The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) held it's 64th annual Reuben awards weekend in Jersey City an area carved out of New Jersey and oozing wealth into the atmosphere. The Memorial Day weekend event took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. From the hotel"˜s windows, you could see the beautiful skyline of New York city across the Hudson River, a sight to behold. Taking the New Jersey Path train from the hotel to the World Trade Centre, abbreviated WTC was just one stop away. The site where the twin towers once stood still looks like a big wound refusing to heal since 2001. And there is St. Paul's Chapel. Built in 1766, it is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City. The World Trade Centre came under terrorist attack and both towers crashed to the ground but St. Paul's Chapel remained standing. And when it comes to patriotism, no nation on earth flies flags waving gracefully like the US.
Eventually, it is hoped that the WTC site will take shape soon, as work is in progress there. And to think that one year before 9/11, the Reuben awards weekend took place in New York City at the top of the twin towers in which many great cartoonists including myself gathered just like the 64th one.
The Statue of Liberty from the windows of the hotel was beckoning to me for me to visit it, so I did. I boarded the Miss New Jersey FerryÂ from Liberty state park to Ellis IslandÂ which was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States. It's now a museum which now symbolizes the nation's busiest immigration station from 1892 to 1954. From there, onwards to the Statue of Liberty buzzing with visitors mostly tourists. Seeing hundreds come off the ferry on to the island gave a vivid picture of how thousands ofÂ immigrants then would have come off a much bigger vessel of over 5,000.
The gathering of legends and future legends in one place at the Hyatt Regency was a scene to behold. Comic greats, Book Illustrators, TVÂ and Feature Animators, Newspaper panel and comic strip cartoonists designers and Gag cartoonists were all there. Seminar SpeakersÂ included, Joe Kubert, George Booth, Yaakov Kirschen and Mort Drucker to mention a few.
Joe Kubert was elated that some of his school's alumni, myself, Graham Nolan, and Rob Smith Jr. were there to see him receive the Milton Cannif Lifetime Achievement award. During his Seminar presentation Joe mentioned how his late wife Muriel was the backbone of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art as he could not forgo the Comic profession he still loves so much to run the administrative aspect of the school. He also hinted at the fact that his superb Comic artist sons Adam and Andy would eventually take over the running of the prestigious school that has so many of it's alumni students now in the cartoon and comic industry. Thanks to Muriel.
Graham Nolan and Rob Smith were nice guys to have been around, while at the Joe Kubert school and nice guys to have been around at the 64th Reubens weekend. Being at the same table during the Banquet/Awards night flanked by great legends was awesome. With Jerry Robinson who was Bob Kane"˜s (Batman creator)Â assistant and the creator of the Joker, Joe Kubert (Sgt Rock/ Tarzan/Fax from Sarajevo) and my former tutor at the Joe Kubert School, Hy Eisman who for years has been drawing the Popeye newspaper cartoon strips. Eisman was also my tutor in lettering at the Kubert school. I did enjoy every moment at the table of legends.