Last Friday, June 13th, the Society of Illustrators hosted the first ever Comic and Cartoon Art Annual Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony. The night was full of friends- both new and old- who braved the torrential downpour and enjoyed some great food and drinks prepared by our very talented Chef Q!
We celebrated the winners with an Awards Ceremony and Presentation and heard some very moving and emotional acceptance speeches. There was a lot of warmth and support in the room, and it felt very special to be there and show our appreciation for comic and cartoon artists.
(pictured above: Ruben Bolling accepting a Gold Medal.)
This year’s Chair, Steven Guarnaccia, began the evening with some beautiful words that we wanted to share with you. I think Steven did a really wonderful job explaining this competition and exhibit, and why it is so important to us:
Greetings and welcome to the first annual awards ceremony for the SOI Comic and Cartoon Art Annual. It’s great to see so many new faces here tonight.
It’s a heady time for comics. They have, of course, long since left the basements and backrooms, and come in from the comics shops. University courses teach them as new forms of literature. Graphic novels, graphic memoirs and other long-form comics are regularly reviewed up front in the book pages of major periodicals, along with the traditional word-based novels and non-fiction, often without being called out as comics in the first place.
This has become so commonplace that it might do well to remember that not so long ago things were not thus. When I recently interviewed Arnold Roth, Al Jaffee and Mort Walker for the National Cartoonists Society, Mort reminisced about the controversy that attended his nomination for membership in the Society of Illustrators. At the time, illustrators looked down their noses at comic strip artists, just as fine artists were looking down their noses at illustrators. In fact, there was an even more finely grained system of prejudices at the time: gag cartoonists looked down on comic strip artists, comic strip artists looked down on comic book artists, and New Yorker cartoonists looked down on everyone.
The truth is, comics and illustration share a long history. Winsor McCay, one of the most illustrative of comics practitioners, was a poster artist and newspaper illustrator of journalistic and humorous subjects before he embarked on “Little Nemo in Slumberland”, the strip that secured his place in the comics pantheon. Crockett Johnson, Garrett Price, VIP, Arnold Roth, among others, kept one foot in each camp over the years.
The increased visual sophistication of contemporary comics is partly due to the incursion of illustrators into the comics field. One positive result of the recent stagnation of commissioned editorial illustration is that illustrators have been forced to look for creative and economic satisfaction beyond magazine and newspaper illustration. Many illustrators initiate their own projects, becoming visual storytellers in the process. The current fields of children’s books, animation and comics are the richer for this.
This, the first Society of Illustrators Comic and Cartoon Art Annual, is not meant to be an exhaustive survey of the field. Rather, it’s a snapshot of a moment. The work came from seasoned professionals and from fresh newcomers. In keeping with the spirit of the Society of Illustrators annual illustration competition, the work was submitted by the artists themselves, as well as by the publishers. This has made for a fresh pool of work to consider, and it introduced the jurors, and the field and public as well, to many terrific little-known artists. Many will surely go on to become future mainstays of comic-dom, just as we hope the Comic and Cartoon Art annual will become an important event on the comics calendar for years to come.
By the way, 40 pieces from the show will travel to colleges, galleries, museums and libraries around the country.
I want to thank the jurors who reviewed the work. They are a veritable who’s who of artists, editors and commentators from the world of comics, and their presence on the jury guaranteed the stature of this competition. You can find all of their illustrious names in the catalog. A note about the jurying: all of the long-form works were sent a month in advance to the jurors of that category, to read. All of the jurors in all of the categories then met in separate sessions here at the Society, over the course of a week, to review the works and discuss them with their fellow jurors. Lively dialogue ensued.
I want to thank Rutu Modan for creating the terrifically bizarre art for the poster, and Tara Jacoby for designing it, and the beautiful catalog of the show.
Special thanks must go to exhibitions director Kate Feirtag, the ever-undaunted, tireless organizer of all things competitions here at the Society. People often say, figuratively, about a colleague, “I couldn’t have done it without them.” But in this case it’s no figure of speech. There were innumerable moving parts in organizing this competition, and I literally could not have chaired this competition without Kate helping and guiding me every step of the way.
