Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reuben Awards! Aftermath...

I had the pleasure of heading to Boston last week to attend the 2011 Reuben Awards. The Reubens are in their 65th year and are the night of nights for the National Cartoonists Society of America. I wasn't sure what to expect but I sure as hell wasn't disappointed.

I the train into Boston from NYC on the Friday morning, looking to meet up with fellow Australian cartoonists Jason Chatfield (ACA President/Ginger Meggs) and Anton Emdin (Reuben Nominee 2010/11). A quick phone call at 12pm found Jas and Anton just waking up and looking to explore Boston. I headed down to the Fairmont Copley Place, the venue of the Reubens, and caught up with an excited Anton and a very jet lagged Mr Chatfield.

We registered for the conference bumped into Chad and Karen Carpenter (Tundra – who would later tackle a criminal to the ground outside the hotel) and then headed out. Immediately over lunch we were chatting about who is attending this year and how many famous cartoonists we can meet. After getting refused a beer because I didn't look over 21 (which makes Chatfield 10), I skipped out on the tip and we went to get Jason fitted for his tuxedo.

I managed to fit in a conference session in the afternoon, learning about the growth of web comics and the revenue streams to be had...and how hard it is to come by. Then it was back to my hotel for a change of clothes and a quick beer (of which I sampled many).

Friday night is traditionally the meet and greet cocktail evening followed by karaoke (more on that later) I strolled in a fashionable 20 minutes late to see Jason and Anton propping up a table with some of the Reuben Regulars Sean Parkes, John Kovaleski (Bo Nanas, MAD) and Jenny Robb. Introductions were done and a quick bonding session between Sean and myself was had as we managed to carry four beers each to the table as the free bar closed. We were thick as thieves from then on!

Not long after a bearded gentleman sauntered over to our table and was introduced to us as David Silverman. As Chatfield wet himself I had a little mental blank until my brain put into context who I was meeting. David Silverman (architect of The Simpsons, Monsters Inc., Robots, etc.).

He couldn't have been nicer and would become a staunch supporter of late night debauchery for the remainder of the weekend. I was introduced to Adrian Sinnott, Daryl Cagle, and saw Stan Goldberg and Tom Richmond floating around. Not a bad start to the night.

We then moved on over to the next room where the Karaoke was well under way. Sean Parkes convinced us to sing either Midnight Oil or ACDC if they were on the list, fortunately for all involved they weren't, But that didn't stop Jason belting out a Sinatra classic and the NCS board singing their traditional anthem 'All We Need is Love.” Anton chewed the fat with illustrating legend Roy Doty, while I listened to Sam Viviano (MAD) and Mike Lynch serenade the cheering crowd.

We ended up in the Presidential suite discussing the finer points of world diplomacy and drawing Jason and my ongoing (wine induced) character “Dick Eyes”. It was his international debut and was reviewed positively by syndicate bigwigs, although his marketability was put into question. As the night wound down, Anton and I hid the drawing of ol' dick eyes somewhere in the suite and headed to bed.

Saturday was known to me in two stages 4am and then later at 1pm as I woke up. I managed to listen to Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) discuss the development of his world dominating cartoon with the help of a giant American coffee while Jason and Anton slept until mid afternoon. I decided to explore Boston and ended up with a New England lobster for lunch and then headed to Cheers to quench my thirst. Not too shabby...

I then borrowed Jason's spare bow tie and headed to my room to attempt to iron my shirt, ready for the Reuben Awards. Several hours later I was looking sharp enough to head down to the Fairmont's ballroom for the night's festivities. The pre dinner drinks were held to the side of the ballroom and the room contained all of the nominated artwork. A quick look around saw the nominated Anton was in good company, but by no means out of his depth. It could be a good night...

The Aussie contingent sat down at table 20 with Michael McParlane (Reuben Winner 2011) and his wife Katie, that Silverman guy again, Daryl Cagle and Michael Kandalaft (That Monkey Tune). We enjoyed an meal of lettuce and were wowed by the subtle opening sequence by Tom Gammill (writer for SNL, The Simpsons, Seinfeld) including dancing girls, baton twirling, and streamers.

As the meal ended, the booze dried up and the awards started to be given out. Anton discussed whether it was better to know you're nominated like at the Reubens or be surprised on the night like at the Stanleys. I spat in his dessert.

Keeping his composure for his first category, Anton missed out on the prize and now had an excruciating wait until his next category came up. As his nomination was read he seemed calm, the table had already had one winner and he didn't think this was his night, up against Tom Richmond among others.

As his name was called out, Anton's head fell to his hands and he had to find his way up to the stage to be the first Australian to ever win a Reuben award. His gracious speech was well received and a proud David Silverman took our table number and added “Two Winners Here” identifying us as the table to beat.

More amazing work and Tom Gammill MC'ing closed out the night and a standing ovation met Richard Thomson (Cul de Sac) for the night's big honour. We then headed to the Oak Room for the after party and shared drinks with cartooning royalty until the next morning when the complaints from the hotel became serious.

Sunday was the opening of the One Fine Sunday Exhibit. A collection of original Sunday strips from some of the best cartoonists in the world, and Chatfield. A miscalculated trip to Harvard University meant that I missed the opening but from all accounts it was a great success, with many cartoonists doodling for fans and Anton being approached for some sketches even though he was more often asked who he actually was...

The Sunday night dinner was a less formal affair and I found myself seated at a table with The rather tired looking Australian contingent, David Silverman, Sean Parkes, Rick Stromoski (Soup to Nuts). As the night progressed the karaoke came on again and our table became the place to be for snide remarks, loud outbursts, and dirty jokes thanks to Daryl Cagle, Stromoski and Hustler's Dan Collins. I wouldn't have had it any other way...

The night continued onto scotch drinking in the Oak Room, putting drinks on Universal's tab and chatting the night away in the presidential suite until the wee hours. It would've been the perfect end to the night except for my 6am train the next morning...

Will I be back. You'd better believe it.

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