The National Cartoonists Society is the world's largest organization of professional cartoonists. It presents the Reuben Awards.
The NCS was born in 1946 when groups of cartoonists got together to entertain the troops. They found that they enjoyed each other's company and decided to get together on a regular basis.
Today, the NCS membership roster includes over 500 of the world's major cartoonists, working in many branches of the profession, including newspaper comic strips and panels, comic books, editorial cartoons, animation, gag cartoons, greeting cards, advertising, magazine and book illustration and more.
Membership is limited to established professional cartoonists, with a few exceptions of outstanding persons in affiliated fields. The NCS is not a guild or labor union.
The NCS's stated primary purposes are: "to advance the ideals and standards of professional cartooning in its many forms", "to promote and foster a social, cultural and intellectual interchange among professional cartoonists of all types", and "to stimulate and encourage interest in and acceptance of the art of cartooning by aspiring cartoonists, students and the general public. In 2005 it formed a Foundation to continue the charitable works of its fund for indigent cartoonists, the Milt Gross Fund.
The Society's offices are in Winter Park, Florida. In addition, the NCS has chartered 16 regional chapters throughout the United States and one in Canada. Chapter Chairpersons sit on the NCS Regional Council and are represented by a National Representative, who is a voting member of the Board of Directors.
In 2008, NCS joined over 60 other art licensing businesses (including the Artists Rights Society, Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the Stock Artists Alliance, Illustrator's Partnership of America and the Advertising Photographers of America, among others) in opposing both The Orphan Works Act of 2008 and The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 Known collectively as " Artists United Against the U.S. Orphan Works Acts", the diverse organizations joined forces to oppose the bills, which the groups believe "permits, and even encourages, wide-scale infringements while depriving creators of protections currently available under the Copyright Act."
The Reuben Awards
The National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Awards Weekend is a gala annual event which takes place at a site selected by the President. There, during the formal, black-tie banquet evening, the Reuben Award (a statuette designed by and named after the NCS' first president, Rube Goldberg) is presented to the "Cartoonist of the Year."
Cartoonists in various professional divisions are also honored with special plaques for excellence. These awards are voted on by a combination of the general membership (by secret ballot) and specially-formed juries overseen by various NCS Regional Chapters. A cartoonist does not need to be a member of the NCS to receive one of the Society's awards.
Prior to 1983, the Reuben Awards Dinner was held in New York City, usually at the Plaza. Since then, the event has expanded into a full weekend and is held in a different city each year. Recent Reuben locations have included New York City; Boca Raton, Florida; San Francisco, California; Cancún, Mexico and Kansas City, Missouri.
Each year, during the NCS Annual Reuben Awards Weekend, the Society honors the year's outstanding achievements in all walks of the profession.
Excellence in the fields of newspaper strips, newspaper panels, TV animation, feature animation, newspaper illustration, gag cartoons, book illustration, greeting cards, comic books, magazine feature/magazine illustration, and editorial cartoons, is honored in the NCS Division Awards, which are chosen by specially-convened juries at the chapter level.
Cartoonist of the Year
The recipient of the profession's highest honor, the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year is chosen by a secret ballot of the members.
- 1946: Milton Caniff, Terry and the Pirates
- 1947: Al Capp, Li'l Abner
- 1948: Chic Young, Blondie
- 1949: Alex Raymond, Rip Kirby
- 1950: Roy Crane, Buz Sawyer
- 1951: Walt Kelly, Pogo
- 1952: Hank Ketcham, Dennis the Menace
- 1953: Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey
- 1954: Willard Mullin, Sports
- 1955: Charles Schulz, Peanuts
- 1956: Herbert L. Block (Herblock), Editorial
- 1957: Hal Foster, Prince Valiant
- 1958: Frank King, Gasoline Alley
- 1959: Chester Gould, Dick Tracy
- 1960: Ronald Searle, Advertising and Illustration
- 1961: Bill Mauldin Editorial
- 1962: Dik Browne, Hi and Lois
- 1963: Fred Lasswell, Barney Google
- 1964: Charles Schulz, Peanuts
- 1965: Leonard Starr, Mary Perkins, On Stage
- 1966: Otto Soglow, The Little King
- 1967: Rube Goldberg, Humor in Sculpture
- 1968: Pat Oliphant, Editorial
- 1968: Johnny Hart, B.C. and The Wizard of Id
- 1969: Walter Berndt, Smitty
- 1970: Alfred Andriola, Kerry Drake
- 1971: Milton Caniff, Steve Canyon
- 1972: Pat Oliphant, Editorial
- 1973: Dik Browne, Hagar the Horrible
- 1974: Dick Moores, Gasoline Alley
- 1975: Bob Dunn, They'll Do It Every Time
- 1976: Ernie Bushmiller, Nancy
- 1977: Chester Gould, Dick Tracy
- 1978: Jeff MacNelly, Editorial
- 1979: Jeff MacNelly, Shoe
- 1980: Charles Saxon, Advertising
- 1981: Mel Lazarus, Miss Peach and Momma
- 1982: Bil Keane, Family Circus
- 1983: Arnold Roth, Advertising
- 1984: Brant Parker, The Wizard of Id
- 1985: Lynn Johnston, For Better or For Worse
- 1986: Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
- 1987: Mort Drucker, Mad Magazine
- 1988: Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
- 1989: Jim Davis, Garfield
- 1990: Gary Larson, The Far Side
- 1991: Mike Peters, Mother Goose & Grimm
- 1992: Cathy Guisewite, Cathy
- 1993: Jim Borgman, Editorial
- 1994: Gary Larson, The Far Side
- 1995: Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury
- 1996: Sergio Aragones, Mad Magazine
- 1997: Scott Adams, Dilbert
- 1998: Will Eisner, The Spirit
- 1999: Patrick McDonnell, Mutts
- 2000: Jack Davis, Mad Magazine
- 2001: Jerry Scott, Zits and Baby Blues
- 2002: Matt Groening, The Simpsons
- 2003: Greg Evans, Luann
- 2004: Pat Brady, Rose Is Rose
- 2005: Mike Luckovich, editorial cartoonist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- 2006: Bill Amend, FoxTrot
- 2007: '
- 2008: Al Jaffee, Mad Magazine
Ace (Amateur Cartoonist Extraordinary) Award
Advertising Illustration Award
From its inception until 1975 this award was known as the Advertising and Illustration award. The following year, it divided into two separate categories. Advertising and Illustration, combining again from 1982 to 1985. They divided again in 1986. This category was titled Commercial in 1989 and 1990.
