Archive for the ‘Chad About Town’ Category

Happy 100th Birthday, Burbank?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Burbank, oh Burbank – what was THAT!?

Just two weeks ago I first learned that my fair city of Burbank, California, was going to be celebrating their 100 years of incorporation on July 8, 2011 with the “Party of the Century.” I myself chose to live in beautiful downtown Burbank fourteen years ago when first arriving in Southern California. The city is clean, well-groomed, quiet, and relatively safe. It reminded me of the town in which I grew up in New Jersey.

Burbank’s “Party of the Century” kicked off at 5pm Friday afternoon with the opening of a time capsule containing the history and treasures of the bygone days of 1986. I didn’t get home until 7 from my job in another town, so I missed seeing the mayor pull out a pair of leg warmers and a Born in the U.S.A. album. Missing the opening ceremonies did not dampen my enthusiasm for getting down to the promised giant pedestrian party being held on 4 or 5 blocks of San Fernando and even part of Olive.

While walking to downtown, I could imagine the wafting scents of funnel cake, popcorn and cotton candy. Thoughts of sizzling marinated BBQ were making my mouth water! Finish it off with snow cones, Italian ice or ice cream! Maybe they’ll have bounce houses for the kids! There surely will be a plethora of face painters, balloons, carnival games, contests for families – perhaps a great commemorative T-shirt to buy, maybe local artisans with wares! Will the local equestrian community trot out their horses for pony rides? Or will the LA Zoo next to town have a petting area with non-dangerous animals? All are things one would dare hope for at a great street fair!

Arriving on the Media Center Mall end of the strip, my excitement could hardly contain itself! There were THOUSANDS of people on the street! First thing to see was a stage where some girls were doing a dance demo. Ok, not my speed. Moving forward, there was a line of about 30 people waiting to see a lone balloon animal maker. Oh well, on to see what was beyond that first block. I was on the hunt for a grilled savory piece of meat.

Meat? Not yet. To the left there were three vendors – a honey vendor, fruit, and flowers – three booths common at our weekly Farmer’s Market. Little did I realize at that moment that they were the ONLY vendors at the event selling anything!

The town certainly had the entertainment covered. I’ll grant them that. Total there were 4 1/2 stages with various groups performing. I spoke to the sax player of a zoot-suited band who told me they traveled over from Idaho for our shin dig. Idaho. Not Burbank. Not even from LA.

The tents started at this point. Now I should find those street fair goodies I am looking for. Nope. The tents almost entirely featured Burbank services (library, credit union, fire dept., etc) or businesses that were in some fashion associated with Burbank’s government (airport, Cusumano Real Estate who owns half the town, Lockheed Martin, etc.). Most were just giving away pamphlets advertising their services. If you were lucky, you could get a pin or a stick-on tattoo.

Where was the fun?

 

Bob "Burbank" Hope

I’m sure the Burbank City Council is slapping themselves on the back – one council member told a friend of mine that 28,000 people were in attendance. If the goal was to support the Burbank businesses who happened to border the party area, then congratulations on a job well-done. There were lines out the door of any restaurant you could find because they were the only source of food or drink (and incapable of handling 10,000 people let alone 28,000).

But this was supposed to be a celebration of our whole city. Why didn’t I see tables of food from longtime Burbank businesses like The Smokehouse, or Chili John’s, or Coral Cafè, or Santoro’s, or Giamela’s, or Riverside Cafè, Bob’s Big Boy (oldest one in the country!), Pinocchio’s, Tony’s Bella Vista, or even that dude down on Magnolia who grills up all kinds of meats on Saturdays for his customers?

Our town is where movies are made. Why didn’t anyone think to construct a giant screen somewhere showing clips of films and TV shows shot on the streets of Burbank? Back to the Future, Clint Eastwood films, Apollo 13, CSI, Parks & Recreation, even Jurassic Park: The Lost World which shot on the very street where we were “partying”.

Where were the family activities to inspire civic pride? How about a William Mulholland Dunk Tank (he built the aqueducts for LA), a Luther Burbank Fruit Smoothie stand, a Luther Burbank look-a-like contest, performances from our local senior center talent show, or one from one of our award-winning high school groups? Maybe a Bob “I used to own Burbank” Hope impersonator doing a USO themed act using Burbankisms as a part of it? NBC, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., ABC, and even Universal Studios all have a leg in Burbank, and the town is home to many of their workers – why didn’t they have a strong presence at the festival?

I did hear that the fireworks were ok. I skipped them. After wandering around for an hour and a half with nothing to do and a grumbling stomach, I was home by 8:45 without having spent a dime and with my spirit crushed that my town had failed my expectations so miserably. The craft fairs held there in the past were more exciting.

So, congratulations on your “Party of the Century” Burbank City Council. Please, next time call it “Party IN a Century” so my expectations won’t possibly have a chance to be dashed.

 

…From the Flat File: 2001 – Captain Traffic

Friday, February 18th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I was in some slow traffic on my way to work, when I was startled to see one of my creations giving me the thumbs up on the side of a mini-van that came up alongside of me. It was as if he was saying, “Good job on your driving, Citizen!” I had heard of the Captain Traffic van before, and yet had never seen it for myself. There he was promoting safe driving on a van that was passing me on the right.

Comedy Traffic School

Captain Traffic giving his thumbs up approval of my driving while on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles.

