NCS Chicago Midwest Chapter Newsletter – Spring, 2023
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.
*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).
March 31-April 2, 2023
McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
TBA – 2023
April 17, 19 & 20, 2023
Focus on the Arts
Highland Park High School
July 20-23, 2023
San Diego Comic Con
We recently heard from Gary’s son that his dad passed away peacefully of natural causes on March 1, 2023 at the age of 92. Gary kept his strong opinions and bold cartooning style to the end, drawing many satirical cartoons and graphic illustrations in recent years on topics he felt needed attention in the crazy political environment we all see around us today.
He loved to get a rise out of people by posting his cartoons both in his residence and online and had a great sense of humor and a distinctive laugh.
Many of his cartoons can be found in his gallery on our NCS Chicago Midwest chapter website.
In the photo above, Gary is holding a big birthday card the chapter made for him in honor of his 84th birthday. It depicts a pizza delivery driver carrying an open box that holds a Chicago deep-dish birthday pizza…with lots and lots (and lots) of lit candles. Unfortunately, the many candles have set everything on fire. Each cartoonist added their own smaller sketch around it with more birthday wishes for him. He loved the cartoon card, so he had it framed and hung it proudly on his studio wall.
We will miss his positive point of view and his fearlessness and his prolific output at a time in his life and career when many cartoonists might have capped their pen for good. He will always be an inspiration to our chapter and our longtime friend and cartoon colleague.
Cartoonery will go on! Gary wouldn’t have it any other way.
(From an interview with our past chapter chair, T. Brian Kelly)
Editor: Hi Gary! Glad you had a chance to stop by and share some of your cartooning secrets with us. The cartoonists here have always have wondered about something. You often refer to the term “Cartoonery” in your correspondence with the chapter here in Chicago. We looked in our vast collection of books and online and just couldn’t find it anywhere. What is your definition of that term?
Gary Adamson: You’ve never heard of it? The word “Cartoonery” is in the Adamson abridged dictionary under the letter “C” which circulates throughout the Gary Adamson Archive. Everyone knows that, of course. Cartoonery is a pretty simple concept in my mind. It means a light-hearted collection of visual stuff. For at least half a century, my mind has been filled with images gathered daily from all different sorts of media.
What We’re Working On
T. Brian Kelly
It’s been a while since I posted anything or contacted our chapter gang, so I thought it would be a good idea to drop you all a line or two from my current whereabouts. I write these words from a leafy apartment in the Brookline neighborhood of Boston, MA where my wife Wendy and I now live after selling our house in St. Charles and moving here late last year. She has been here since September and currently has a great job at Boston University as the executive vice-president and associate provost of digital education. She is putting together a new online program called “BU Virtual” bringing the infrastructure of a digital learning experience to all the course offerings at the university. We are spending a lot of time on weekends trying to find a house to buy, but it has been proving a bit difficult. There are not a lot of houses on the market at this time of the year, and the ones that are available are a bit expensive, compared to what we had before in Illinois. Our 13yr old Wheaten terrier mix Clyde is with us for moral support and treats and regular walks in the city.
I am still drawing my regular weekly cartoon for the Piedmont Post from a spare bedroom in our apartment. If you are unfamiliar with this work I do, the cartoons are only occasionally “editorial” cartoons. They often simply function in the print newspaper as community-based cartoon illustrations of goings on in the town of Piedmont, CA, which is located in the hills above Oakland in the East Bay region across the bay from San Francisco.
In October of 2022, I began work on the 25th year of doing these local community cartoons. I believe I’ve had a cartoon in every issue of the Post since 1998 and I’m proud to say that it’s still going strong as a small circulation weekly publication in this challenging time for print journalism. I include a few examples below, so you can see what they look like. I’m trying to figure out what else I might try at this point in my career, since the new city and environment are an exciting fresh start after the long, frustrating restrictions of the pandemic years just past.
I’ll let you know once I find it! Hope all is well with you and that your lives and work are keeping you happy and healthy.
Cartooning 320-1 is one of my assigned classes at Columbia College this spring, starting on 1/24. Also, in the illustration program I’ll be assigning a Pritzker Military Museum and Library propaganda poster competition for the students which will be juried by Ivan Brunetti and a Pritzker committee at the end of February.
While Chicago media pundit/storyteller Studs Terkel was still alive, I was assigned by the page editor at the Chicago Sun-Times to attend a press briefing with Studs at the Harold Washington Library. While the reporters interviewed Studs, I was busy sketching him. It is the tradition at major newspapers to prepare an obituary for notable people in anticipation of their demise. In this instance, I observed a very vital Studs Terkel holding court with the Chicago press.
Continuing my career(s) as a digital caricaturist and a multi-media artist. I draw caricatures at events and trade shows nationwide. Engaging, personable, and witty, I am quick to strike up a rapport with my subjects to put them at ease. Drawing caricatures at events makes me feel so fortunate because I meet people from all over the world and make them laugh.
Most recently, I am creating a digital multimedia installation comprised of animation, my own music score, and digitally designed acrylic sculptures. The sculptures appear 3D due to the wireframe design and sound responsive LED lights.
I also work part-time at various hospitals and cancer care facilities, providing healing arts and craft projects for oncology outpatients and their families through the Caring Arts Foundation.
Working on my 2 ongoing comic strips, “94 South” which appears in the Crestwood, IL Adviser and “Wrench” which appears in the Chief Engineer Magazine.
Also, shovelling a lot of snow.
Though best known for my work on The Simpsons, X-Men, and Fables, I’ve launched my own publishing imprint, Spicy Tomato Studios, recently releasing the first new “The Adventures of Simone & Ajax” book in 12 years, titled “Lemmings and Tigers and Bears! Oh, My!” It’s a 128-page, color hardcover with three fun, all-new adventures. More info can be found at www.pepoy.com, and the book can be ordered at https://bit.ly/simoneandajaxgogo. I’m also currently drawing an adaptation of George MacDonald’s “Phantastes” for Cave Pictures Publishing and drawing/inking other comics for Power Comics, Heroic Publishing, and more.
Check out my pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Hive for the latest news.
I just wrapped up my 16th official Fold-In for MAD and self-published a zine of existential cartoons called “IT’S HARD TO SAY WHAT SHAPE I’M IN”, available on my website.