As always, a big thanks and hug to Anelle Miller, the director of the Society, who has opened up this place to more new ideas than Pope Francis has the Vatican.
I want to encourage you all to enter next years’ competition, and to spread the word. I’ll be chairing the annual again next year, this time with Bob Sikoryak as co-chair. Bob will then go on to chair the annual with a co-chair of his choosing the following year.
The Society is excited to share with you our latest acquisition to the Permanent Collection. This beautiful Howard Chandler Christy was purchased at the Bonham’s auction.
Like Charles Dana Gibson’s “Gibson Girl”, Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952) is most recognized for his “Christy Girl”, as seen above. These ladies were featured in advertisements, stories, and editorial works for magazines and newspapers, and became the ideal beauty of the late 19th and early 20th century. They were aristocratic and dainty with slim waists, delicate features, and flowing hair. During the Spanish-American War, the “Christy Girl” was used in patriotic posters and helped Christy become a major celebrity of the time.
This piece is titled “Late Night Conversation” and was finished in 1923. The caption reads “two Christy Girls, one in deshabille and one just returned home on the arm of a man.” It was possibly commissioned for a double-page magazine illustration. The piece is charcoal on illustration board.
Howard Chandler Christy became a Member of the Society of Illustrators on January 8th, 1915. He was elected to the Society’s Hall of Fame in 1980. To learn more about this artist click here.
What is the Drawing Academy?
With increasing cuts to art programs, the Society began the Drawing Academy several years ago to allow young students the chance to learn about and create illustrations, comic and cartoon art.
Today we are asking you to help us raise $5000 for the program so we can fund twenty at-risk youth ages 9-13 from the most vulnerable neighborhoods in New York City.
Each student will receive art supplies and will engage with a teaching artist at the Society. Past teachers have included Leslie Cober-Gentry, John Cuneo, Bil Donovan, Jeff Fisher, Stephen Gardner, Victor Juhasz, Ed Murr, George O’Connor, MK Reed, Edel Rodriguez (pictured below), Dave Roman, Ellen Weinstein, and Mark Zeimann, to name a few. They integrate their illustration and comic expertise with the NYS Learning Standards in the Visual Arts to provide students with holistic outcomes-based curriculum.
We also provide nutritious lunches in our amazing third floor Dining Hall!
How You Can Help
Community involvement and support are vital to ensuring that the camp continues. The Society is partnering with the global #GivingTuesday campaign to raise $5k on December 3rd (today!). Our goal is to subsidize the costs of serving 20 at-risk youth in our 2014 Winter/Spring Drawing Academies.
Please help us make the Academy possible by making a tax deductible donation today! Donate online now!
The Society has set up an online auction through Paddle8. All proceeds benefit the acquisition fund of the Museum.
or this one by Paula Scher titled Silent Night, 1988.
or even this one by Maurice Sendak titled Mother Goose, 1990!
And for those who are interested, UPPERCASE Magazine has created a fantastic sneak peek of our Permanent Collection. Thank you to Janine Vangool for her help with judging the Illustrators 56 competition and creating this great video!
The Original Art Travel show is currently on display at the South Dakota Art Museum until January 5th, 2014. This show features 40 of the year’s best children’s books illustrations and includes such notable artists and titles as Sophie Blackall’s Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, William Joyce’s The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozy, Dan Santat’s Bawk & Roll, and more!
R. Robert Pollak donates 16 original illustrations to the Museum’s Permanent Collection
Sunday pages of Mary Perkins, On Stage (1975) and Annie (1983) by Leonard Starr; Flash Gordon by Dan Barry (1976); Star Trek by Ron Harris (1981); Buck Rogers in the 25th Century by Jack Sparling (1983); Tarzan: the Beckoning by Thomas Yeates (1993); Dale Messick cut-outs (1947-50); Brick Bradford by Paul Norris (1966); Reg’lar Fellers (1924) by Gene Byrnes; Burne Hogarth artist proof for one of the King Arthur Series and 3 fashion illustrations by Denise Dupré (c. 1973-1978).