Back in 2001, I was working at Walt Disney Feature Animation. One of my friends there, Brett Drogmund, was leaving to form his own company that included a fully legal online traffic school here in California. He and his business partner wanted to have a character that would be the ambassador for the business. Together we created Captain Traffic, and not long afterwards, ComedyTrafficSchool.com was born.

I was fairly new to using Photoshop as an art tool at that time. The Captain was inked by hand, and colored in Photoshop. I was beginning to teach Photoshop to the other artists at Disney by day, and by night I was working on lots of Captain Traffic drawings and other cartoons that you can see on their website only if you are a bad driver and have paid for the course (which is only $13.95 these days!).

Captain Traffic

Here's the full drawing of what appears on the side of the ComedyTrafficSchool.com mini van.

If you’d like to see another piece starring Captain Traffic, there’s one on my website that was conceived to be like a comic book cover for Brett’s other website, TrafficSchoolUSA.com where the good Capt. also appears. You can see it by CLICKING HERE!

And if you are on Facebook, Captain Traffic now has his very own fan page which you can see by CLICKING HERE!

So, if you happen to be driving down a freeway in Southern California and you come across Captain Traffic, don’t be startled and swerve into your fellow commuters. But if you do, quickly jot down the phone number from the side of that van. You’re going to need it.

Walkin’ On Sunshine…

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Earlier this month I shared with you the art I did for the poster of a local Burbank production of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys stage play. If you missed it, you can refer to it by CLICKING HERE.

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to attend one of the performances that featured my friend Daniel Roebuck and Jim Roope. Danny has been an actor on the screen for many years (click here to see his credits), and was also responsible for producing and directing this production. Jim, while not usually an actor, normally spends his days as a news correspondent for CNN radio. The two did a marvelous job, and I was able to chat with them afterwards on the set where we took this shot of the three of us with one of the mini-posters featuring my art. Enjoy!

The Sunshine Boys

Daniel Roebuck, Chad Frye, and Jim Roope (who had already removed his prop spectacles depicted in the poster art).

Gladys

Friday, September 10th, 2010

You know what I think is a good time? If you said “going upholstery shopping” you would be wrong, and yet somehow I find myself compelled to write on this topic.

Just a little over a year ago, my folks moved from my childhood home in the suburbs of New Jersey to a home on the range in Delaware which most of my siblings and I descended upon last Christmas. For over thirty years we were used to the holiday sights, smells and activities that could be found in the shadow of New York City, and suddenly found ourselves in a cold, snowy plain with little activity to be viewed from the back porch of the new home. There are only so many games of Farkle, Uno and Skip-Bo to be played before a large family starts developing signs of cabin fever. What to do? What to do?

Well, if you were like us, I grabbed my plaid-lined jacket as everyone piled into the car one frigid white day and traveled an hour north to go UPHOLSTERY SHOPPING!!! Yippee doodle.

Yes, that’s right – thousands of bolts of cloth fabric greeted us at the store, all available for the astute decorator ready to deck their halls with plaids, fleur de lis, stripes and paisleys. My mother was on a mission to find material to recover her old dining room chairs to match the paint of her new dining room. My sister was on a mission to find something delightful to cover her nice old living room chair. I was on a mission to find a chair in the store on which I could retreat out of the way of their missions.

Thankfully, I had the foresight to bring along my sketchbook to draw in. Equally thankfully, the fabric store had the foresight to provide several comfortable chairs for husbands and sons to sit in. As I was making my imprint in a nice leather cushion with one part of me, another part of me was imprinting the blank pages of my sketchbook with doodles.

I soon was lost in the world of my imagination as my hand wielded the pencil about the pages, and then suddenly, there she was like a mirage calling to the thirsty desert traveller – GLADYS! She was a woman smiling, chatting, and enjoying her time tending to the needs of shoppers buying their last minute bolts of cloth to put under the tree. I’m not even sure that Gladys was her real name for she never revealed her real name to me – a true woman of mystery. But there stood this vixen in her cobalt blue sweatshirt and bobbed blonde hair with dark roots wearing a delightful pair of flower print pants with an elastic waistband. Not only was she beautiful, but she was practical. Oh glorious Gladys – where have you been all my life? It was at that moment that I knew I must draw her…

The coy and demure Gladys offering her siren call to unsuspecting holiday fabric shoppers.

The coy and demure Gladys offering her siren call to unsuspecting holiday fabric shoppers.

Then, just as unassuming as the day began, our time in the fabric store was at an end. I reluctantly closed my sketchbook and slowly walked to the door with a wistful look in my eye having an unfulfilled profession of love for Gladys. It’s just as well, though, as it never would have worked – she was clearly into flower prints, while I was into plaids.

The “LOST” Home Movie

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
The cast from Steve Czarnecki's entry in the Walt Disney Studio's employee LOST video contest held in May of 2010.

The cast from Steve Czarnecki's entry in the Walt Disney Studio's employee LOST video contest held in May of 2010. Click on image to enlarge it.

While most of my posts here on my blog have to do with my drawings and paintings, once in awhile I get to play in other genres of the creative arts. This past spring provided just such an opportunity through my good friend Steve Czarnecki when he called me to see if I’d lend him a hand with a video contest his employer was hosting. His employer was Disney, and they were asking their employees to submit 30 second homemade videos pertaining to the end of their hit television series LOST on ABC. Today, the final season of LOST is released on DVD, so I thought it was a good day to show some of my behind-the-scenes photos of the LOST Series Finalè Event Promo Shoot culminating in showing you the final winning video!

