June 5th, 2013

Year of the fortune cookie

by Rick Kirkman And Jerry Scott



This year was the 67th Annual Reuben Awards dinner. In February, Tom Richmond, the president of the National Cartoonists Society informed me that I was nominated for the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

From most people that garners a shrug.

To cartoonists, it ranks right up there with an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy or Tony. But in our case it’s even more special because, at some point in the 1990s, the award was made a once-in-a-lifetime award—no repeats.

This was my first nomination. My fellow nominees, all nominated by the membership of the National Cartoonists Society, were: Brian Crane (creator of Pickles) and Stephan Pastis (creator of Pearls Before Swine). The announcement of the winner would be made at the awards dinner during the Memorial Day weekend convention of the NCS in Pittsburgh, three and a half months from then.

I have to admit, for the first few weeks, it messed with my head. Every drawing raised the question, Was it good enough? After a while, that gets pretty exhausting, mentally. I was finally able to get to a point where the nomination stopped sneaking into my head.

Then, just a few weeks away from the convention, my wife and I got some Chinese takeout. As usual, we opened our fortune cookies, ready to exchange them and mock them or see how they worked out by adding “in bed” to them.

I can’t even remember the last time I’d had a fortune that actually told a fortune. Most have been cheesy clichés or nonsensical sayings that left me scratching my head, bewildered. My all-time favorite “fortune” was one that said, “You should have your ears boxed if you doubt her.”

My fortune that night? The one you see above.

It was not only a real fortune, but one that had actual relevance. I put it in my wallet for safekeeping. I’m generally not superstitious, but having a fortune cookie that had a real—and timely—fortune in it seemed like one heckofa sign.

Why didn’t I write about this sooner? I’m not one to flout “signs” even if I’m not usually superstitious. But I didn’t want to take any chances. I still have one more thing to hold out for. Not only had I been nominated for a Reuben Award, but our book, BBXX, had been nominated for an Eisner Award. The Eisner, named after the great Will Eisner, is another prestigious award in the comics community and is awarded at the biggest of the Comic-Cons, in San Diego. Two other books I have artwork in are also nominated for Eisners (Naked Cartoonists and Team Cul de Sac). As I write this, the announcement is seven weeks away.

Maybe I’m taking a risk writing about it now. I’m okay with that.

That’s because so far, the fortune cookie is one for one: I came home from Pittsburgh the proud owner of a Reuben award.

I wasn’t alone. For the first time since 1968—and only the second time ever—there was a tie. Brian Crane also took home a Reuben statue.

Brian Crane (Pickles), L and Rick Kirkman (Baby Blues), R, with their twin Reuben Awards from the National Cartoonists Society. ©2013 Keith Robinson, Used by permission

I don’t know if Brian had a fortune cookie fortune in his wallet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had.

As for my fortune, it will be staying in my wallet for at least another seven weeks.





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