Monday, December 31, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Excelsior Stan!

Happy Birthday today to Stan Lee (90).

It's the birthday of comic book writer Stan Lee (books by this author), born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City (1922). He spent most of his childhood watching Errol Flynn movies and reading boys' adventure stories. He decided to be a writer at an early age, and won a writing contest sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune three weeks in a row.

He got a job just out of high school as a gofer for a publishing company called Timley Publications, which put out comic books. At first he got people coffee, swept floors, and ran errands, but eventually he began to proofread, and then write the occasional script, because he said, "I knew the difference between a declarative sentence and a baseball bat."

When he began to write scripts regularly, he chose to write under a pseudonym. He said, "I felt that those simple little comic books weren't important enough to deserve my real name. I was saving that for the Great American novel that I hoped to write one day. So I just cut my first name [Stanley] in half and called myself 'Stan Lee.'"

Lee was just 18 years old when the editor of the publishing house quit, and he got the job as head editor and writer. It was supposed to be temporary, but he wound up staying for more than 30 years.

At first, Lee wrote comic books without taking them very seriously. He said: "I was the ultimate hack. I was probably the hackiest hack that ever lived. I wrote whatever they told me to write the way they told me to write it. It didn't matter: War stories, crime, Westerns, horror, humor; I wrote everything."

But in the 1960s, Stan Lee began to regret all the time he'd spent writing mindless entertainment. At parties, he was embarrassed to admit that he wrote for comic books. He told his wife that he was fed up and he was going to quit. She suggested that if he had nothing to lose, he should try creating a comic book he could be proud of, since it wouldn't matter if he got fired anyway. He agreed, and decided that the most important thing lacking from comic books was complex characters. All the good guys were entirely good, and the bad guys entirely evil. Stan Lee said: "[I decided to create] the kind of characters I could personally relate to. They'd be flesh and blood ... they'd be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay."

Instead of creating just one new comic book series, Lee created more than half a dozen, including The Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange.

But his most successful character of all was The Amazing Spiderman, about an awkward teenager named Peter Parker who develops superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He was the first superhero to be filled with self-doubt, the first superhero to struggle with the question of whether he wanted to be a superhero. Stan Lee's boss hated the idea, but the first issue featuring Spiderman sold every copy that was printed, and Spiderman went on to become one of the most popular superheroes ever invented.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brad Anderson to Recieve the NCS Milton Caniff Award

Brad Anderson, the creator of the comic strip Marmaduke, will be honored with the National Cartoonists Society's Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award at the 21013 NCS Reuben Award Weekend, held this year in Pittsburgh, PA on May 24th-26th. Brad's amazing career spans 60 years and includes cartoons for many magazines and publications in addition to Marmaduke, which is syndicated by Universal Uclick. In 2010 Marmaduke became a major motion picture from 20th Century Fox, featuring a computer animated Marmaduke alongside live actors.

