AAEC should take from the NCS, for example:

Have a shorter convention and schedule it within a weekend.

Show a professional face to the public ? don?t post amateurish work on your web site.

Make more of an effort to encourage the attendance of top professionals.

Don?t allow amateur or student members.

If your association management company fails you, drop them and hire a better one.

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

Similar organizations. Similar audiences. Similar memberships. Similar purposes.

#45 Jeff Darcy
March/16/2009
@ 10:54 am

What I’ve concluded from all this is that Matt Bors is the “Bad Cartoonist” “AAEC Member” and Batman.

#46 Wiley Miller
March/16/2009
@ 11:09 am

I agree with all of Daryl’s recommendations. Those would definitely make it a stronger professional organization.

But there’s one thing the NCS could take from the AAEC (which is done by most professional organizations) and plan the event two or more years in advance. This will help reduce rates as well give more flexibility on dates the hotel is available.

A suggestion I made to the NCS about a decade ago was to take a page from the editor’s annual convention, where it’s held in the same city every other year (Washington, D.C. in their case) and in different cities around the country on alternating years. This makes planning much easier and reduces costs, as well as helps members plan for conventions.

#47 Ted Rall
March/16/2009
@ 12:53 pm

Have a shorter convention and schedule it within a weekend.

Shorter might be better, but the AAEC convention is already scheduled within a weekend. It ends around 3 am Sunday when the police start arriving at the hospitality suite. No matter where it’s held, a lot of people need all day Sunday to get home so they can be at work Monday morning.

Show a professional face to the public ? don?t post amateurish work on your web site.

I agree 100%.

Make more of an effort to encourage the attendance of top professionals.

Another excellent idea.

Don?t allow amateur or student members.

Everyone starts out as a wannabe. One good thing about the current policy is that it encourages younger editorial cartoonists. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that so much exciting work is going on in political cartooning (among the alties, for example) while comic strips have remained more staid. I think the student and associate members are great, but that their work shouldn’t be on the AAEC website.

If your association management company fails you, drop them and hire a better one.

That was a tough call, one of my first as prez. No doubt, our management company screwed up, big time. However, former prez Nick Anderson negotiated new terms with them that partly made up for their sins. As for the rest, the Board felt that part of what went wrong was the fact of transitioning from a previous management company. Another transition wouldn’t help. I am confident that our current contacts at the company are working hard to make up their previous deficiencies this year.

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

This seems like a good idea as well, though I might make it more difficult to find people willing to serve. It’s worthy of discussion, certainly.

#48 JP Trostle
March/16/2009
@ 1:06 pm

Wow, go away for one long weekend and everything goes *boom* …

Before getting into any more tit for tat with AAEC vs NCS (and I call dibs on tits for the AAEC!), I wanted to correct a few assumptions from some of the above posters:

>This is probably why Oliphant, Peters, Macnelly, Don Wright, Borgman, Marlette and others never really participated.

Then you really don’t know the history of the organization you belong to, do you? Other than Oliphant, who in general just isn’t a joiner (but who has come and been a guest speaker at past AAEC conventions, most recently in 2004), all the others on your list have been active members for years, if not decades, in the past. Don Wright was a convention host back in ’69 (can’t participate more than that), and Peters just forgets to pay his dues, at which point he apologizes profusely and joins up again. As for MacNelly being active lately, well, you know, dead. Before that he attended conventions regularly and was on the Board of Directors as Vice President back in the ’70s. And Marlette (R.I.P.) was one of the only members ever thrown out *because* he felt he should have been treated like a star and not have to pay his way. Before that, he was here for years.

>Last year?s AAEC convention was the most poorly attended that I can remember.

And the year before that we broke all attendance records in our 50 year history. So what? We knew going into last year’s convention that numbers would be way down for 2008 because so many people had made an extra effort to get to the 50th anniversary convention there was bound to be a ‘hangover’. Quantity has nothing to do with quality — I personally had more fun in San Antonio than DC, and got to know more people better because of the intimacy of a small convention.

As for the quality of the work of some of our members, I do agree it is too often lacking, and to our association’s detriment. As someone actively involved behind the scenes with the problem, I can say it is not as clean cut and simple as it seems it should be, and we have been wrestling with it for years — and will continue to wrestle with it as we tighten up the membership qualifications.

But as Cullum Rogers once said, when he and I were talking about this very issue, no matter where you set the bar, there will always be someone who just barely clears it and gets in.

