Having a special guest attendance opportunity at the annual Southeast Regional chapter meeting for the National Cartoonists Society was insightful and informative. SCAD Sequential Art department chair Anthony Fisher gave a brief presentation on the program (pictured above), one goal of which is to be the "Harvard of comics." There's even a couple Fulbright students in the graduate program now, but thankfully as of yet there's still no cartoonist frats.
The regional NCS group has open, monthly meetings where members (and any interested parties who are always welcome to attend), and covers a wide geographical area across seven states and from such diverse areas as Raleigh, Ashville, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis and Charlotte. Also on hand was the current president of the NCS, Tom Richmond, as well as the chair of the Florida chapter. All kinds of media are represented, from cartoonists, and comic book artists, to animators and illustrators. They will pass around samples of current pieces, work-in-progress, get feedback,
gossip share industry news, do demos and organize special events in the community. Two of these that I found particularly nice were cartoonists making the rounds at Ronald McDonald Houses and VA hospitals - an exceptional idea that I'll definitely incorporate into the next group of local cartoonists that gather wherever I end up (again).
There were the usual housekeeping-in-order details, such as taking roll call, budgetary items, updates, new members, new business etc. The couple dozen attendees had some varied input on a wide range of topics, such as coming up with a functional definition of what would constitute membership for a web-based cartoonist. Such distinctions are interesting and provoke much heated debate, and to their credit they strive to be inclusive. I know from a personal perspective that the sole determination for membership in the NCS - that the majority of one's income must be derived from cartooning - is certainly understandable, but unfortunately restrictive in the sense that a practicing cartoonist who sometimes does and sometimes doesn't meet that financial threshold doesn't get to join the club or play in the sandbox with the other kids. But being a cartoonist sometimes means just not belonging, sadly even amongst other cartoonists, another hallmark of
Still this is definitely a worthwhile organization to support, and the folks who are involved are all friendly, welcoming and mutually supportive of the field, and they do good things in their respective careers and communities, and these meetings provide for some fabulous networking opportunities (and yeah, there are plenty of laughs). It was one of the many events over the SCAD MAD MAD MAD weekend which rounded out an awesome experience, and appreciate them allowing the riffraff to infiltrate!