R. Robert Pollak, an avid collector of original comic artwork, is a graduate of Pratt Institute, drawing illustrations with a cartoon flare since the mid-1970s. Many of his pen-and-ink illustrations have appeared in an assortment of publications over the years including The Soho Weekly News and Saks Fifth Avenue, to more recently The Shawangunk Journal, The Ellenville Public Library/Museum, and Historic Green-Wood Cemetery. With assistance from John Sterling Lucas, Pollak started the Katy Keene Fan Club page on Facebook, which he administered and created art for from 2009-2011. Over the last three years Pollak has drawn pin-ups and short stories for Red Stylo Media’s Shakespeare Shaken and Frankenstein Anthology graphic novels. He also illustrates a seasonal comic strip titled Ellen’s Adventures at the Shadowland for an upstate NY newspaper.
On Saturday, September 21, SI Member Stephen Kroninger moderated a talk with iconic artists Cal Schenkel and Gary Panter. Thank you to everyone who joined us! The conversation was educational and entertaining, and we will be sharing it on our online video archives soon.
Below are some great illustrations from the lecture by Victor Juhasz. Thanks for sharing these Victor!
The Society is proud to announce a new look to the Museum Shop located in the main floor. Visitors are now able to view a larger selection of merchandise specializing in illustration, animation, comic and cartoon art. The Museum Shop includes a wide array of collectibles including limited edition posters, postcards, and gifts featuring artwork from our Permanent Collection and notable Members of the Society of Illustrators.
To view our online Museum Shop click here.
Each year the Society of Illustrators hosts The Original Art, a juried competition to find the year’s best children’s books. We receive hundreds of submissions from publishers and artists from around the country, and only about 120 are accepted into the show. The remaining books are then distributed to different charities and programs in New York City.
This past week, the Society dropped off boxes of these books to three different wonderful programs: New Alternatives, The Ink Well Foundation, and Harlem Link Charter School. Here is a little bit about them and the amazing work they are doing:
New Alternatives for Children: NAC’s mission is to provide high quality services in support of birth, foster, and adoptive families caring primarily for medically fragile children. Working primarily with children whose birth families live in poverty, NAC’s continuum of services ensures that children’s physical, social, educational, recreational, medical and mental healthcare needs are met.
The Ink Well Foundation: A group of professional animators, illustrators, and cartoonists who draw with children facing illness. They regularly visit hospitals and health care centers such as Mount Sinai, St. Mary’s, Bellevue, Gilda’s Club and the Ronald McDonald Houses.
Harlem Link Charter School: Harlem Link is a 5-K public charter school that has offered a high quality education choice to families in Harlem since 2005.
It’s been a busy few days here at the Society! Installing original work by Maurice Sendak is every illustration lover’s dream. Here’s what we’ve been up to…
Setting up to hang more work.
Curator Dennis Davis (back) and Stephen Kroninger.
From left to right: President Dennis Dittrich, Permanent Collection Manager Eric Fowler, and Executive Director Anelle Miller.
Play props created by Maurice Sendak.
Cow sculpture (back and front) by Maurice Sendak. Moo.
Eric Fowler and Dennis Dittrich hanging framed sketches.
Stephen Kroninger keeping it straight.
John Cuneo in spirit via Eric’s shirt.
The dream team.
Eric Fowler and Illustrator Victor Juhasz hard at work…
Join us at the opening reception for this Maurice Sendak Exhibition on Friday, June 14th at 7:00pm. The exhibition will run in our main gallery space from June 11th until August 17th. Find out more about the exhibition on our website.
Other Related Events
Wild Things and Other Taboos, lecture on the revolutionary work of Maurice Sendak, June 19th 2013 from 7:00pm - 9:00 pm at the Society of Illustrators. To reserve tickets, please visit our website.
On Maurice Sendak , a lecture presented at the 92nd Street Y in Tribeca on July 16th at 7:00pm. Visit the 92Y Tribeca website for more information.