About Brad Anderson (an excerpt from an America Profile article from 2010):
     Putting pen to paper, cartoonist Brad Anderson, 86, sketches the playful pooch he’s created for 56 (now 59) years, starting with the big dog’s pointed ears, elongated nose, sloppy grin and cheerful eyes before tackling his sizeable torso and long, clumsy legs.
     “Marmaduke is very expressive and very active, and he’s always doing something funny or ridiculous or crazy,” says Anderson, adding accent lines that suggest a dog in motion. “He’s always jumping over the couch, chasing after a cat. In the car, he wants to take over and drive.”
     Working in his home in Montgomery, Texas (pop. 489), Anderson chronicles the amusing antics of the awkward but loveable Great Dane, creating six single-panel comics and one Sunday strip each week to add to his collection of 20,000 Marmaduke-inspired comics, two dozen books, a 1970s animated TV show and a new feature film.
     Universal Uclick distributes Marmaduke to more than 500 newspapers in 10 countries. Every day, people can read Marmaduke and expect to get a little chuckle.  
    These days, nobody chuckles more than Anderson, who never dreamed he’d still be drawing the canine character that he introduced to the comics pages in 1954. “Every day, I go to work still enjoying the challenge of creating expression and body language,” he says. “It’s never a burden, never a job. It’s just fun.”
     Born in 1924 and raised in Portland, N.Y., Anderson nurtured his artistic talent whenever he wasn’t helping his mother garden or his dad in the family’s farm machine business. “My mother said I started drawing before I could talk,” recalls Anderson, whose first words included a repeated request for a “pentil” and whose first vivid memory was using a pencil to draw on the sidewalk at his grandparents’ house.
     During high school, he sold his first cartoon to Flying Aces, an aviation magazine. The $3 paycheck was enough to buy a hamburger, a milkshake and a ticket to the movies, where silent films of the day featured visual action and written gag lines—the same approach he’s used for decades in Marmaduke.
     After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Anderson married his high school sweetheart, Barbara, and studied art at Syracuse University on the GI Bill, graduating in 1951 and eventually working for a public relations company in Utica, N.Y. All the while, he sold cartoons to Collier’s Weekly, The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. Commanding payments of $100 and up for his drawings, he became a full-time freelance cartoonist and, while featuring a shaggy dog in a farm magazine series, came upon the idea of a dog as the center of a family comic strip.
     “I didn’t want to do another shaggy dog, though, because I had no interest in drawing all that floppy hair,” Anderson recalls. “I wanted a short-haired dog similar to this big boxer that my mother and stepfather had at the time. He was kind of a funny, clownish dog that I used as a model, but I wanted an even bigger dog.”
     He initially drew Marmaduke as a large, menacing animal but soon realized that an unfriendly dog wouldn’t win friends. “I took away the scowl and began to give him more body movement and expression, and the whole drawing changed. He became a very happy dog,” he says.
     Anderson developed Marmaduke while working five to seven days a week at home in Vista, Calif....

About the Milton Caniff Award:
THE MILTON CANIFF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD is awarded by unanimous vote of the NCS Board of Directors. It is given for a lifetime of outstanding and accomplished work to a cartoonist who has not previously won a Reuben. It is considered one of the highest honors the Society can bestow.
Congratulations to Brad! This is a great honor, and his contributions to American pop-culture and cartooning cannot be overstated.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from The Joneses

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all my great North Central Chapter friends! My wife created our card...and for those of you that know us, me,'ll know it is quite fitting :-) My best to everyone!___Bucky

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter is here...

Here in the heart of the Midwest, it snowed last night. From what I've been seeing on, the storm is making its way to the northeast toward the Great Lakes, Chicago, etc. We got something near to 6-inches. Shoveling is sooo much fun... NOT! Keep warm, my friends.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The passing of a true legend...

Taking a moment away from cartoon subjects to remember one of my inspirations.

Jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck dies at 91, just shy of his 92 birthday. Take some TIME OUT to remember this incredible artist today.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Disney Toonfest 2012 analysis

Paul Fell and I made our way south to Kansas City (metro) to put in our two-cents at the annual post-Disney Hometown Toonfest meeting where we review the pros and cons of the year's Toonfest and then look forward to the next year.
Conclusion: the 2012 Toonfest was a big success, thanks in part to our guest speakers, C.F. Payne; Paul Coker, Jr.; Bucky Jones; and Kelly McNutt.
A number of ideas were thrown about for the 2013 Disney Toonfest. As they develop, I'll post them on the Chapter blog.
Thanks to all of those who help to make the Disney Hometown Toonfest such a success each year.

— ME

Monday, November 26, 2012

Today We Celebrate the Birthday of...

It's the birthday of cartoonist Charles Schulz (books by this author), born in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1922). His parents left school after third grade, and his father was a barber who supported the family on 35 cent haircuts. Every Sunday, Schulz and his father read the "funny pages" together, and the boy hoped to become a cartoonist someday. But he had a tough time in school — he felt picked on by teachers and other students. He was smart enough to skip ahead a couple of grades, but that only made it worse. He wished someone would recognize his artistic talent, but his cartoons weren't even accepted by the high school yearbook.

