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Cartoonists groups respond to difficult times

Joe Strupp, writing in Editor & Publisher look at how the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) and National Cartoonists Society (NCS) are holding up in this struggling economy with membership numbers and conference attendance.

Rex Babin, president of the AAEC talks about membership in his organization:

“We are not solely a newspaper editorial cartoonists group,” says Rex Babin, president of the AAEC and a 10-year editorial cartoonist at The Sacramento Bee. “We have made an effort to actively recruit others.” He says the requirements for membership are “kind of vague,” adding that the key requirement is that prospective members be professional cartoonists who are paid for their work. But he states: “There is an area where that is subjective, because it is changing just as being a professional journalist has changed.”

NCS President Jeff Keane on membership in his organization:

At the National Cartoonists Society (NCS), which has had a steady 580 members for the past few years, measures have actually been taken in recent decades to restrict who can join, according to President Jeff Keane, co-creator of the “Family Circus” comic strip started by his father, Bill. “It is not that you are at a newspaper, it is whether you are a working cartoonist making the majority of your income from cartooning for at least three years,” Keane explains. “About five years ago, we really wanted to make it so that everyone was qualified, and that dropped our roster down. We didn’t want a fan base in there. We wanted to make it more prestigious so that when you join, it is something that is the top level of the industry.”

Community Comments

#1 Henry Clausner
December/18/2009
@ 9:06 am

Everybody is feeling it guys….why not have a fan base join the group and create different levels….?

#2 Ted Rall
December/22/2009
@ 9:58 am

In fact, the AAEC is taking steps to reach out to fans through events like Cartoonapalooza, which I began a few years ago in order to bring the public into the AAEC’s annual convention so they could interact with the cartoonists. I like the idea of a fan membership category, though!

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