So every morning, Anne Morse Hambrock (left) would drive down to the Staples parking lot, pick out a few day-laborers from the crowd of cartoonists waiting hopefully there and load them into her minivan.
Actually, Anne did a terrific job of keeping everyone fed and on-task and feeling appreciated while not going crazy herself, she managed to pull the Festival off without any visible kinks, and, though it was hardly as effortless as it appeared from the outside, she managed to channel her inner Lucy Van Pelt in productive, diplomatic and charming directions.
And she can bake a chocolate truffle cake. Or, actually, three of them. Nobody lost weight at this gathering.
Speaking of Lucy van Pelt, every cartoonist under 80 cites Peanuts as an inspiration, but only Lincoln Peirce has an old Peanuts paperback with his young attempts to draw the characters in the back. (That's Peppermint Patty at the upper right.)
Lincoln told the kids at the elementary schools he visited that, while they are taught not to copy other people's work in school, when it comes to art, copying is actually an important step in learning the craft.
And cartoonists are a bit obsessive about drawing. In his presentation, Denis Kitchen revealed how he had always enhanced his schoolwork with cartoons, not simply doodling during lectures but adding cartoon illustrations to academic papers, which amused all of his teachers except one, who considered cartoons unworthy. And thus he flunked art class.
(I wasn't all that surprised. I remember one day back in high school when both my friend Terry and I were kicked out of English class in separate periods but by the same teacher. I don't know if he was allowed back in, but I wasn't. As adults, I became a professional writer and Terry owned a bookstore.)
Todd Clark said he was inspired by this ad, and told the audience that, through a great deal of hard work and effort, he has now managed indeed to advance his career to the point where he makes $100 a week for drawing funnies.
I think he was kidding. But maybe $75.
Also on the topic of cartooning as a career, Scott Stantis told of how, at 19 and with a handful of professional credits, he had gone to meet the great cartoonist Paul Conrad, who popped open several bottles of wine for the young man and then went through his portfolio and advised him to consider another line of work because he'd never make it as a professional cartoonist.
An infuriated Stantis determined to show the old bastard and, some years later, ran into him again, this time with a more solid, proven set of credentials, only to learn that Conrad had been doing to him what the great cartoonist Ding Darling had done to a fledgling Paul Conrad a generation earlier.
I'm all in favor of discouraging those who can be discouraged, in order to spare them unnecessary futility, but that seems a bit harsh. However, Scott seems to have taken it in stride.
"Paul's dead and I'm still here, so I win," he said cheerfully.
One moment in Scott's presentation that I particularly liked was when he showed this cartoon that he had done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The flooding victim had originally been surrounded by all sorts of flotsam, but Scott had second thoughts and deleted it all.
Good choice. Everyone had seen the devastation, and too many editorial cartoons suffer from clutter. Less is more.
And speaking of Les Moore, Jeff Keane did a pretty good imitation of Funky Winkerbean's iconic hall monitor at the auction Saturday evening, setting up with a desk, only instead of a machine gun, he had a case of Family Circus calendars, which, along with Festival programs, he was signing for all comers.
Gave away 450 of them.
There was a lot of signing going on in Kenosha, and people were thrilled.
Here's the thing: At Cons, cartoonists are paying to be there, and so depend on book sales and (sometimes) an additional price for personalized signings in order to recoup their fees and turn a little profit.
In Kenosha, they were getting their expenses covered plus a stipend, so there was no charge for signing stuff.
And, while many signatures were being drawn on festival programs, a lot of people were purchasing books.
Winners all around.
And whoever bought the Sept 8, 1946 Brenda Starr strip at auction got a rare bit (heh) of unintended history: The first appearance of a cheesehead!
Certainly not the last, and if you ever need a cheesehead or green-and-yellow striped overalls or anything else along that line, I recommend the Milwaukee airport.
But block out some vacation time next year for the 2015 Festival.
(Note to the Libenson girls: This picture was Photoshopped. Your mother most definitely did not ever, ever, ever smoke a big honking cigar.)