After high school, he was drafted into the Army; his mother died of cancer a couple of days before he left. When he came home, he moved in with his father in the apartment above the barbershop. He got a job teaching at Art Instruction, a correspondence course for cartooning that he had taken as a high schooler. There he fell in love with a red-haired woman named Donna Mae Johnson, who worked in the accounting department. They dated for a while, but when he asked her to marry him, she turned him down and soon after married someone else. Schulz was devastated, and remained bitter about it for the rest of his life. He said: "I can think of no more emotionally damaging loss than to be turned down by someone whom you love very much. A person who not only turns you down, but almost immediately will marry the victor. What a bitter blow that is."

Schulz started publishing a cartoon strip called L'il Folks in the local paper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but they dropped it after a couple of years. Schulz sent some of his favorite L'il Folks cartoons to the United Features Syndicate, and in 1950, the first Peanuts strip appeared in nine national newspapers, including The New York Times and The Boston Globe. The first strip introduced Charlie Brown, and Snoopy made an appearance two days later. The rest of the Peanuts characters were added slowly over the years: Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, Pig Pen, Peppermint Patty, and many more. Throughout the years, the object of Charlie Brown's unrequited love is known simply as The Little Red-Haired Girl.

Peanuts was eventually syndicated in more than 2,500 newspapers worldwide, and there were more than 300 million Peanuts books sold, as well as 40 TV specials, four movies, and a Broadway play.

Charles Schulz said: "My whole life has been one of rejection. Women. Dogs. Comic strips."


Monday, November 5, 2012

Got a photo with your favorite PEANUTS character?

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is requesting digital photos of people taken with their beloved Peanuts dolls, products, memorabilia, clothing, etc. for our upcoming exhibit Useable Loveable Peanuts (December 15, 2012-April 28, 2013). Scanned photos taken between the dates of 1950s-1985 are desired. Pictures can only be received in digital format via email. Please do not send originals. Send your digital pictures to

Digital photos will be exhibited in Useable Loveable Peanuts only! Photos will not be reproduced for commercial use. By sending in a photo you are accepting these terms of display.

This will help our friends at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Thanks gang.

— ME

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Meeting 2012... it was GREAT!

As the autumn of 2012 roars ahead into full color, the North Central Chapter turns over a new leaf and prepares to close out the year with a mile-stone chapter meeting in that town that we like to call the best-kept-secret of the Plains, Sioux Falls, SD. Why, it was only last year when Paul Fell, chapter treasurer, and I were driving southward toward Kansas City for a Toonfest planning meeting, when he turned to me and said, “Why don’t you ask [Ann] Telnaes to be our guest speaker for the fall meeting?”
“But Paul, that’s nearly a year away. What’s the rush?” I replied.

Knowing how these things go, I sent an email to Ann, seeing her schedule might permit a trip to the Midwest in October and would she be obliging. To my delight and surprise, she agreed.

Once that hurtle was cleared, I contacted our point man, er, person in South Dakota, the one and only Ken Alvine. He said not to worry; he’d get right on it. Despite his mild-mannered demeanor, Ken can really hustle when the demands are high. This time he really out did himself. He had about 90% of the meeting planned and locked in before we had the judging meeting for the Reuben Awards in February.

The theme of the meeting, and we have themes so rarely, was “The Art of Editorial Cartoons in An Election Year.” The schedule included a panel discussion at the downtown public library which featured Patrick Lalley, editor of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper; Paul Fell, syndicated editorial cartoonist; Ed Fischer, editorial cartoonist formerly with the Omaha World Herald; and Jeff Koterba, editorial cartoonist for the Omaha World Herald and author. Later a welcome and reception were held at the new art gallery at Augustana College. Once we’d been fed and made welcome, Ann Telnaes, Pulitzer Prize winner and editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post was joined on stage with Joel Johnson, professor of Political Science at Augustana College to discuss Ann’s work, her new app, and then Q&A from the audience.

Then it was off to Jackie Dusseau Beilke and BrianBeilke’s house for an evening of relaxation, lively chats, and light dining and refreshments with the gang. Man, do those Beilke’s know how to party! Hell, they even remodeled part of the house for us… a-hem!

