It’s a Dirty Job But Someone’s Gotta Do It – Memoirs of a National Cartoonists Society President

I was president of the NCS from June, 1999 to May, 2001, and I ran two “Reuben Awards” conventions. The first was held at the World Trade Center in Manhattan the year before the towers were destroyed, and the second in Florida at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Much of the work of the NCS president is like being a wedding planner, with all the joys, stresses and horrors that implies, which left me with an odd perspective on our colorful profession. Here are my recollections …

Daryl Cagle remembers his time as President of the National Cartoonists Society,
in a trilogy entitled “When I was President.


Twenty years ago the membership of the NCS included nearly twice as many professional cartoonist members as it does now, and popular newspaper comic strips were the NCS’s strength. The group was rancorous and my years in the hot seat were toasty. We had a crisis at the start…

When I was President (part one).



What is most fun about being the NCS president is that the president gets to “commission” the Reuben weekend artwork; I called my first choice, who graciously agreed, which gave me the delightful opportunity to serve as art director to the legendary Jack Davis. I love Jack’s work and I grew up looking forward to his art in each new issue of Mad Magazine; it was great fun to work with him on this. He was such a Southern gentleman. Jack Davis was, and always will be, my cartoonist hero.

More of When I was President (part two).



above: Non Sequitur November 15, 2000

The [2001] convention went well. Steve McGarry directed both the show at the Saturday night Reuben Awards, and a Sunday roast of cartoonist Mike Peters. I learned that many NCSers do an excellent impression of Mike Peters, including Jeff Keane who dislocated his shoulder while running up the steps to the stage, and hid the pain so the audience never knew that he was suffering. When Jeff left the stage, he was rushed off to a hospital. What a pro!

Still More of When I was President (part three).


Even though this all happened twenty years ago, it still makes me feel tired when I think about it; but I have lots of nice trophies and memories from the experience and I continue to enjoy the NCS as a civilian.

Some cartoonists complain that they don’t “get anything” from the NCS –what they get is the opportunity to hang with their colleagues and meet their cartoon heroes. I wholeheartedly recommend that all professional cartoonists join the NCS, visit the NCS site for more information about joining.