Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Funny Business Seven Local Cartoonists Are Up for Awards at Next Weekend's National Cartoonists Society Convention in Pittsburgh. ... That's an Unusual Number of Nominees -- and Reflects the Craft's Importance Here

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Funny Business Seven Local Cartoonists Are Up for Awards at Next Weekend's National Cartoonists Society Convention in Pittsburgh. ... That's an Unusual Number of Nominees -- and Reflects the Craft's Importance Here

Article excerpt

Gone are the days when cities had multiple newspapers, which competed for comic strips and treated cartoonists like movie stars.

Cartooning remains a serious business, however, and the Internet has opened up new outlets for illustrators' talents. Pittsburgh is a hotbed for this creative energy -- a point that will be driven home when the National Cartoonists Society holds its annual convention and awards ceremony in Pittsburgh next weekend.

Seven Pittsburgh-area cartoonists have been nominated for Reuben awards, which are named for the society's longtime honorary president, Rube Goldberg. That's a big number for a small city. It would be a huge accomplishment for even one of the major coastal cities.

In all, 48 artists from across the nation have been nominated for awards in 15 divisions, ranging from newspaper illustration to television animation to advertising to greeting cards. Pittsburghers represent about 15 percent of all nominees.

The local nominees are but a small number of the cartoonists of all stripes who inhabit Pittsburgh. The community includes comic- book artists, humor illustrators, Web cartoonists, graphic novelists, performance and editorial cartoonists and mini-comics creators.

My colleagues and I have come up with a few theories on why Pittsburgh is such a draw, so to speak, for cartoonists. One contributing factor may be the relatively low cost of housing, an important consideration in a field that isn't as wildly lucrative as it used to be.

Then, of course, there's the ToonSeum, Downtown, one of only three major cartoon museums in the country and the site of some of this year's convention activities. The ToonSeum has done more to promote cartooning in Pittsburgh than anything else. Host to many a party, opening and cartoon event, the ToonSeum is a home away from home and unofficial clubhouse for Pittsburgh's cartoonist class.

Pittsburgh also is the home of many colleges and universities with good-to-stellar art departments, including the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. …

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