I’m back from the AAEC Convention in San Francisco, recovering from a red-eye flight and very late with today’s posting. I’m also realizing that, while a lot of the convention consisted of socializing, which is a good thing, there was a day of intense presentations that can’t be summed up in a single post.
So we’ll save a large chunk for tomorrow which will appear at its normal time, and apologies for the lateness of this smaller chunk.
Some of the socializing was purely that: A reception at the Cartoon Art Museum and a bus tour of the wineries were purely social.
Though I did finally get to meet Brian Fies in person. We’ve been close friends for some 23 years, since the days of rec.arts.comics.strips, and his first postings of pages from Mom’s Cancer, before it became a book. But we’d never been in the same room. Welcome to the 21st Century.
But there were also people who toured Pixar and some who visited the Walt Disney Museum, which, as you can imagine, were not simply tourist visits but rich sources of insight and inspiration for professional artists.
I’d also note that cartooning is, in most cases, a solitary pursuit and getting a group of cartoonists together offers chances to exchange gossip and remembrances and a great deal of discussion and debate over various aspects of the art form.
Sparked in this case by a large contingent of Canadians, since they’ll be hosting next year’s confab in Montreal, and a pair of cartoonists from New Zealand, which not only brought differences in style and approach but a substantial variation of experiences and backgrounds.
AAEC President Jack Ohman presided over awards Saturday evening, with the Rex Babin Award going to Joel Pett. This is considered a major award within the group, honoring the late Sacramento cartoonist and recognizing a cartoonist each year who makes a substantial contribution through their work to their local community.
I’d add that, as more papers are either closed or forced into cookie-cutter coverage, local work by editorial cartoonists is more crucial than ever.
As you may have already read in DD Degg’s coverage, the Daily Cartoonist was awarded an Ink Bottle Award for contributions to the art form, along with Michael Cavna, who writes about cartooning for the Washington Post, Matt Bors, who for a decade published the Nib, giving young and alternative artists a platform, and Maryellen Dabaghian, who has done substantial volunteer work for the AAEC.
To which I will add a personal note that it was a surprise and that, while I’m on record as not thinking much of awards, there’s a difference between being nominated by your employer and being chosen by your peers.
Applause from your colleagues is a different thing entirely. And that applies to the Rex Babin Award, too.
The Canadians also presented their awards, with Wes Tyrell, right, having recently retired Toronto Star cartoonist Brian Gable (center) present the award for French-language cartoonist to Guy Badeaux, seen here at left, and the English-language award going to Dale Cummings, with New Zealander Rod Emmerson declared an “Official Canuck.”
There was one workshop-style event earlier Saturday, in which Steve Brodner, who has been teaching his approach to caricature and style, provided a roomful of professional cartoonists with an opportunity to try his method of working.
He began with a rundown of how he does it, then had AAEC President Jack Ohman sit for a substantial series of poses — angry, happy, laughing, etc — while the cartoonists had a limited time to apply what they had learned and come up with caricatures or portraits, depending on how you prefer to define the end product.
As they worked, Brodner gave tips to the general audience but also moved around critiquing individual efforts, in this case looking over Rob Rogers’ work, which provides a sense of the atmosphere of the activity, with one master teaching another.
It felt like a graphic version of Howling Wolf teaching Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman how to play “Little Red Rooster” in the London Sessions. It’s not like they didn’t know how to play it to begin with, but they knew more about playing it after they’d seen how the Wolf did things.
A whole lot more tomorrow. You’ll know more then, too.