When Steve called me, I could hear the hesitation in his voice. “Hey Chad, um, I………want you to play ‘Hurley’ in my video.” “Why the hesitation?” I thought. Was it because I had won the lottery and then was abandoned on an uncharted island? Nope, haven’t done that. Perhaps because I say “Duuude” a lot? Nope, I don’t say that (much). Perhaps because he knew I had a collection of plaid shirts? Nah. Perhaps we’ll never know.

The backyard was literally littered with airplane parts for "LOST" atmosphere.

The backyard was literally littered with airplane parts for "LOST" atmosphere.

The director (at right) surveying his set.

The director (at left) surveying his set.

Some details could ruin your appetite.

Some details could ruin your appetite.

Steve’s shoot took place all day on a beautiful Saturday. My call time was early in the morning when my speaking part would be filmed. When I arrived, you could see that Steve pulled out all the stops. He had borrowed airplane parts from a salvage yard and had strewn them across his backyard. He had borrowed costumes (I – ahem – brought my own wardrobe), had made props, fog machines, a quality camera, and folks who knew how to use them! This was going to be quite a production!

Not only was the set looking mighty fine – Steve had arranged for some other surprises as well. The reason for my early call time was so that I could work with Daniel Roebuck who actually played Dr. Leslie Arzt on the actual show. Danny was a good sport about coming out and reprising his character for Steve’s short film. Without giving it away, his involvement really made the contest entry sparkle!

Daniel Roebuck (on the right) known for his various roles from "Matlock", "The Fugitive" and many other shows and movies.

Daniel Roebuck (on the right) known for his various roles from "Matlock", "The Fugitive" and many other shows and movies.

Director of Photography Josh Turchetta shooting a scene with Steve Czarnecki, Daniel Roebuck, and another friend.

Director of Photography Josh Turchetta shooting a scene with Steve Czarnecki, Daniel Roebuck, and another friend playing a Dharma Initiative worker.

Dr. Leslie Arzt (Daniel Roebuck) and Hugo 'Hurley' Reyes (Chad Frye) with a bucket of Mr. Cluck's Chicken.

Dr. Leslie Arzt (Daniel Roebuck) and Hugo 'Hurley' Reyes (Chad Frye) with a bucket of Mr. Cluck's Chicken.

After our morning shoot, I was able to take off for a couple of hours while the guys worked on some special effects shots, then I came back for the party scene. And what a scene! Other folks imitating characters from the show were there, along with three more performers who had small parts on the actual LOST show. Instead of babbling on about it here, I’ll let the pictures tell the story….

Inside the house, Steve Czarnecki is seen here directing his cast on how they should act when a steady cam will roam around them.

Inside the house, Steve Czarnecki is seen here directing his cast on how they should act when a steady cam will roam around them.

Many details were a part of the set such as food items with Dharma Initiative labels, and this drawing of "LOST" producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse with a polar bear.

Many details were a part of the set such as food items with Dharma Initiative labels, and this drawing of "LOST" producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse with a polar bear.

Sterling Beaumon who played the young Ben Linus on "LOST" was a part of the contest shoot.

Sterling Beaumon who played the young Ben Linus on "LOST" was a part of the contest shoot.

Yes, we even had Dharma Initiative scientists.

Yes, we even had Dharma Initiative scientists - some with battle damage!

Even the real Nadia (Sayid's doomed love on "LOST") came out to play with us - Andrea Gabriel.

The real Nadia (Sayid's doomed love on "LOST") came out to play with us - Andrea Gabriel. And no, that's not my real hair, though I do think that is Andrea's real hair.

We even had Walt's dog in our shoot. I had charge of him in some shots. He was very easy to control since I was holding that bucket of chicken all the time. That's also his real hair.

We even had Walt's dog in our shoot. I had charge of him in some shots. He was very easy to control since I was holding that bucket of chicken all the time. That's also his real hair.

Erin Cottrell, known for her role of Missie LaHaye in movie adaptations of Janette Oke books.

Erin Cottrell, known for her role of Missie LaHaye in movie adaptations of Janette Oke books.

Our fearless director, Steve Czarnecki, who should be smiling. He won an iPad for all his efforts.Our fearless director, Steve Czarnecki, who should be smiling. He won an iPad for all his efforts.
Our fearless director's daughter, Lindalee Czarnecki.
Our fearless director’s daughter, Lindalee Czarnecki.

Neil Hopkins, who played "Liam Pace", Charlie's brother and co-founder of the band "Driveshaft".
Neil Hopkins, who played “Liam Pace”, Charlie’s brother and co-founder of the band “Driveshaft”.

And our final parting shot of my friend Doug Engalla on the left, our version of John Locke, and then yours truly.
And our final parting shot of my friend Doug Engalla on the left, our version of John Locke, and then yours truly.

As I mentioned above, Steve Czarnecki did win the grand prize in the studio contest for his work. You can watch the video below. My only complaint is that with all the great stuff and talent at our disposal – the video is too short. But contest rules are contest rules, so 30 seconds it is! (Complete with voiceover at the end by Bill Rogers, the official announcer of Disneyland!)

The 2010 NCS Reuben Awards – Part 4

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

The annual Reuben Awards weekend this year was not content to lay back and be relaxed on the Sunday after the actual awards ceremony as it has been in years past. Usually after the big night when shiny things had been handed out, the next day has a leisurely brunch, and then a dinner at night.