After breakfast we had our Chapter meeting, for NCS members only. How Fell got in, I’ll never know. I’d tell you what we discussed but it falls under the category of Double Top Secret. Those of us with things to sell could be found at Zanbroz Bookstore, just a couple blocks from our hotel. Books, posters, and left over beer bottles were autographed for the buying public.

Then lunch!!! Ken had made arrangements for an incredible lunch for all of us at Minervas restaurant, Sioux Falls’ answer to fine dining. And believe me, it was soooo fine! The second best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many from Honolulu to Austria. If you’re ever in Sioux Falls, plan on a meal at Minervas.

After lunch it was back to the downtown public library for presentations by Dave Carpenter who told us of his years of success as a contributing cartoonist to various well-known magazines. Then it was Kelly McNutt’s turn at bat. He gave a presentation on his incredible animation work.

Once the presentations were completed it was off to the home of Chris and Carroll Browne for a let-your-hair-down kind of evening and an incredible dinner!

I don’t know how we’re going to top this chapter meeting. Those who made the effort to put it all together did one helluva job! Thank you, one and all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A great time was had by all...

It was a night to be remembered. The North Central Chapter's Fall 2012 meeting reached its zenith with an incredible party at the home of Chris and Carroll Browne. As always, the Browne's always make their guests feel right at home and this night was no exception. Thank you Chris and Carroll.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sioux Falls is right around the corner!

You got Ken's email (Sept 4) about the hotel reservations... right?
Here's the reminder that the Holiday Inn City Center (where we'll be meeting) needs your reservation by Sept 11 (TUESDAY) if you want the $94 per night room rate. Don't wait! Call them NOW if you don't have your room — 605-339-2000 and be sure to mention "National Cartoonist Society."

If you need any other additional info, contact Ken Alvine at or by phone at 605-366-9434 or his cell at 605-310-0780. He's the go-to-guy on this.
Also, for those who are attending would you please send Ken one of your drawing that he can have copied off. You can use this art to autograph instead of doing a new drawing for all the request you will receive for a drawing and autograph.

If you are planning on attending Ken would appreciate it if you would let him know.
It is going to be a great meeting.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fell's 15 minutes of fame!

Our very own Paul Fell can now retire a happy man... in today's (August 26, 2012) edition of the NEW YORK TIMES, the SUNDAY New York Times, Kate Murphy's piece on Randy Moody, co-chairman of Republicans for Planned Parenthood made mention of our fellow North Central Chapter member, Paul Fell.
When you see Paul at the Disney Toonfest next month, or at the Fall chapter meeting in October, be sure to ask him for his autograph.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Syd Hoff website

I received an email from Syd Hoff's niece, Carol Edmonston, yesterday. It reads like this:

I’m thrilled to let you know that has just been updated and expanded in anticipation of Syd Hoff’s September 4th centennial. The site now includes a rich selection of his cartoons from a multitude of national publications – cartoons which still have relevance in today’s world. Other additions include many Ad Commissions, Mystery Short Stories he wrote, his life Time-Line, and a Kids Page featuring the “how to’s” of cartooning using letters and numbers. It also includes a new section dedicated to cartoons he drew under his alias, A. Redfield, for left-wing publications during the 1930s, along with a PDF down-loadable chapter- “Syd Hoff – A.Redfield…Two Sides of the Same Coin.”

It is my intention to honor Syd’s legacy by having this website become a ‘living’ book - easy to update and expand – and one that anyone can locate. Please pass the word along to others and help me celebrate one of our country’s most prolific cartoonists and beloved children’s authors.


Carol…. Syd’s niece

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Stop Mickey Mousing around...


It's been a month, that's 30-days in cartoonist speak, and Paul's getting wild. We need examples of your incredible artwork for the Disney Toonfest and we need it now! Come on gang, it's not that tough. You've done it before. The Toonfest needs our support.
So far only five members have sent art. You have the details of what we're looking for.

