I hope you’re all able to get away for some summer relaxation this year despite the daily — no, hourly — news from the White House. I have a feeling editorial cartoonists will be on overdrive for quite a while.
Convention information and registration is now online at the AAEC website. Please note that the hotel reservation deadline is October 1, 2017. I know what procrastinators we all are but make a note of this on your calendar. Also, the deadline for convention registration is October 25, 2017. Registration packets will be snail-mailed this week.
The multi-talented Matt Davies of Newsday is our host for the convention, which will take place mostly on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, and include a fun day trip into NYC.
Both Newsday and Hofstra are very excited to be hosting and supporting us, and Matt and Wanda have been working extra hard to make sure you all will have an enjoyable stay. Check out the schedule on the website for all the presentations, panel discussions, & receptions Matt and I are planning for the convention.
Speaking of Wanda, we’re very pleased she’s back as the manager of the AAEC! Wanda has already proven to be Wonder Woman in guiding us through the maze of planning a convention, so please take a moment to thank her when you see her in November.
The AAEC has officially entered the 21st century—we now have our first digital editor. Jape Trostle has been expertly manning all the social media accounts for the past few weeks and will be updating the new website when that’s ready to launch. If you have any cartoon, cartoonist, or free speech related items of interest please pass along to Jape.
Here’s a list of our social media accounts:
As we all know, this new administration is no fan of journalists and frankly, has no concept of the role of a free press in a democracy. One of my main concerns as president of the AAEC has been the ramifications for editorial cartoonists. While I haven’t heard of anything specific towards cartoonists from this current administration, we want to be ready as an organization in case a situation does occur so we’ve been establishing contacts with organizations that have these same concerns such as the Free Expression Network, a group of organizations concerned with censorship and free speech issues.
Former president Matt Wuerker and I attended one of their meetings last February at the Newseum in Washington and spoke with representatives from the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, among others. Also, Chip Bok, who is on the steering committee of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and one of our members, has graciously agreed to be the official liaison for the AAEC and RCFP. If you have any issues or questions regarding censorship or legal actions against you, please contact him.
The AAEC Board — Incoming President Pat Bagley, VP Nate Beeler, Secretary Monte Wolverton, and Directors, Ed Hall, Kevin Siers, and Signe Wilkinson — have and continue to address cases of cartoonists rights issues, both nationally and internationally. Serving on the Board is now a 2-year commitment and I don’t have to remind anyone that this is an unpaid position. Your colleagues are devoting their time to making your organization a world leader in free speech and cartoonists rights — so buy them a drink at the convention!
The other issue I’m addressing this year is the changes editorial cartoonists and our organization are facing, both for future convention sites and the larger question of how do we all make a living now. While we’re fortunate to have traditional newspaper powerhouses like Newsday hosting our convention this year and the Sacramento Bee in 2018, we can’t expect to rely on members like Matt Davies and Jack Ohman to keep stepping up to the plate forever or for our members to get that on-staff cartoonist position. Therefore, I am proposing to join forces with the Billy Ireland Library and CXC for our 2019 convention, and possibly future conventions.
If you haven’t attended or are not familiar with Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, it’s a citywide cartoon festival which started in 2015 in Columbus, Ohio and covers all cartoon disciplines. The 3-day event includes academic symposiums, cartoonists panel discussions and presentations, workshops, and film screenings. Last year Gary Trudeau was interviewed at the Wexner Theater on the Ohio State Campus and it was a full house, both with cartoonists and the public. For two of the festival days a large exhibitor hall is set up at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which is a great opportunity for our members to show and sell their work as well as make publisher contacts.
I met with Jenny Robb and Lucy Caswell last month in Columbus and they’re both very excited to have the AAEC involved. The general idea is to have the first day of the convention for only AAEC specific events and then piggyback onto the CXC festivities for the next 3 days. More information will come at the business meeting in November, but f you have any thoughts or questions before that, feel free to email me.
As most of you know, I feel strongly that our profession needs to expand the traditional cartoon-in-a-horizontal-box definition. So many cartoonists, especially the younger generation, are experimenting with different mediums and formats to take advantage of both print and online possibilities to express social commentary. The AAEC needs to embrace them if we expect our profession to survive and thrive. Also on that same subject, one of our “younger generation” members, Dan Nott, is doing an excellent job reaching out to those creators through the changes he’s implemented to the Locher Award. Check out that website for more information.
Looking forward to seeing you all at the convention,
President, Association of American Editorial Cartoonists