By: Dave Astor
“FoxTrot” creator Bill Amend won the National Cartoonists Society’s (NCS) 61st Annual Reuben Award as cartoonist of the year at a Saturday-night ceremony in Orlando, Fla.
The honor adds to a memorable few months for Amend, who ended the daily version of his 1988-launched comic this winter. He now does a Sunday-only version of the Universal Press Syndicate strip, which stars the Fox family.
“FoxTrot” was one of only about 15 comics with more than 1,000 newspaper clients when its daily version ended. Many cartoonists were grateful to Amend when he chose to lighten his syndication workload, because it freed up
hundreds of newspaper spots for other comics. Usually, widely syndicated cartoonists wanting to devote less time to their comics keep the features going at their usual frequency with the help of assistants.
The other Reuben finalists were Dave Coverly (“Speed Bump”/Creators Syndicate) and Dan Piraro (“Bizarro”/King Features Syndicate).
Winners were also named in 12 newspaper and non-newspaper categories. Here are the newspaper ones:
— Best comic strip cartoonist: Stephan Pastis (“Pearls Before Swine”/United Media).
— Best comic panel cartoonist: Hilary Price (“Rhymes With Orange”/King).
— Best editorial cartoonist: Mike Ramirez (Investor’s Business Daily/Copley News Service).
— Best newspaper illustrator: Laurie Triefeldt (“World of Wonder”/The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J./United).
Two newspaper cartoonists also won non-newspaper categories. The book illustration honoree was Mike Lester, who’s editorial cartoonist for the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune and Cagle Cartoons syndicate. And the greeting card
winner was Carla Ventresca, who also does the Creators-distributed “On a Claire Day” comic with Henry Beckett.
In addition, Carter Goodrich — character designer of the “Open Season” movie — won the animation feature category. “In the Bleachers” cartoonist Steve Moore of Universal helped create that 2006 film.
As previously announced, “Beetle Bailey” creator Mort Walker is the latest NCS Gold Key Award winner. He received that honor Saturday night, putting him in what’s essentially the organization’s hall of fame, said NCS
President Rick Stromoski, who does the “Soup to Nutz” comic for United.
Walker is a longtime NCS member, a past NCS president, and a past Reuben winner. He started “Beetle Bailey” in 1950, and it still runs in more than 1,800 newspapers via King. Walker has also created various other comics,
including “Hi and Lois.” And he’s an author as well as the founder of what’s now known as the National Cartoon Museum.
Among the previous Gold Key recipients were “Terry and the Pirates”/”Steve Canyon” creator Milton Caniff and editorial cartoonist Herbert Block.
And the NCS’s Silver T-Square honor was presented Saturday to Joe and Luke McGarry for their work on the NCS Web site, the Reuben-night video presentation, and other volunteer services to the organization. They are the
sons of NCS Immediate Past President Steve McGarry, who does features such as “KidCity” for United and “Biographic” for Universal.