This time it's even easier. Just EMAIL 2 or 3 electronic files to Paul Fell at (or me, that we can print off (color or black and white; 300 dpi would be preferred) or PACK UP 2 or 3 originals (matted or mounted, please) and get them off to the Toonfest office.

Disney Toonfest
207 Main Street USA
Marceline MO 64658


And, as always, the Toonfest will pay to return all mailed artwork (back to you).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An infestation at the Comic-Con

It took a while, but the UNDERCOVER COCKROACH comic book is now printed and made its debut at the 2012 Comic-Con International last weekend. No, I didn't go this year. Shea Butler took a stack of the comic books with her to San Diego and made the rounds. She sent me my copies along with a new t-shirt and one of the super-size bags from the Con. She's so sweet. :-)
Now we'll see if the comic leads to an animated series or a series of animated shorts.
Thanks Shea and Cheryl for the opportunity to create this book. It's been a ton of fun!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fall Chapter Meeting HEADS UP!!!

When making your hotel reservations, SOONER works much better than later.
Ken just informed me that Augustana College is holding their homecoming the same weekend as our fall meeting.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

STAY TOONED! needs your help...

Hey gang,

John Read is 19 votes away from qualifying for his grant to keep STAY TOONED magazine afloat. If you like the magazine, sign on to John's LinkedIN page and cast your vote. The voting part is the hardest part...

When you get to the MISSION: Small Business page, under LOG IN WITH FACEBOOK TO SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY there's a link that reads "Log In With Facebook". Click on that. That will take you to the VOTE LOCAL! page.

At the bottom fill in the BUSINESS NAME box with the name that John gave you: STAY TOONED! MAGAZINE. (Don't forget the ! or it won't work).

Next select John's state: Mississippi and his city: Madison.

Then hit the search button and VOTE. That's it.

You know what a big promoter of cartooning John has been over the years. Now its our turn to help him out. Come on and lend a hand!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Union of Concerned Scientists Cartoon Contest

I received this email on June 20.

I’m reaching out to you personally to let you know that the Union of Concerned Scientists just announced our annual editorial cartoon contest. This year, we are once again opening up the contest to submissions from the public - and we are looking forward to some fantastic entries.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.
On issues from air quality to global warming, government science is being censored, manipulated, and distorted on an unprecedented scale. Scientists and citizens alike have helped UCS put the issue of political interference in science squarely on the public agenda. Now here's your chance to show off your artistic and comedic talents in support of independent science.

We here at UCS believe that your chapter possesses the talent to produce great work, and would love for you to submit work for our calendar cartoon contest. Winners of this year's contest will receive cash prizes of $500-1000, as well as a spot in our calendar which will feature the winning cartoons. For more information, please see the contest website.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Looking forward to seeing your work,
Manny Perez
Union of Concerned Scientists

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fall 2012 Chapter Meeting — what you've been waiting for

Mark your calendars and get your credit cards ready folks. Hot off the presses, here’s the schedule and lodging information for the Fall 2012 NCS Chapter Meeting of the North Central Chapter.

Meeting Dates — Oct 5, 6

The theme of the meeting is “The Art of Editorial Cartoons in An Election Year.”

Friday, Oct 5
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Editorial Cartoon session
Location: Downtown Public Library, conference room.

The session is open to the public as well as college and high school students interested in art, political science, and/or politics.

Panel will include:
• Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper representative
• Paul Fell
• Ed Fischer
• Jeff Koterba

That evening – 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Welcome and reception for Editorial Cartoon exhibit and cartoonists.
Location: Augustana College, new art gallery

7:30 – 9:00 pm
Special guest speaker: Ann Telnaes, Pulitzer Prize winner and editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post.
Location: Little Theatre on the Augustana Campus.
Interviewer: Joel Johnson, professor of political science at Augustana College.

9:00 – ??
Wind down the evening with light dining and refreshments hosted by Jackie D. Beilke, local cartoonist and art teacher.
Location: The Beilke home. Address to be announced.

Saturday, Oct. 6
Gather for breakfast at the hotel
9:30 – 10:30 am
NCS Chapter meeting, NCS members only.
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Meet ‘n Greet at public autograph signing
Location: Zanbroz Bookstore, downtown Sioux Falls (walking distance from the Holiday Inn).
Let Ken Alvine know before September 15 if you have a book or books you wish to sell and promote.

