The National Cartoonist Society award ceremony, “the Reubens,” has been held on the Memorial Day weekend for as long as I can remember. Sparky and I attended almost every year since 1974, and many of them meld together in my mind. One year Sparky suggested that we take our baseball mitts and a ball so we could have a rousing game of catch. He called all his friends and suggested the same thing. Thus started a tradition and every Reuben for several years we would scout out a large space of lawn to toss the ball and chat. It was always a great time.
Even when we were in a high rise New York hotel we still manage to toss the baseball. We looked out the window to a great playground across the street that proved to be a perfect setting. Another time we played on the huge lawn of an elegant Pasadena hotel. That was the year that Paige Braddock sat on the steps watching. Sparky invited her to join in. She may have been tempted, but just then the sprinklers came on and we scattered like a flock of birds. Sparky was delighted to discover that Joe D’Angelo of the Hearst newspapers had played minor league ball, and he always called Joe to be sure he brought his glove and knew when and where we were playing.
After Sparky’s passing, we continued this tradition for many Reubens, but I guess we finally “let it go” as many of the hotels, Boston, for example, simply don’t have big lawns.
At the 1998 Reuben Awards, we found ourselves in Pasadena, California. In the foreground is Joe D’Angelo; Sparky is by the palm trees; and Rosie McDaniel is in the blue pants.
Post-baseball game photo in San Antonio, Texas, May, 1999. Front: Rosie McDaniel, Sparky, Patrick McDonnell, me, political cartoonist Mike Luckovich, Luckovich’s children, Peter Guren of Ask Shagg, Guren’s children Behind Rosie: Cristi Fagan (in all blue) and Kevin Fagan of Drabble behind her.
The Reuben award was designed by cartoonist Rube Goldberg for the National Cartoonist Society. Sparky was the first cartoonist to win the Reuben for Best Cartoonist of the Year twice, for the years 1955 and 1964. Above is his award from 1955, which is part of the Museum’s collection.
The Sunday night party turned psychedelic – here I am with old friends, Betty Evans, wife of Luann cartoonist Greg Evans and Linda Houden, wife of Ballard Street cartoonist Jerry Van Amerongen.
The distinguished gentlemen from Mad Magazine.
This year the Reubens were in Las Vegas. Most of us spend our time catching up with friends and not gambling, but I did hear of one person who had a nice casino win: sometimes it can pay for the weekend, which is nice when it happens. The theme of the Reubens this year was Mad Men. There was a wonderful panel discussion of the history and ups and downs of Mad Magazine’s history which was fascinating to me, as I have not been a regular reader.
As always, the celebration was capped with the presentation of the Reuben, the award for the outstanding cartoonist of the year. This year, the Reuben went to Tom Richmond, caricaturist for Mad Magazine, as well as in many other venues. Tom will be making a visit to the Museum in early August. He will be here on the morning of August 4 to teach a Master Class for Adults about the art of caricature, and then later that day he will be available to meet with visitors.