I'm going to kick things off with an excerpt from the preface of former NCS President and Reuben Award-winning creator Jerry Robinson's 1974 book, THE COMICS. Here, Robinson so effectively places the art of cartooning into the context of every-day-life from which it sprang:
The comic strip is an American invention, and while American cartoonists and their creations have dominated the art form, it has been adopted by virtually every country.
The unique blend of disciplines of the comic strip endows it with a visual-verbal experience of remarkable versatility. The comic strip performs one of literature's most important functions - to examine our mores, morals, and illusions. John Bainbridge called the comic strip the most significant body of literature in America. And it was Heywood Broun who credited the comics with constituting the proletarian novels of America.
The influence of the comic strip on American life has never been fully documented. More than 100,000,000 Americans read comic strips every day in some 1,700 newspapers. There are also more than 200,000,000 readers abroad in 42 languages and 102 countries. They experience the unique one-to-one relationship that the comics provide. Among the devotees of comics have been Presidents, poets, Supreme Court justices, novelists and movie directors. They have included Franklyn D. Roosevelt, Carl Sandburg, e.e. cummings, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Steinbeck, and Charles Chaplin.
Cartoons not only reflect American life, but help mold it. A renaissance of interest in the comic arts is indicated by courses of study in universities and museum exhibitions.
Cartoons have set styles for whole eras in clothes, coiffure, food, and manners. Our language has been permeated with comic idioms, and some words have become so much a part of our speech that their origins have been forgotten: Hot dog!, jeep, baloney!, a Rube Goldberg contraption, and innumerable other terms.
The comic strip is a living art form, in constant change, and the cartoonist, his creation, and the reader grow and evolve together and in continuous interaction.
Cartoonists reflect the diversity of America, as do their creations. Many cartoonists have been immigrants or first-generation Americans. They come from coast-to-coast, North and South, city, farm, and village. They have been everything from engineers and journalists to circus barkers and preachers, salesmen and servicemen.
A last observation about the nature of that curious breed, the cartoonist. He is an artist with an acute sense of the ridiculous, a peculiar controlled lunacy that destroys pretensions, sacred cows, and illusions: who is more sensitive to stupidity than most, with an instinctive feeling for universal human values and the ability to translate them into exciting narrative, humor and fantasy, with unique characters, loving and exasperating: and, most of all, he has an overwhelming compulsion to set it all down in pen and ink.
New York, New York