This year marked the first time that three days of seminars were held during a Reubens. Yes, count ‘em up – 1, 2, and 3 days of seminars. I, for one, was excited about it. Each year the convention is held in a different city, but as far as I’m concerned, where it is held is inconsequential because rarely do I leave the hotel until  the conclusion of the convention. Every seminar had a bit of gold in it as my colleages had many great things to share on different aspects of our very cool business.

Sunday, May 30

This view greeted us from the top floor of the hotel. In the foreground is a historic train station, just beyond that is Ellis Island where relatives of mine entered this country, and then a familiar green statue.

This view greeted us from the top floor of the hotel. In the foreground is a historic train station, just beyond that is Ellis Island where relatives of mine entered this country, and then a familiar green statue.

My personal experience this fine sunny morning was to attend a breakfast business meeting with the NCS Foundation, of which I am a board member. The Foundation serves to give financial support to worthy causes in relation to our profession, as well as helping cartooning colleagues who have need of financial assistance due to dire circumstances. Earlier this year we ran a fundraiser called “Help the Hodges” to help a cartoonists family in need. In addition, each year we bestow the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Award to a worthy college junior or senior who displays a knack for possibly joining our profession upon graduation. (The award is substantial, and includes a trip to The Reubens.)

The first activity for all the convention attendees came by way of a panel discussion led by MAD Magazine‘s Tom Richmond discussing a trip many of our members took with the USO to draw for our troops at war. Joined by Pearls Before Swine‘s Stephan Pastis, Baby BluesRick Kirkman, and Family CircusJeff Keane, Tom shared many photos of their ten-day trip to Germany, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Rick Kirkman and Tom Richmond talking about their USO trip to American troops overseas.

Rick Kirkman and Tom Richmond talking about their USO trip to draw for American troops overseas.

Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine") caught in a candid moment during the USO talk.

Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine") caught in a candid moment during the talk about the USO trip to arid Iraq where, apparently, he developed a fear of running out of water.

Doug Bratton with Chad Frye who were acquainted in high school days in New Jersey, only to discover that each had gotten into cartooning all these years later  when meeting up for

Doug Bratton with Chad Frye who were acquainted in high school days in New Jersey, only to discover that each had gotten into cartooning all these years later when meeting up for the first time in over 20 years.

Animation artist Mark Simon who found a creative way to display "The Family Circus" 50th anniversary pin from our goody bags.

Animation artist Mark Simon who found a creative way to display "The Family Circus" 50th anniversary pin from our goody bags.

The second seminar of the afternoon celebrated the tenth anniversary year of the comic strip Six Chix. If you aren’t aware of this strip, it’s a daily humor strip written and drawn by six terrific female cartoonists – each taking different days to do their thing. Four of the Chix (Rina Piccolo, Anne Gibbons, Isabella Bannerman, and Stephanie Piro) were on the panel to talk about their work.

Rina Piccolo, who is also known for her comic "Tina's Groove", talking about her experience as one of the "Six Chix".

Rina Piccolo, who is also known for her comic "Tina's Groove", talking about her experience as one of the "Six Chix".

Anne Gibbons of "Six Chix" doing her best Apple laptop ad.

Anne Gibbons of "Six Chix" doing her best Apple laptop ad.

Isabella Bannerman sharing her tales of being a part of "Six Chix".

Isabella Bannerman sharing her tales of being a part of "Six Chix".

Speaking of comic strips, many folks who draw them happen to be members of the National Cartoonists Society, and many comic strip artists were in attendance at this year’s convention. In a cruel, yet darkly humorous twist of fate, the local Jersey newspaper, The Newark Star-Ledger, delivered their supply of Sunday papers to the Hyatt that morning FORGETTING to include the comics section.

Brian Crane (artist of the "Pickles" comic strip) about to do a blindfolded drawing experiment for David Folkman.

Brian Crane (artist of the "Pickles" comic strip) about to do a blindfolded drawing experiment for David Folkman.

The Hudson River flowed beneath us crowded with Sunday boaters including a Mark Twain era paddlewheel boat!

The Hudson River flowed beneath us crowded with Sunday boaters including a Mark Twain era paddlewheel boat!

"The Secret of Kells" character designer Barry Reynolds as he adds a creepy something to my sketchbook collection of monster drawings.

"The Secret of Kells" character designer Barry Reynolds as he adds a creepy something special to my sketchbook collection of monster drawings.

The last seminar of the convention was conducted by my friend and extremely talented character designer Stephen Silver. Stephen teaches character design for the online school called Schoolism.com. Lately he has taken it upon himself to film great cartoonists in their studios talking about their work, and even doing full-blown drawing demos all for some documentaries viewable only on Schoolism.com. The first documentary about Mort Drucker is completed, and Stephen is currently editing ones on Archie Comics’ Stan Goldberg and The LockhornsJohn Reiner. After showing a teaser on all three documentaries, John Reiner, Stan Goldberg, Lockhorns writer Bunny Hoest, and former MAD Magazine editor Nick Meglin (representing Mort Drucker who could not attend) all joined Stephen on stage to discuss these documentaries.

Animation character designer Stephen Silver talking about his documentary series about great cartoonists.

Animation character designer Stephen Silver talking about his documentary series about great cartoonists.

John Reiner and Stan Goldberg seem to be eyeing Bunny Hoest's hat to make sure it doesn't spring to life.

John Reiner and Stan Goldberg seem to be eyeing Bunny Hoest's hat to make sure it doesn't spring to life.

