Keith Knight amuses me. We recently chatted in the bar at the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) convention that Keith was crashing. As something of an NCS historian, I thought I would respond to Keith's suggestions in cartoon form below.
Hold the convention in a smaller town.
We've had some odd convention locations in the past. The convention in Asheville, NC wasn't very well attended but was one of my favorites. I think my favorite one of all time was the one in Cancun, Mexico, where I never would have otherwise gone and the attendance was the lowest I can remember. The problem with odd locales for the convention is that attendance drops. In fact, I could make an argument for always having the convention in California or near New York City every year.
Aggressively court web and indie cartoonists.
The NCS should be doing that. They haven't really been "courting" anybody.
Have certain convention events open to the public.
That's a suggestion that has spawned some heated debate. In the past, when the NCS has had public events, we either had a bad experience or a poor turnout. An exception was a fairly successful book signing/public event at the convention in San Antonio ten years ago.
The one us old-timers remember is the debacle in San Francisco about 18 years ago, where the cartoonists and the public were invited to a reception/signing at a book store and the public mobbed Jim Davis (Garfield) and Charles Schulz (Peanuts), rudely driving them away and ignoring the other cartoonists. It was pretty unpleasant.
I remember in the bar at the St. Francis Hotel that night, the cartoonists were joking about how they could all draw Garfield and should all just say they were Jim Davis. The hotel staff gave the cartoonists white plates and sharpie markers to draw on the plates "“ in exchange for a drawing on a plate, the cartoonist could have a free drink. The hotel ended up with a huge stack of worthless drawings of Garfield on plates, signed by faux Jim Davises. I heard the NCS, Ohio State or somebody got a call from the hotel years later, asking what to do with "all your plates." I believe they ended up on the trash heap of history.
Keith's suggestion about "cartoonist vs. cartoonist action + beer" misses the point. Â The cartoonist vs. cartoonist action IS the beer.