Cintiq and Cintiq Pro

Wacom catches the wave in Huntington Beach

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Ah, yes. A weekend at the beach in Southern California. Huntington Beach to be exact. Surf City USA. Time to put on the wetsuit, wax up the board and catch the next big wave of cartoonists.

Cartoonists? Duh. Certainly, you weren’t thinking about surfing, right?

Top cartoonists awaiting their draw off.

The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) meets every May in a different city around the US for its annual Reuben Awards ceremony. It’s their Oscars and a time, a full weekend, to celebrate the achievements and work of fellow colleagues in a variety of comic and cartoon art categories. From children’s books illustration and editorial to greeting cards and best Web series. The time is also used to catch up with old friends, meet new artists and, of course, pay tribute to those wonderful illustrators who are no longer with us. Over the last several years, Wacom has been honored to help sponsor the Reuben Awards weekend and it is a blast. An absolute blast.

Luke McGarry drawing on a Wacom Cintiq Pro.

This year, the NCS took advantage of the Huntington Beach location and created the first, hopefully the first of many, national arts festival dedicated to the cartoon and comics world. The event featured multiple venues, including a large tent near the entry to the Huntington beach pier where 200 + seated patrons could watch their favorite artists draw with traditional media or on Wacom’s large format Cintiq Pro 32 creative pen displays projected to a large screen on stage. Jeff Keane and Glen Keane both paid tribute to their father and the beloved Family Circus strip. Mutts creator, Patrick McDonnell gave a great presentation on his comic and the lessons he hopes it sets forth. Internationally-known artists were also at the tent, including The Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard from the UK. By the way, Charlie is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. There was even an art battle where artists were given a subject matter and they had to quickly sketch their concepts. Luke McGarry of Sad Chewie fame rocked on the Cintiq Pro, amazing the audience with his illustration chops and twisted sense of humor. Of course, pug-loving Gemma Correll held her own against Mr. McGarry. At the back of the tent, several Wacom devices were set up for the public to try with Wacom staff there to help with any questions. Additionally, Wacom had a caricature artist drawing portraits for people who signed up. All the events were free, creating a happy and fun environment.

For NCS Fest, the city of Huntington Beach also closed several streets downtown to traffic and erected small tents for artists on both sides of the street for the public to mingle with the artists and purchase books, illustrations, etc. at their leisure.

Charlie Adlard, creator of The Walking Dead, sits down with Wacom to talk about his workflow.

Wacom’s base for the NCS Fest weekend was the Hyatt Regency. Two rooms near the lobby of the hotel were sprinkled with Wacom tablets and pen displays for people to try and many visitors, both members of the NCS and the public, came away with a new appreciation for what Wacom is creating for illustrators. There were also a great number of presentations conducted on the Hyatt property over the weekend where artists employed Wacom to highlight their illustrative work. Tom Richmond of MAD Magazine gave a great talk on caricature and David Silverman and Bill Morrison discussed their work on The Simpsons. And, yes, even the NCS Fest nightlife was filled with Wacom. Dozens of guests at a Huntington Beach bar and grill watched as Viz Comic gurus, Graham Dury and Simon Thorp illustrated on a Wacom MobileStudio Pro definitions from Viz’s latest edition of their “Profanisaurus.” An evening with a strong “R” rating for sure.

Naturally, Wacom had the opportunity to conduct video interviews with many of the NCS guests over the weekend, so please watch for future postings on this blog for the final versions of those interviews.

Outgoing NCS President Bill Morrison displays his drawing prowess from his days on The Simpsons.

As for the Reuben Awards? First, congratulations to Stephan Pastis for receiving the Cartoonist of the Year for his daily comic Pearls Before Swine, and Floyd Norman, the great Disney animator, for the Lifetime Achievement award. And, of course, a huge thank you to the outgoing President of the NCS, Bill Morrison and the newly appointed President, Jason Chatfield. You’ve both always been huge supporters of Wacom and we sincerely appreciate all you do to make the world a more creative place. Thank you from all your Wacom friends and see you next year.