1:00 – 2:00 pm

Downtown Public Library; Conference Room
2:00 – 3:15 pm
Jim Allen – Toon Ed and Cartoon Education Programs in schools, libraries, and colleges

3:30 – 4:45 pm
Kelly McNutt – Animation

Saturday evening
Buffet dinner
Location: the home of Chris and Carrolle Browne
Directions and convoy will be provided.


Holiday Inn Sioux Falls-City Centre
100 West 8th Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57104

Room rate: $94 for two Queen beds or one King
Contact info: Call 605-339-2000 or 1-800-Holiday (465-4329)
or 1-800-315-2621.
Be sure to mention the National Cartoonist Society when you call.
Cut off date for this special room rate is September 11, 2012.

If you book reservations at the Holiday Inn Sioux Falls-City Centre, you have to call the City Centre front desk (605-339-2000) to get the NCS North Central Chapter Cartoonists special rate! Call soon as Augustana College is hosting their homecoming the same weekend as our meeting. Good for us (book sales, attendance, etc.) but lousy if you delay in booking a room.


Country Inn and Suites
200 East 8th Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57103
(One block from the Holiday Inn City Center)
Room rate: $99
Includes breakfast
Contact info: Call 605-373-0153 or 1-800-456-4000 or 1-800-830-5222. Be sure to mention the National Cartoonist Society when you call.

Cut off date for this special room rate is Oct 4.

SPECIAL NOTE: We are asking for a $15 fee to cover some of the "extras." Hope you don't mind. Bring cash or a check and Paul Fell will take care of you. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

STAYTOONED needs our help!

Got an email via Facebook from John Read — he's applying for a grant and needs our help with a YES vote. Login on Facebook then just follow the steps. Be sure that you include the ! in "Stay Tooned! Magazine", otherwise it won't recognize the name.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New York Comic-Con

One of the biggies, the New York Comic-Con is coming up, right after our Fall Chapter Meeting. In case you're interested... :-)

Fall Chapter Meeting — October 5-6

Ken Alvine is putting together a schedule of events and activities as well as hotel information and rates. As soon as I get the info from Ken I'll post it here and send an email to the membership. If you would, please share the information with your friends who are cartoon fans and would be interested in attending. Other than a couple of super double top secret meetings for NCS members only, just about everything else is open to friends, family, and fans. They pay their own way, of course (because we missed out on the Facebook bailout fund), but we want 'em! :-) Remember, our guest speaker is Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, Ann Telnaes.

NCS/SCCS Comic-Con Party!

If you're headed to San Diego next month for the Comic-Con International, be advised that the NCS/SCCS is hosting a Comic-Con Party and you're invited. Thursday, July 12 7:30 - 10:30 pm $15 cover (Drinks extra) Buster's Beach House 807 Harbor Drive (walking distance from the Convention Center). (Go out the back of the Center, turn right on the boardwalk, go 1/4 mile and get ready to party.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What happens in Vegas…