Nick Meglin as he talks about the Mort Drucker documentary that Stephen Silver put together.

Nick Meglin as he talks about the Mort Drucker documentary that Stephen Silver put together.

Illustrator Ed "King of New York" Steckley.

Illustrator Ed "King of New York" Steckley in the foreground, while the Empire State Building punctures a little rain cloud in the background soaking three blocks of NYC.

A nice closer view of The Statue of Liberty with a little of the main building on Ellis Island in the foreground.

A nice closer view of The Statue of Liberty taken from the Jersey City Hyatt with a little of the main building on Ellis Island in the foreground.

After the last seminar of the day, it was time to have one last night of fun together. The NCS gathered in the main ballroom of the hotel for some dinner and a show. The show was a fun time led by The New Yorker Magazine cartoonist Matt Diffee. Matt had several cartoonists on stage (David Sipress, Emily Flake, Mike Lynch, Drew Dernavich, Jeff Stahler, and Michael Kupperman) for a bit of improv comedy cartoonists style.

As is common with improv comedy, folks from the audience shouted out various nouns and adjectives, and Matt had the six guest cartoonists draw a cartoon based on those suggestions in a battle to the  death. Well, not death exactly, but it was a mildly cutthroat battle of wits, except minus the cutthroat part. What it was, was FUNNY.

"New Yorker Magazine" cartoonist Matt Diffee hosting the "Gag Smackdown" Sunday night at the Reubens.

"New Yorker Magazine" cartoonist Matt Diffee hosting the "Gag Smackdown" Sunday night at the Reubens.

Those entertained by the "smackdown" were Linda Houden, "New Yorker" cartoonist Mort Gerberg, and David Folkman.

Those entertained by the "smackdown" were Linda Houden, "New Yorker" cartoonist Mort Gerberg, and David Folkman.

The great Mell Lazarus ("Momma") enjoying the on stage doodling.

The great Mell Lazarus ("Momma") enjoying the on stage doodling.

Cartoonists Mike Lynch and Drew Dernavich in the throws of battle.

Cartoonists Mike Lynch and Drew Dernavich in the throws of battle.

To keep the audience entertained while the cartoonists drew their instant cartoons, Matt Diffee had invited the comedy duo of  Stuckey & Murray. Together with an accordian player, Stuckey & Murray delivered their comedy by way of humorous songs they wrote. A few too many of us cartoonists in the audience could relate to one they sang about a grown man who can’t stop wearing his Looney Tunes shirt. At any rate, these fellas will be appearing on Last Comic Standing on NBC this season, so perhaps all will get to know the names of Stuckey & Murray very soon.

The comedy team of Stuckey & Murray with their accordianist. No comedy team should go without one.

The comedy team of Stuckey & Murray with their accordianist. No comedy team should go without one.

Peter Gallagher ("Heathcliff"), Patti Pomeroy (part of the "B.C." team) and Greg Walker ("Hi & Lois" and "Beetle Bailey") among the many in the room.

Peter Gallagher ("Heathcliff"), Patti Pomeroy (part of the "B.C." team) and Greg Walker ("Hi & Lois" and "Beetle Bailey") among the many in the room.

NCS President Jeff Keane enjoying the last night's event that he didn't have to work.

NCS President Jeff Keane enjoying the last night's event that he didn't have to work.

Matt Diffee, the Stuckey & Murray team, and Chad Frye. (One item of trivia for you folks at home - Chad and Matt have known each other since college where they were both art majors and brothers in the same fraternity.)

Matt Diffee, the Stuckey & Murray team, and Chad Frye. (One item of trivia for you folks at home - Chad and Matt have known each other since college where they were both art majors and brothers in the same fraternity.)

Following the show, the socializing continued into the night in the hotel’s lobby. Here are a few bonus shots from that part of the evening:

In an attempt at getting a candid shot of Tom Gammill chatting with Matt Diffee, Wendy Peng jumped into the shot just as the shutter was clicking.

In an attempt at getting a candid shot of Tom Gammill chatting with Matt Diffee, Wendy Peng jumped into the shot just as the shutter was clicking.

Humorous Illustrator Bucky Jones chatting with Wiley Miller ("Non Sequitur" comic strip).

Humorous Illustrator Bucky Jones chatting with Wiley Miller ("Non Sequitur" comic strip).

"Foxtrot" cartoonist Bill Amend

"Foxtrot" cartoonist Bill Amend

Jerry Van Amerongen ("Ballad Street") explaining the minutia of something to "The New Yorker Magazine's" Matt Diffee and George Booth.

Jerry Van Amerongen ("Ballad Street") explaining the minutia of something to "The New Yorker Magazine's" Matt Diffee and George Booth.

The following morning many departed for their homes across the globe. One last parting shot of New York City might be in order….

New York City, Memorial Day weekend, 2010

New York City, Memorial Day weekend, 2010

You know, many artists work at home by themselves in a fairly isolated environment. Connected only by the phone and the internet, we create our art, send it out, and many of you get to see the results. These annual treks to the Reuben Awards are such a welcome opportunity to break away from the seclusion to greet friends and colleagues for several days. We’re just people enjoying the company of each other, swapping back slaps and stories.

Arriving back in Los Angeles, I had one final reminder of the amazing impact our isolation can have. Not two days before I was chatting as colleagues with Steve Brodner, a pretty cool guy who does pretty cool art. As I was going down an escalator in the LAX airport on my way to the baggage claim area, I glided under this giant signage illustrated by Steve. The world of cartooning sure is fun!

