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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 05/22/2009

Cartooning's Oscars: This Weekend, Lines Will Be Crossed!

By Michael Cavna

(courtesy of NCS)Enlarge Image

It's time, once again, to honor the year's best in cartooning by handing out the funkiest-looking trophy in the land -- picture the Blue Man Group having vaguely tawdry relations with an inkwell -- to some of the funniest creators in the land.

Yessir, the members of the National Cartoonists Society are gathered this weekend in Hollywood to talk shop, hold seminars and then dress up in tux and gown to mock each other affectionately in fewer words than it takes to fill a word balloon. The Reubens -- a.k.a. cartooning's Oscars -- allow for members of an oft-isolated breed to mingle, fraternize and then reminisce about that era when appearing in 200 newspapers was as good as gold in Fort Knox. That era, we should note, was 2007.

In the spirit of the Reubens, Comic Riffs pauses today to salute all the nominees -- some of whom commented on this blog upon receiving word of their nomination. Many of the print-cartoon nominees, especially, are Friends Of Comic Riffs. So we pay tribute today by offering this gallery of their recent work.

Best of luck to all this weekend -- and when you mock each other, play nice. Those rental cummerbunds ain't cheap.

(You can click here for a full list of nominees -- and you can check back here next week for the winners' list):

REUBEN AWARD NOMINEES: Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine"); Dave Coverly ("Speed Bump"); Dan Piraro ("Bizarro").

'SPEED BUMP' (Creators)Enlarge Image

'BIZARRO' (KFS)Enlarge Image


BEST NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIP: Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine"); Mark Tatulli ("Lio"); Richard Thompson ("Cul de Sac").

'CUL DE SAC' (UPS)Enlarge Image

'LIO' (UPS)Enlarge Image

BEST EDITORIAL CARTOONS: Mike Luckovich; Jeff Parker; Michael Ramirez.

' MICHAEL RAMIREZ' (courtesy of

'MIKE LUCKOVICH' (courtesy of

'JEFF PARKER' (courtesy of

BEST NEWSPAPER PANEL CARTOON: Vic Lee ("Pardon My Planet"); Mark Parisi (LINK: "Off the Mark"); Jeff Stahler ("Moderately Confused").



By Michael Cavna  | May 22, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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Why oh why Lio?! It's a one joke strip and we've seen the joke over and over and over...

Posted by: hdradio | May 22, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

My votes would go Pastis, Pastis and Luckovich. Can you tell I'm a big "Pearls Before Swine" fan?!

Posted by: dre7861 | May 22, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I suppose "Lio" was nominated for a Ruben just to show that you can produce a comic strip without dialog. That would follow in the trend set by the award of the Ruben to "Family Circus", just to show that you can produce a comic strip without humor. Or logic. Or artistic talent.

Posted by: seismic-2 | May 22, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

For the Reuben Award I'm rooting for Stephan Pastis and "Pearls Before Swine", but I also enjoy the works of both Dave Coverly and Dan Piraro. Right now though Stephan Pastis and his lovely world with Pig and Rat and all their friends is a place I love to visit every day. Pig is so funny that I often go back to reread older ones to laugh all over again.

As for "Lio" I enjoy the drawings and though it isn't a laugh out loud comic I do think that Mark Tatulli is very talented. The strip he did a while ago about Lio finding the remains of Calvin and Hobbes was funny and sad all at the same time.

Bil Keane won his Reuben for "Family Circus" almost 30 years ago and it was well deserved. The early years of the comic were funny, endearing and well drawn. Yes, it does seem out of step with current vogues of cartooning, but that doesn't mean that it always was.

Posted by: elyrest | May 22, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Lio frightens me, the child (if indeed it is a child) is very disturbed. Nothing funny in that. Pearls before swine, however, is always hilarious and deserves all the awards it can get. Cul de Sac is growing on me, Richard Thompson's kids are so like mine were, its eerie!

Posted by: 2old2readcomics | May 23, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse

I love Lio. Mark Tatulli ranks with Charles Aadams and Gaham Wilson.

Posted by: einspur | May 23, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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