It has been said far too many times to recall that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. While there can be no doubt that circumstances have called for such drastic measures to be employed, this year’s Reuben Awards must be the exception. What happened in Vegas, over the 2012 Memorial Day weekend, surely cannot be suppressed. The membership of the NCS began flocking to Sin City to make their way to the wonderful Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa in beautiful Henderson, NV. To my shock and surprise, McCarran International Airport wasn’t the same as when I last left it. Holy Schmidt!! The thing grew! When I’d make my semi-regular journey west the airline would make a brief stop at either Sky Harbor Airport (Phoenix) or McCarran International. Sky Harbor is too beige and it takes GPS and Rin Tin Tin to find the men’s room in that place. Yuck! My preference was McCarran because it was not too big and I had no trouble finding the Starbuck’s without needing a tour guide and provisions for a long haul. Simple. But now… I mean Holy Schmidt The place is gigantic and looks like something from The Strip. Guess I’m going to have to employ the guide dog services of Rin Tin Tin again. ARGH! Progress sucks, but I digress. The North Central Chapter had a pretty fair turnout for the Reubens. Upon arrival on Thursday, at 7:00 a.m., the first thing on my mind was a nap. Paul and Arlene Fell offered to drive to Omaha and we could fly together. Our flight out was 6:00 a.m. — Paul said, “We’ll be by at 3:30 to pick you up.” That mean I had to get up at 2:30 in order to be ready, alert (NOT), and semi-functional. Before long we were wheeling our way towards Omaha and the Southwest Airlines counter. If you haven’t flown Southwest out of Omaha before, the check in line can reach as far as Atlantic, Iowa some mornings. This time was no exception. Once through TSA’s cheery pat-down, strip search, body scans all in the interest of protecting us Americans from some body’s 92 year old grandmother who might be harboring ill-will toward the US or cartoonists, we boarded our flight and we were off. One hour later (actually 2:17 allowing for the time change), we made our way over the tundra of McCarran to Level Zero where the Green Valley Ranch shuttle bus would pick us up. Our driver pulled up, only a few minutes late due to excessive traffic, we stuff our bags into the Mercedes shuttle bus (classy, huh?) and headed toward this little oasis on the desert. While the wi-fi sucked from the get-go, everything else was fantastic. Fell’s proclaimed the need for a nap after we had breakfast in the Grand Café. I discovered why they call it the Grand Café when I offered to pick up the check for the three of us. There goes my gambling money. So I've unpacked, hung up the tux and got settled into my room. I’m lying on the bed trying to take a nap at 9:00 in the morning when it hits me — “I’m in Vegas! What the hell am I doing taking a nap? I can nap when I’m dead.” Next stop, the pool area. A quick visual survey of the pool area and I began building the unofficial NCS nest right next to the bar. And then there was the bar staff…. ☺ Once we were settled, medicated, and situated, we hooked up with other NCS members to help stuff goodie bags. John Hambrock lent his stacking and organizational skills to the effort by loading the carts with mountains of this year’s stylish bags. Atta boy, John! Thursday evening we partied by the pool. It’s always great seeing friends with whom we only email or are fortunate enough to talk with on the phone. Phone? Phone? What’s that? Now, we’re partying together at a beautiful resort in Las Vegas. Life is good! The weekend was filled with panel discussions, individual presentations, and a chance to see and meet legendary cartoonists like Ray Billingsley who talked about his career and his syndicated strip Curtis, Jim Davis share his trials and tribulations with a cat named Garfield, Gold Key recipient Stan Goldberg talked about his incredible career with Timely, Marvel, Archie, and so much more. There were panel discussions featuring Michael Jantze, Dave Kellett, and John Lotshaw talking technology and business. Mark Simon does a one-man presentation on maximizing your advertising and PR dollars. Butch Hartman talked about his animation work at Nickelodeon. On Sunday was a day of MADness with a presentation and panel on 60 years of MAD magazine that included MAD editor Nick Meglin, and featured Sam Viviano, Jack Davis, Sergio Aragonés, Don “Duck” Edwing, Al Jaffee, Ray Alma, and North Central member, NCS President, and this year’s Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year winner and a personal friend of mine, Tom Richmond. Master of Ceremonies for the Awards banquet was the one-and-only Tom Gammill. While the sound system could have used a good tweaking, Tom was in fine form. He was interrupted here and there by Elvis, but hey, that’s Vegas. Awards were presented to a bunch of folks. I’d mention them all but just go to the NCS site to see them for yourself. It was a truly great weekend. Between the resort, the pool-side bar babes, shopping and dining in The District, the pool-side bar babes, getting together with great friends, the parties, and all the fun, it was one Reuben Weekend not soon to be forgotten. Did I mention the pool-side bar babes? See you next year in Pittsburgh! ☺ In the meantime, the North Central will be preparing for the Disney Toonfest in September and our Fall Meeting in Sioux Falls in October. You can see more at our blog site: (scroll down, past the photos) Apologizes on some of these photos as they were taken with my iPhone. Semi-good...