A large ad (perhaps 50 feet across) by Steve Brodner in the LAX airport.

A large ad (perhaps 50 feet across) by Steve Brodner in the LAX airport.

The 2010 NCS Reuben Awards – Part 3

Monday, June 7th, 2010

In my previous post about the 2010 Reuben Awards convention hosted by the National Cartoonists Society in Jersey City, New Jersey, I reported on the seminars that took place on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. After Joe Kubert’s great talk, cartoonist conversations continued in every nook and cranny of the hotel, while others started brushing off their top hat, white ties and tails. Well, maybe it wasn’t THAT fancy, but the cartoonists really cleaned up nicely for the black tie Reuben Awards banquet.

Saturday, May 29

On Reuben night, the evening started with a social hour where all the cartoonists were able to strut around in their tuxedos oohing and aahing over each other while taking lots of pictures. It’s a good thing we had our name badges because some of us cleaned up so well we were unrecognizable. Before long, though, we were called in to the banquet room where we found our assigned tables and the meat eaters among us enjoyed some chicken. There was one vegetarian meal at my table that looked as though it was half capers. Cartoonists love a good caper, but not THAT many of the edible kind.

Bill Janocha (assistant to "Beetle Bailey's" Mort Walker), Chad Frye, John Newcombe ("Zack Hill"), and Tom Gammill ("The Doozies") who was Master of Ceremonies that night.

Bill Janocha (assistant to "Beetle Bailey's" Mort Walker), Chad Frye, John Newcombe ("Zack Hill"), and Tom Gammill ("The Doozies") who was Master of Ceremonies that night.

Throughout the meal, we attempted to converse with our dinner companions while a band played music with the seeming intent on sending us away with hoarse voices at the conclusion of the night. The few cartoonists that enjoy dancing didn’t seem to mind it in between courses. As dinner was wrapping up, the program began with a filmed Godfather spoof starring President Jeff Keane (Family Circus) in the title role, and many other cartoonists doing their best Jersey goomba impersonations in the other parts.

Tom Gammill, writer of The Simpsons and creator of his own comic strip called The Doozies, was Master of Ceremonies. After his own short film intro, he came out on stage with a song and dance number similar to what Billy Crystal used to do on the Oscars. He was amazing! And all from one of our newest members having just joined the NCS last year. (Wait’ll you see what initiation ritual we put new members through NEXT year!)

The awards kicked off with the Gold Key Award (the NCS’ Hall of Fame award) which was bestowed upon Bill Gallo who started his career at the New York Daily News in 1941 and has remained with them ever since. Known for his amazing sports cartoons/illustrations for the paper, Bill well deserves this award considering he holds the record for being a journalist the longest for one newspaper.

The great Arnold Roth presenting the two Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Awards to George Booth and Joe Kubert.

The great Arnold Roth presenting the two Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Awards to George Booth and Joe Kubert.

Following the Gold Key Award was Arnold Roth who spoke about The New Yorker Magazine’s great George Booth, and the incomparable comic book legend Joe Kubert who both received the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award. While you may see the photo below of George receiving his plaque, I was unable to get a clean shot of Joe due to his brief acceptance speech of “Thanks.”

Arnold Roth welcoming up George Booth to receive his lifetime achievement award with MC Tom Gammill in the background alongside a giant Mr. Doozie from his comic strip "The Doozies".

Arnold Roth welcoming up George Booth to receive his lifetime achievement award with MC Tom Gammill in the background alongside a giant Mr. Doozie from his comic strip "The Doozies".

Following the first few special awards and opening remarks, there was a short break for leg stretching, more band playing, and settling down with some coffee. And then, let the awards begin!!!

Barry Reynolds (character designer for "The Secret of Kells" movie) with Ronnie Del Carmen (Head of Story for Pixar's "Up") who were both up for the Feature Animation division award.

Barry Reynolds (character designer for "The Secret of Kells" movie who traveled from Ireland to be there) with Ronnie del Carmen (Head of Story for Pixar's "Up") who were both up for the Feature Animation division award.

Famed illustrator Steve Brodner (who won the Advertising & Illustration division award that night) with illustrator and animation artist Chad Frye.

Famed illustrator Steve Brodner with Chad Frye.

This is a shot of the banquet room filled with cartoonists eagerly awaiting the announcements of the Reuben Awards!

This is a shot of the banquet room filled with cartoonists eagerly awaiting the announcements of the Reuben Awards!

Debbie Tomassi accepting her award for the best work in Greeting Cards.

Debbie Tomassi accepting her award for the best work in Greeting Cards.

Tom Richmond, known for his work in "MAD Magazine", was nominated for three awards that night, but is seen here accepting the Newspaper Illustration award, his only win of the evening.

Tom Richmond (known for his work in "MAD Magazine") was nominated for three awards that night, and is seen here accepting the Newspaper Illustration award, his one win of the evening.

"Marmaduke" creator Brad Anderson as he reads off the winner of one of the categories.

"Marmaduke" creator Brad Anderson as he reads off the winner of one of the categories.

MC Tom Gammill had a few helpers on stage such as his beautiful niece Sarah Walker quite successfully channeling Audrey Hepburn.

MC Tom Gammill had a few helpers on stage such as his beautiful niece Sarah Walker who quite successfully channeled Audrey Hepburn.

