Some of you may remember the days when AAEC conventions were the place where major daily newspaper editors came to find talent. It seemed at every year’s convention, there was a buzz about at least one big job and often, an editor interviewing on the spot.
The buzz at the Milwaukee convention in 1988 was Mike Keefe’s impending one-year sabbatical from The Denver Post and that his editor was scouting for prospects. I’ll never forget the night after meeting with Chuck Green. I couldn’t sleep and stared out over the lights of downtown Milwaukee, excited in the prospect that the unlikely dream of becoming an editorial cartoonist might actually happen. So, in fact, I owe my career to the AAEC. It’s time I gave a little something back.
A lot has changed since then. The AAEC has gone from an organization dominated by colorful daily newspaper staffers to a membership comprised of diverse, creative people, employing different approaches to the practice of editorial cartooning who publish on a myriad of platforms. As a result, one could argue that the AAEC is healthier than the newspaper industry that once supported it. I know how much the AAEC has meant to me over the years.
I’m sure all of you feel the same. It has been a source of strength, camaraderie and opportunity. So I ask you all to employ those creative skills to help ensure the “Future of the AAEC” and our profession. We’ve had the discussion, now let’s act. Let’s be open minded to new possibilities and take advantage of the new opportunities that are out there for us.
Gone are the days of newspapers as our primary underwriters, but by thinking creatively, we were able to stumble upon possible new models for hosting future conventions. The Portland Convention, June 16-19, 2010 and its partnership with Portland State is a perfect example of this approach. Jack Ohman’s star power as an alumnus helped us secure an $89 room rate we haven’t seen since the old days. We can plan on this convention being a little different than in the past, with more events that will be open to the public, including an AAEC event at the legendary Powell’s bookstore in downtown Portland.
It’s my hope that we can continue cultivating convention partnerships such as these with universities and journalism institutions while pursuing other ventures like the Editorial Cartoonists Initiative (ECI), the charitable arm of the AAEC, which foster education, and awareness of editorial cartooning.
And, like previous AAEC presidents, I look forward to educating and advocating on behalf of our diverse membership doing exceptional work in various disciplines of editorial cartooning, but especially local editorial cartooning!—Rex Babin, AAEC President