Ellen Lustig appeared on WGN’s Daytime Chicago and gave a demo of her amazing digital caricatures. Click here to view.

Remembering Al Jaffee

by Tom Richmond

R.C. Harvey

Our feliow NCSer R.C. Harvey has passed away at the age of 85. He was a longtime contributor to The Comics Journal and one of the industry’s most enduring, prodigious and personably provocative commentators on comics culture, passed away July 7 at the age of 85 due to complications from a fall.

“Not Just Another Pretty Face” by R.C. Harvey

The Comics Journal’s R.C. Obit

Johnny Sampson, MAD Magazine’s last idiot standing.

Read the Chicago Reader’s Article >>

Richard Pietrzyk:
A Cartoonist Interview

Read our latest Drawing Interest article.

Check out our Member’s Publications in our New Cartoonist’s Bookshelf!

Welcome to NCS Chicago Midwest

Hello, this is Johnny Sampson, your National Cartoonists Society Chicago-Midwest Chapter Chair, with an official Message from the Chair.

2022 is now in the rear-view mirror, and I’d say it was going well over the speed limit. As quick as it seemed to pass, it was also the year that things started to feel like normal again.

A quick review of 2022 shows we actually did quite a bit: we had a couple of lively Chapter Zoom meetings, juried two Reubens divisions, some of us attended the various NCS Zoom meetings that were a lot of fun, we put on a modest volunteer art camp for Project H.O.O.D., we had an actual in-person Chapter get-together over the summer at Chief O’Neil’s, the Reubens returned (!), and we capped the year off with a memorable chapter meeting at the WNDR Museum.

We’ve welcomed aboard some new members to our Chapter: Tesla Philipson (WI), Jim Allen (IL), Jason Platt (IA), and Brian Ponshock (WI), and welcomed back some members who had a pandemic-induced-membership-lapse– glad to have you all with us! At present, we have 23 Chapter Members in good standing– you’re all pretty good sitting, too!

Looking forward, my goal is to keep things interesting, engaging, and enriching. We will have a mix of both online and in-person meetings, community outreach, and more. I also anticipate more growth, so expect to see some new faces as well as some familiar ones joining the NCS and affiliating with our esteemed chapter.

2022 also marks the introduction of some long-coming changes to the NCS By-laws that better represent what it means to be a cartoonist in the 21st century. These changes have opened the doors to a lot of talented and deserving cartoonists who would not have qualified under the old rules. As these updates to membership requirements rolled out, I couldn’t help but reflect on what membership to the National Cartoonists Society means to me.

I am proud to be a member of this esteemed organization and proud to call you my friends and colleagues. I derive great comfort and inspiration from being in the company of other cartoonists, and that, I feel, is what the NCS is all about. I don’t expect the NCS to boost my status or advance my career– that’s never been its purpose. Membership, to me, means belonging to a community where I know I share a common bond with everyone in the room: we are cartoonists. There’s all kinds of us– even within our own Chapter– we are caricaturists, graphic novelists, political cartoonists, gag cartoonists, indie cartoonists, syndicated cartoonists, and beyond– and despite these wildly different practices of the art, at our core, we all know what it’s like to do what we do better than anyone else.

At the Reubens this year, I heard a quote about cartooning by Berke Breathed* of Bloom County that really stuck with me:

“We’re making a living doing the hard thing.”

No matter what your discipline of cartooning is, it ain’t the easy path in life. Hopefully, you’re making a living. Hopefully, it’s getting less hard to do. Hopefully– and most importantly– you can take comfort knowing that we’re all here for you.


Johnny Sampson

*He wasn’t there, someone quoted him, and maybe he didn’t say that exactly, so don’t quote me on it. Or better yet, maybe just quote me instead? You can just say I read it in a fortune cookie or something. At the Reubens. Cathy Guisewhite was sitting right next to me (that part’s true at least).

Chicago Cartoonists Visit Bill Mauldin and Cultural Center Exhibits

2019 Chicago Cartoonists Exhibit at The Beverly Arts Center

Missed the show in Chicago? Check out the exhibit video.

Our Chicago Midwest chapter of the National  Cartoonists Society (NCS) held its first ever exhibit of cartoon art by chapter members Sept. 15 through Nov. 3, 2019 at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407  W. 111th St., Chicago. The exhibit opened with a reception in the Simmerling Gallery on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The NSC chapter members participating in the exhibit are newspaper  comic strip and comic panel artists, caricaturists, magazine gag cartoonists, editorial cartoonists, humorous illustrators, and other  professionals working in and around Chicago and surrounding states.

“It’s not often that cartoonists emerge from their studios to reach out to  the public, so this is a great opportunity to meet them in person and see  their original work up close,” said Jim McGreal, a member of the NCS  Chicago Midwest Chapter and an organizer of the exhibit. “We have members  who work in nearly all aspects of comic art and cartooning, and we’re  really excited to be a part of this first-ever event.”

In addition to the exhibit of works of NCS cartoonists in the Simmerling  Gallery, an exhibit of works by talented cartooning students from the  Vanderpoel Art Association (Chicago) were on display in the Center’s  Atrium Gallery.

Also in conjunction with the art exhibits, the NCS Chicago Midwest Chapter  hosted a cartooning open house on the weekend following the exhibit  opening. It was held on Saturday, Sept. 21, 12 to 6 p.m., at the  Beverly Arts Center as a featured event of the 6th annual Beverly Art Walk.  The Beverly Arts Center is a trolley stop on the Walk. The open house featured two workshops led by professional cartoonists demonstrating their  cartoon art, and video cartoon presentations with selected artists in the  Center’s Baffes Theatre.

Cover Story

How Chester Gould Created Characters
by Richard Pietrzyk

“Calling all cars!” “Calling all cars!” “Be on the lookout for a person of interest. Description as follows: flat head, hooded eyelids, pug-nosed, fish lips and freckles. Known as Flattop.” A character fitting this description would be hard to miss by the police or by the readers of the Dick Tracy comic strip. Uniquely named characters appearing in exciting, pulse-pounding stories with the stories being the walls on which cartoonist Chester Gould hung his art. Foremost in this display of art were villains whose names fit bizarre images: Pruneface of the weathered, furrowed face; the Brow with a forehead resembling a stairway to evil; the Mole, a subterranean sewer scurrying creature; all boldly drawn as if by a nightmare bound police artist. And nightmares these pen and ink characters caused in the readers of the day.

From where did cartoonist Gould imagine these villains? Many started with a name. While listening to the war news on the radio in 1943, the cartoonist heard that a …”Flattop went down in the Pacific”. The nickname of the World War II aircraft carrier provided the spark for his most famous villain. But from where did the image come? Gould kept no notes, no preliminary sketches, no first drafts. When a character saw print in the newspaper, all character studies were discarded, and when a villain was eliminated by detective Tracy, he also was eliminated from the cartoonist’s mind. Save for the classic villains, Gould had no memory of lesser creations. However, if shown a comic strip featuring a specific character, a story, a memory may materialize.

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