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Toonie Awards 2005

The Annual Toonie Awards honor cartoonists who have made significant contributions to the field and have ties to the Pacific Northwest!The Cartoonists Northwest’s event took place on March 19th 2005 at Ivar’s Salmon House. Banquet tables were decorated with St. Patrick’s Day green mugs and Bazooka Gum, and early arrivals perused the Art Auction while waiting for the festivities to begin. 

Guest speaker Brian Basset, the cartoonist behind the syndicated comics Red and Rover and Adam@Home, themed his talk around finding a renewed interest in the cartooning art form.

Reading a collection of old Sunday funnies reminded Bill recently that cartooning is more than just a job. It’s up to every contributor the industry to convey the value of the art; cartoonists owe the reader their maximum effort every time. “It’s a humbling feeling to be given this gift,” Basset says. He attributes his gift to getting an electric shock from a vacuum at an early age and no-helmet hockey.

Basset lauched Red and Rover in May of 2000, just as the economy took a downward swing. September 11 shut everything down, and since newspapers are directly tied to the economy they froze their budgets and cut their features. Comic strips are treated like poor step-children by editors that are administrators, not journalists, and know very little about comics. Many newspapers have folded, and those that survived have smaller staffs. For years newspapers were not buying new strips, and editors were comfortable with leaving things as they were. Cutting favorite stand-by strips upsets readers, and timid editors didn’t make changes. “Remember though that cream rises to the top,” Brian said. “If you don’t go for it, it won’t work.”

Basset noted that humor changes quickly, and wondered if Peanuts would get syndicated in the modern world. He acknowledged knowing very little about the kind of effect web comics might have on the industry. When asked what motivates him to keep going, he replied, “The love of it.” When Charles Schulz died, Basset stopped to think about how lucky he is to be a cartoonist. “Schulz never lost the thrill.”

Following Brian Basset’s speech, the Toonie Awards were announced. The Web Comics Toonie went to Scott and Georgia Ball for their online comic, Scooter and Ferret. Kaja and Phil Foglio, creators of Girl Genius, received the Comic Book Toonie. The Graphic Novel Toonie was awarded to Rick Hoberg, and the Illustration Toonie went to Mark Monlux, author of the Comic Critic. The Best of the Northwest Award, chosen during the event from the winners of the Best of the Northwest meeting competitions throughout 2004, was won by a Scooter and Ferret strip. And the evening’s highest honor, the Golden Toonie, was given to Rick Hoberg, whose distinguished career is best known for his great artistry in Star Wars comics.

Certificates of achievment in leadership of Cartoonists Northwest were awarded to second-term President Scott Alan, Speaker Coordinator John Lustig, website updater Catie Lustig, Penstuff designer Dick Rogers and Treasurer Elizabeth Pankey. A special thank-you gift was awarded to Maureen VanderPas for her long-time commitment to making the Toonie Awards an annual reality. Certificates were also given out to attendees who had reached a milestone in their CNW memberships: Roberta Gregory is a ten year member, Elizabeth Pankey is a fifteen year member, and Bob Ferris is a proud twenty year member of CNW.

John Lustig announced two new inductees into the CNW Hall of Fame: Gary Larson, creator of the one-panel comic The Far Side, and Carl Barks, the revered cartoonist from the most influential period of Donald Duck comics.

The Toonies are always concluded by announcing the winners of the Clay Contest. Attendees are given clay to quickly make their quirky creations with which are then voted on. This year’s winners were Mark Monlux for his “Sandwich Man” and runner-up Mark Jessup for “Spilled Mug.” The highest bidders in the Art Auction came away with original art, posters, comic collections and other trinkets. Thanks to all the participants for making this year’s ceremony a night to remember.