#49 Rick Stromoski
March/16/2009
@ 1:07 pm

The NCS has found that we actually get better rates from venues with a blueprint we’ve been using since Daryl took over in 2000. It allows us to negotiate substantial concessions from venues during a time when most hotels are desperate for business. If we locked into pricing 2 years in advance we would be paying substantially more for this years and next years conventions. Locking in pricing two years in advance usually works only to the hotels benefit. Right now hotels are falling over themselves for organizations to bring their conventions to them. The idea is to find several hotels who want us, and have them bid down to get us to come. This works regardless the state of the economy but it works especially well when the conditions are like they are now.

By alternating coasts every year we are able to find venues willing to bid for our business at discounted rates which allows us to do a lot more for a lot less. If the convention was in the same city every other year either east or west, we’d be limiting our options as well as our bargaining power.

Using the editors convention model may make the planning easier but it wouldn’t necessarily result in substantial savings.

Using Daryl’s model recent NCS President’s have been able to put on some pretty elaborate weekends at costs we used to spend when we always took the convention to New York for 2 days.

#50 Wiley Miller
March/16/2009
@ 1:29 pm

Good to know. Thanks, Rick.

#51 JP Trostle
March/16/2009
@ 2:22 pm

On 2nd thought, I’m not going to post the tit for tat post I’ve been working on (though if you NCS proponents want to get all Celebrity Deathmatch on the AAEC with the A listers each convention draws, we can drop names with the best of them).

All I know is, when I first got started I didn’t *quite* qualify for the NCS but the AAEC greeted me with open arms, and has done nothing but helped me grow as an artist. Later, when I was invited, and probably would have gotten in, the whole incident with John Kovalic (when the NCS rejected him for being “self-published”) just utterly put me off. My loss, I guess.

Bottom line — if “Mr. AAEC” is still bothering to read this thread — is that you get out of an organization what you’re willing to put into it. Since the first convention I went to, I make sure I seek out and meet at least seven new people every year, and because of that I’ve made friends and professional contacts that help me out even now (even if its just moral support).

Sure our group has its problems, but if you’re not willing to volunteer and to get involved to solve some of the issues you cited, then either get out or STFU.

#52 Mike Peterson
March/16/2009
@ 3:15 pm

“if you?re a man over 30 years of age, you should own your own tuxedo.’

And another when you’re a man over 40 years of age, and another when … unless you can get the special Scarlett O’Hara cummerbund

#53 Tom Gammill
March/16/2009
@ 10:00 pm

Here’s a tip for those who own a tuxedo — you can save on dry cleaning costs by using a black magic marker to cover spots on your jacket or pants.

#54 Mark Tatulli
March/16/2009
@ 10:21 pm

Along those same lines, “Black-Magic Liquid Shoe Polish” is excellent for blocking in large black areas of your comic strip. The angled sponge applicator is very convenient for getting into panel corners.

#55 Sam Wallace
March/17/2009
@ 12:11 pm

A big thanks to everyone. (Lots of you who responed are my heroes) I have been thinking about joining the AAEC. Hopefully as a “regular” member. (if they’ll have me)

I did not mean to start any controversy. I just wanted to know what you got with the price of membership.

I guess the other stuff that I would like to know is…

Other than persistance, good gags, and the ability to draw, is there a “trick or advice” on getting syndicated?

Thanks again,
Sam Wallace

#56 Matt Davies
March/17/2009
@ 1:27 pm

Not sure how much good the 56th comment will do here, but I joined the AAEC at the beginning of my career in the early 90’s. Difficult to write a concrete list of what you “get” for your membership $, but what I received was a gratifying amount of camaraderie, encouragement, friendship, sympathy, admiration and constructive criticism. There are always exceptions to be found in large groups, but on the whole, I have found the AAEC membership to be intelligent, funny, edgy, quirky and overwhelmingly good company. I attribute much of my enthusiasm for our craft and my own personal growth within it directly to my involvement with the group. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

#57 Rick Stromoski
March/17/2009
@ 1:30 pm

>>>Other than persistance, good gags, and the ability to draw, is there a ?trick or advice? on getting syndicated?

Hold Lee Salem for ransom.

#58 Garey Mckee
March/17/2009
@ 3:47 pm

“?Black-Magic Liquid Shoe Polish? is excellent for blocking in large black areas of your comic strip. The angled sponge applicator is very convenient for getting into panel corners.”

Mark high on shoe polish really really explains alot when pondering where Mark’s dark humor for Lio stems from.

#59 sandeep verma
June/9/2011
@ 3:20 am

Sir, i m cartoonist n i wanna be joined professional organisation , please let me know how i can join ? myself Sandeep Verma 33 male from New Delhi, INDIA.

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