Illustrator Steve Brodner accepting his award in the Advertising and Illustration category.

Illustrator Steve Brodner accepting his award in the Advertising and Illustration category.

Jerry Scott receiving the Newspaper Comic Strip division award for "Zits" (won with his partner Jim Borgman) from Cathy Guisewite. Phil Pyster, caretaker of all the awards, stands in the middle.

Jerry Scott receiving the Newspaper Comic Strip division award for "Zits" (won with his partner Jim Borgman) from Cathy Guisewite. Phil Pyster, caretaker of all the awards, stands in the middle.

Jerry Scott speechifying his feelings about winning the Newspaper Comic Strip division award (with Jim Borgman who could not attend).

Jerry Scott speechifying his feelings about winning the Newspaper Comic Strip division award (with Jim Borgman who could not attend).

After the Division Awards were bestowed upon their worthy recipients (for a complete list of winners, please visit the NCS’ official website), living legend Mort Walker walked to the microphone to award the famed Reuben Award statue originally designed by Rube Goldberg at the inception of the NCS 64 years ago. This award is for Cartoonist of the Year no matter what field of cartooning they are proficient in. It can only be won by an individual once in their lifetime, so to be honored by your peers in this way is quite an honor. Three worthy cartoonists were nominated this year: Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Dan Piraro (Bizarro) and Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac).

Mort Walker (currently in his 60th year of "Beetle Bailey") as he announces the winner of The Reuben Award.

Mort Walker (currently in his 60th year of "Beetle Bailey") as he announces the winner of The Reuben Award.

The winner of the 2010 Reuben Award was Dan Piraro who was unable to attend the festivities this year. Accepting on his behalf was King Features’ editor Brendan Burford whose speech was humorously interrupted by Tom Gammill who came out sporting Dan Piraro’s signature hat and  stogey while grabbing the trophy and running off the stage. Thus ended another successful awards banquet!

While the awards concluded around midnight, the celebrating continued long into the night in the hotel’s lobby, and in the President’s room. The following are a few lobby parting shots.

Reuben Award nominee Richard Thompson ("Cul de Sac") in the middle with a friend on the left, and Feature Animation division award winner Ronnie del Carmen.

Mo Willems, and Reuben Award nominee Richard Thompson ("Cul de Sac") talking with Feature Animation division award winner Ronnie del Carmen.

"The Secret of Kells" Barry Reynolds, illustrator Adrian Sinnott, and "The Lockhorns'" Bunny Hoest.

"The Secret of Kells" Barry Reynolds, illustrator Adrian Sinnott, and "The Lockhorns'" Bunny Hoest.

Book editor Charles Kochman with Chad Frye.

Book editor Charles Kochman with Chad Frye.

Barbie Parham doing her best 2am Statue of Liberty impersonation with the real Statue of Liberty within site of the hotel out those very windows.

Barbie Parham doing her best 2am Statue of Liberty impersonation with the real Statue of Liberty within sight of the hotel out those very windows.

One more post of 2010 Reuben Awards photos to come of the events on the NCS’ last day in New Jersey!

The 2010 NCS Reuben Awards – Part 2

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Welcome to my second report on the National Cartoonists Society‘s annual Reuben Awards weekend that happened just one week ago in Jersey City, New Jersey. What an amazing time spent with cartoonists of all disciplines (animation, comic strips, comic panels, editorial, illustration, etc.) – no fans, just pros with pros and their families. President Jeff Keane along with his helpers put on a terrific convention over the three day Memorial Day weekend.

So, when last we met, I ended with tales of the seminars on Friday. That leaves us with the opening night reception….

Friday, May 28

With a golden twilight New York City as a backdrop, "Tundra" artist Chad Carpenter, Bobbi Hart (Johnny Hart's wife), Karen Carpenter, Chad Frye, ___, Mason Mastroianni ("B.C." artist) and Patti Pomeroy (Mason's mother and daughter of Johnny Hart).

With a golden twilight New York City as a backdrop, "Tundra" artist Chad Carpenter, Bobbi Hart (Johnny Hart's wife), Karen Carpenter, Chad Frye, Anica Wong (from Creator's Syndicate), Mason Mastroianni ("B.C." artist) and Patti Pomeroy (Mason's mother and daughter of Johnny Hart).

As the sun set Friday night on the Hudson River, a beautiful golden glow enhanced the view of the New York City skyline while all the cartoonists gathered in a beautiful banquet room surrounded by windows. The 2010 Reuben Weekend opening night party was underway. In one corner you could see Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) chatting with Jerry Scott (Baby Blues & Zits), or Mell Lazarus (Momma) in conversation with Cathy Guisewite (Cathy). It was a great way to kick off the rest of the weekend properly.

Illustrator Sean Kelly taking a photo of Kate Reilly and Wendy Peng posing with a paper cut-out of Paul Gilligan's ("Pooch Cafè") girlfriend (made by "Secret Saturday's" Jay Stephens) who couldn't make it past Canadian customs.

Illustrator Sean Kelly taking a photo of Kate Reilly and Wendy Peng posing with a paper cut-out of Paul Gilligan's ("Pooch Cafè") girlfriend (made by "Secret Saturday's" Jay Stephens) who couldn't make it past Canadian customs.

After the opening night reception, the gathering herded to another room on the first floor for a little cartoonist karaoke and more socializing. For some odd layout reason, the room was located at the end of a residential hall of the hotel. All the guests staying on that hall were “treated” to the sounds of off key cartoonists. I have a feeling that those guests had little idea that many of the people who make them laugh every day in the newspaper were now making them cry as they tried to sleep through the racket that carried on until 2am. Below are a few shots from that event.