In 1989 and 1990, the category was titled Electronic Media. In 1995, it was divided into Feature Animation and Television Animation.
Feature Animation Award
Television Animation Award
Award of Honor
This award was for recognition of the American cartoon as an instrument in war, peace, education and in the artistic betterment of our cultural environment. On September 22, 1965, the following were honored:
Book Illustration Award
Comic Books Award
In 1970, the Comic Books Award was divided into Humor Comic Books and Story Comic Books. They were merged back together in 1982. In 1989 and 1990, the Comic Books award was merged with the Magazine and Book Illustration Award. It was separated back into its own award in 1991.
Editorial Cartoons Award
Gag Cartoon Award
Gold Key Award (National Cartoonists Society Hall of Fame)
Greeting Cards Award
Magazine Feature and Magazine Illustration Award
This award, which was originally Titled Illustration, was separated from the Advertising and Illustration Award from 1976 to 1981. It then became permanently separated in 1986. The award name changed to Magazine and Book Illustration in 1989, and then changed to the current name in 2003.
Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award
The Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by unanimous vote of the NCS Board of Directors.
Newspaper Illustration Award
Newspaper Comic Strips
The Newspaper Comic Strips (Humor) Category was created in 1957. In 1960, it was joined by the Newspaper Comic Strips (Story) Category. In 1989 the two categories were combined. Also, in 1989 and 1990, Newspaper Panel Cartoon was part of this category.
Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award
Gold T-Square Award
The Gold T-Square is awarded for 50 years as professional cartoonist.
Silver T-Square Award
The Silver T-Square is awarded, by unanimous vote of the NCS Board of Directors, to persons who have demonstrated outstanding dedication or service to the Society or the profession.
Elzie Segar Award
This award is presented to a person who has made a unique and outstanding contribution to the profession of cartooning.
The winner was selected by the NCS Board and later by King Features Syndicate, in honor of "Popeye" creator, Elzie Segar
New Media Award
No. 1 (Sports Personality of the Year) Awards
Special Features Award
- 1965 Jerry Robinson, Flubs and Fluffs
- 1966 Hal Foster, Prince Valiant
- 1967 Hal Foster, Prince Valiant
- 1968 Bruce Stark, Stark Impressions
- 1969 Chon Day, Brother Sebastian
- 1970 Jim Berry, Berry's World
- 1971 Al Jaffee, Mad Fold-Ins
- 1972 Jim Berry, Berry at the Democratic Convention
- 1973 Frank Fogarty, Illuminated Scrolls
- 1974 Burne Hogarth, Jungle Tales of Tarzan
- 1975 Al Jaffee, Snappy Answers to
- 1976 Bil Keane, Channel Chuckles
- 1977 Sergio Aragones, Mad Magazine
- 1978 Jud Hurd, Health Capsules
- 1979 Arnold Roth, Humorous Illustration
- 1980 Sam Norkin, Theatrical Caricature
- 1981 Don Martin, Mad Magazine
- 1982 Don Martin, Mad Magazine
- 1983 Al Kilgore. Elvis the Paper Doll Book
- 1984 Kevin McVey, Theatrical Caricature
- 1985 Mort Drucker, Mad Magazine
- 1986 Mort Drucker, Mad Magazine
- 1987 Mort Drucker, Mad Magazine
- 1988 Mort Drucker, Mad Magazine
Sports Cartoons Award
In popular culture
The 2008 science fiction novelette The Last of the Funnies
by Mike Cope pays homage to characters, people, and organizations tied to comic strips -- including The Yellow Kid
, Rube Goldberg
, Joseph Pulitzer
, William Randolph Hearst
, and the National Cartoonists Society
(NCS). The Society's prestigious Reuben Award is also described in detail and is revealed to be the source of a magical Rube Goldberg machine
. The book also makes reference to The Orphan Works Act of 2008.