The 73rd Annual Reuben Awards were presented by the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) on May 18, in Huntington Beach, California. Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, took home the top honor for 2018 Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.
In his speech, Pastis joked about finally receiving the honor after consecutive nominations since 2009, and on a more serious note, he dedicated the award to his wife, Staci, for her ongoing support.
“Living with a creative type is not easy,” Pastis said. “We are moody, we are up, we are down, we are manic, we are boastful, we are mopey, we suck, we’re great, we’re unstable, we forget, we rage, we’re nuts, and we quit and we unquit and we quit again. And one person, one person that none of your peers ever sees, is there in our homes and on the phone talking us off that ledge. Telling us whatever truth or lie will get us through the night. … While others will see my name on [the award], I will see yours.”
Pastis also personally thanked individuals at Andrews McMeel Syndication (AMS), including John Glynn, vice chairman and editor at large, who had this to say about the accomplishment: “It’s great to see Stephan win the Reuben. It’s been a long time coming and woefully overdue. Stephan is one of the most active and visible spokespersons on behalf of newspaper comics, and nobody works harder than he does promoting it all. Longtime readers may be encouraged to know that I have already started lobbying the National Cartoonists Society to add a ‘Most Hair Product Used by a Cartoonist’ category in the Reubens next year because he’ll win that going away.”
The other nominees for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year were Mark Tatulli and Brian Basset (also AMS-syndicated cartoonists) as well as Lynda Barry and Hilary Price.
Congratulations are also in order for two other AMS cartoonists, who won NCS divisional awards for the first time. Rob Rogers won for Best Editorial Cartoon, and Will Henry won for Best Newspaper Comic Strip.
“We couldn’t be more happy or proud of Rob Rogers, who had a very eventful 2018, for his editorial NCS Award win,” said Shena Wolf, AMS Director, Comics and Acquisitions. “And Will Henry’s win for best comic strip was a huge surprise. It’s very rare for such a young strip to win, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more talented dude.”
Rogers, whose political cartoons appear on GoComics, was fired from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2018 after 25 years as its editorial cartoonist. Henry’s strip, Wallace the Brave, began on GoComics in 2015 and launched in more than 110 newspapers in 2018.
The Reuben Awards are the Oscars of the cartoon industry. This year’s awards ceremony took place during the inaugural NCSFest, a three-day, public event that included exhibitions, signings, panel discussions, workshops and seminars. Andrews McMeel Syndication had a large presence as an awards sponsor, and Wolf moderated a panel session that featured creator Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn). The session, “The Webslingers,” focused on bypassing traditional print syndication and leveraging the internet to build a brand. Other AMS creators participated in the festivities, such as Jonathan Lemon (Alley Oop and Rabbits Against Magic), Ryan Pagelow (Buni) and Gemma Correll (Four Eyes).