Mark Tatulli (cartoonist of "Lìo") belting out "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from "Oklahoma" in the best cowboy garb this Jersey cartoonist could assemble..

Mark Tatulli (cartoonist of "Lìo") belting out "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from "Oklahoma" in the best cowboy garb this Jersey cartoonist could assemble..

Children's book author/illustrator, greeting card maven, and really nice lady Sandra Boynton who participated in the karaoke by bringing her kids who sang.

Children's book author/illustrator, greeting card maven, and really nice lady Sandra Boynton, who participated in the karaoke by bringing along her singing kids.

"MAD Magazine" art director Sam Viviano singing songs HIS way even though he was attempting Sinatra.

"MAD Magazine" art director Sam Viviano singing songs HIS way even though he was attempting Sinatra.

Rick Squared - Rick Stromoski ("Soup To Nutz") and Rick Kirkman ("Baby Blues").

The two Ricks - Rick Stromoski ("Soup To Nutz") and Rick Kirkman ("Baby Blues").

Keelan & Barbie Parham looking far too fresh-faced in the midst of exposure to 1am caterwauling.

Keelan & Barbie Parham looking far too fresh-faced in the midst of exposure to 1am caterwauling.

Kate & Michael McParlane (editorial illustrator) doing their best "I Got You Babe" impersonations.

Kate & Michael McParlane (editorial illustrator) doing their best "I Got You Babe" impersonations.

Saturday, May 29

When one attends the Reuben Awards convention, one does so knowing full well the fragility of sleep. When an organized event has ended, cartoonists always gather in the hotel lobby to continue the socializing. I often went to bed at 3:30am throughout the weekend, and was by far NOT the last one up. Mornings are a bit rough, especially Saturday morning when breakfast was served to everyone at 8am. New York was looking pretty good, though. Or maybe this was just the view through groggy half-lidded eyes:

New York City, 2010

New York City, 2010

After a morning of breakfast and the annual general membership meeting, the second wave of seminars began. Saturday afternoon promised us two of our profession’s greats who were attending to receive their Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Awards that night. The New Yorker’s George Booth and the comic book artist of legend Joe Kubert both shared their careers with us in seminars. I’ll let the pictures (and captions) do the talking.

Cartoonist George Booth (assisted by his daughter Sarah) enlightened the afternoon crowd with many humorous stories of his life and career.

Cartoonist George Booth (assisted by his daughter Sarah) enlightened the afternoon crowd with many humorous stories of his life and career.

Among the many enjoying George Booth's talk were illustrator Sean Kelly, greeting card artist Barbara Dale, and "Cathy" cartoonist Cathy Guisewite.

Among the many enjoying George Booth's talk were illustrator Sean Kelly, greeting card artist Barbara Dale, and "Cathy" cartoonist Cathy Guisewite. Just off to the left is Stephanie Piro of "Six Chix".

Dave Coulson, Adrian Sinnott and Frank Pauer looking  over some original comic strip art.

Dave Coulson, Adrian Sinnott and Frank Pauer looking over some original comic strip art.

Two comic book legends greeting each other - Jerry Robinson (from early "Batman" comics) and Joe Kubert ("Sgt. Rock", "Hawkman").

Two comic book legends greeting each other - Jerry Robinson (from early "Batman" comics) and Joe Kubert ("Sgt. Rock", "Hawkman").

Joe Kubert looking on as Bill Janocha (assistant to Mort Walker) show Joe an original splash page of "The Three Stooges" comic book that Joe drew in younger days.

Joe Kubert looking on as Bill Janocha (assistant to Mort Walker) shows Joe an original splash page of "The Three Stooges" comic book that Joe drew in younger days.

Cartoonists Doug Bratton and Graham Nolan ("Rex Morgan, M.D.") enjoying Joe Kubert's talk. Just to the left you can see Brian Walker ("Hi & Lois") and on the right Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts").

Cartoonists Doug Bratton and Graham Nolan ("Rex Morgan, M.D.") enjoying Joe Kubert's talk. Just to the left you can see Brian Walker ("Hi & Lois") and on the right Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts").

Joe Kubert answering a question during a riveting Q&A session.

Joe Kubert answering a question during a riveting Q&A session.

Jerry and his wife Gro Robinson enjoying the talk being given by their friend Joe Kubert.

Jerry and his wife Gro Robinson enjoying the talk being given by their friend Joe Kubert.

Patrick McDonnell with Ronnie Del Carmen. Patrick created some development art for Pixar's "Up" movie, and Ronnie was the Head of Story on the film.

Patrick McDonnell with Ronnie del Carmen. Patrick created some development art for Pixar's "Up" movie, and Ronnie was the Head of Story on the Oscar-winning film.

David Folkman has been collecting artist drawings created while blindfolded. Here he takes Joe Kubert's picture as he attempts to draw his character Tor.

David Folkman has been collecting artist drawings created while blindfolded. Here he takes Joe Kubert's picture as he attempts to draw his character Tor.

Here Joe Kubert adds a better drawing of Tor next to the one he drew while blindfolded.

Here Joe Kubert adds a better drawing of Tor next to the one he drew while blindfolded.

Come back for my next post that will feature photos of cartoonists in tuxedos when I’ll discuss the actual Reuben Awards banquet!