Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cartoonists in the House - McMaster Children's Hospital RMH Family Room Visit by NCS Canada Members

This past Friday, fellow members of the Canadian Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) and I visited the Ronald McDonald Family Room at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a truly fun, inspiring, and rewarding experience for all of us.

Planning for this event began in early November. Shortly after I accepted the acting role of Chair for our chapter, newest Canuck member, Jonathan Mahood (Bleeker the Rechargeable Dog, King Features), suggested the wonderful idea that we organize some visits to local children's hospitals, acknowledging that he was inspired by similar events held by other NCS chapters from the United States.

My first instinct was to try McMaster Children's Hospital (part of Hamilton Health Sciences) where my son was born last year. McMaster University Medical Centre has previously specialized in children's medicine, but transitioned to a kids-only ER in April 2011. And so, I contacted the friendly and amazing staff at the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton (RMHH), and they immediately loved the idea of cartoonists drawing for the kids and their families.

Currently, the official "House" that accommodates families requiring extended stays is closed for renovations (expanding from 15 rooms to 40!). Nevertheless, the Ronald McDonald Family Room that operates within the hospital is still open daily. Due to the room's size, we were limited to only 3 participating cartoonists for this first visit; however, even before the event, the RMHH staff were inquiring if we could return when the newly renovated House reopens this summer.

Participating cartoonists were Jonathan Mahood, myself, and the talented children's author & illustrator, Patricia Storms.

ABOVE: NCS Canada Members Jonathan Mahood, Mike Cope, and Patricia Storms share a smile with Marc (thanks to Mom for taking the photo!).

We didn't know how many kids to expect, since it all depended on patient medical conditions. A two hour visit was originally planned, but let's just say, time definitely flies when you're having fun.

Despite being in a hospital, the most infectious thing in the air was the positive spirit of the kids, who smiled as they watched cartoon characters come to life, and enthusiastically drew along with us if they could. As one mother observed to her sons, who were into creating superheroes and villains with Patricia, "I've never seen you guys so excited about drawing before." The secret behind that was Patricia's magical ability to draw them in.

ABOVE: Cartooning apprentices practice their magic with Patricia Storms.

ABOVE: Travis proudly shows his own cartooning talents.

For those kids who were unfortunately isolated to their rooms, we drew cartoons for their parents who stopped by to say hello. And when a bedridden boy named Anthony couldn't fit through the door, Jonathan and I spent time drawing for him out in the hall. Even though Anthony couldn't verbally communicate, there was no denying the smile on his face, as well as his mother's and social worker's.

My RMHH contact was their lovely Family Services co-ordinator, Linda Pordham, who helped promote our visit to various wards in the days leading up by posting and distributing copies of an invitation flyer I had prepared. I also contacted the local newspaper, The Hamilton Spectator, who graciously sent a photographer to snap some shots of the kids. Since closing the adult ER, McMaster University Medical Centre has faced considerable criticism, and so, it was wonderful to see a photo with the beaming smile of a young patient named Patrick, sitting on his mother's lap, filling half of page 3 in Saturday's newspaper—a wonderful reminder that both the hospital, and events such as ours, are focused on the kids.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: "Cartoon Fun" in The Hamilton Spectator (page A3, January 21, 2012).

Three artists from the National Cartoonists Society visited with children at Hamilton's Ronald McDonald House Friday to entertain them with caricatures and other requested drawings. Patrick Lelievre, 5, waits with mom Greta Sullivan as artist Mike Cope makes Patrick's request of a "really fast airplane" come to lifeRon Albertson, The Hamilton Spectator.
Jonathan later wrote to me, "It's kind of shocking how just a simple drawing can brighten up someone's face."

I think that's what makes a children's hospital visit so special. To us cartoonists, the drawings may come easy, but smiles can be difficult for kids (and their families) after being in hospital for several months. And so, plans are already underway for our NCS Canada chapter's return visit, which promises to be an even bigger success thanks to the sincere interest of our fellow members and the wonderful staff at Ronald McDonald House Hamilton.

Special thanks Linda @ RMHH for helping us plan this event. And to my cartooning friends, Jonathan and Patricia ... Can't wait to do this again with you!

Stay TOONed!

- Mike Cope

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NCS Canada Cartoonists to Visit Ronald McDonald House Family Room at McMaster Children's Hospital

Here's something I'm looking very forward to participating in ...

"Cartoonists in the House!" (Poster design by Mike Cope).

Back in the Fall, I was nominated to take on the acting role of Chair for our Canadian Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS). It's not a title that comes with any fancy dip pens or ink, but a voluntary role that I was honoured to accept ... Honestly, I'd only been a member of the group for about year, so I think I was bamboozled!

Around that same time, my good friend and talented syndicated cartoonist, Jonathan Mahood (Bleeker the Rechargeable Dog), wrote and suggested the wonderful idea that we organize some visits to local children's hospitals. I've had lots of fun cartooning for kids at local schools, libraries, and community centres for years; but visiting a children's hospital would be so special.

My first instinct was to try McMaster's Children Hospital (part of Hamilton Health Sciences), where my son was born last year.

And so, I contacted the friendly and amazing staff at the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton (RMHH), and they were very open to helping our group of professional cartoonists plan a visit to their RMH Family Room, which operates within the hospital. McMaster Hospital has previously specialized in children's medicine, but it became an exclusive children's hospital just this past year.

Currently, the official Ronald McDonald "House" (part of Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada) that accommodates families requiring extended stays is closed for renovations, as they are expanding from 15 rooms to 40! Nevertheless, the RMH Family Room within the hospital is still open daily; and so, that's where Jonathan Mahood, myself, and the very talented children's illustrator & author, Patricia Storms (Chirp Magazine, Pirate and the Penguin), will be headed next Friday.

"Open to all children (and their families)

currently receiving the wonderful care of

McMaster Children's Hospital."

The lovely Family Services Coordinator, Linda Pordham, whom I met in person yesterday while dropping off printed copies of the above poster, is going to be passing the word on to the kids, families, and medical staff. We have no idea how many kids will be willing and able to show up. It may be 3 ... It may be 30.

But the numbers don't matter. So long as our programme helps bring a few smiles to the kids' faces, then I'll consider it a success.

I can't wait!

- Mike Cope

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 NCS Divisional Awards Call for Entries (UPDATED)

From the National Cartoonists Society's official website ...

The National Cartoonists Society is starting it’s annual call for entries for consideration for their NCS Divisional Awards recognizing excellence in professional cartooning. As always, you DO NOT have to be a member of the NCS to have your work considered for a divisional award… all that is required is that the work be eligible as detailed below.

New this year is a division for Online Comic Strip… see this post for the details on this new category.

Below you will find a list of the juries which will judge the categories, the jury chair and the address to which you will send your entry. As always, NO EMAIL SUBMISSIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED, with the exception of Online Comics, which allows an emailed PDF submission. Below is a short recap of several rules and guidelines, which govern the awards:

Please remember only recent work can be considered. This means work published between the dates of December 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011.

Please submit published tear sheets when possible and document when and where the work was published. Online Comics should provide links for verification.

Online comic creators and their comics must adhere to the following criteria for eligibility:

  • Comic-strip format only (no single panels, long-form narrative. etc.)
  • Originally published in English or pantomime
  • Must be web only publication (any syndication in print would make it eligible for the Newspaper Comic Strip Division)
  • Must be at least a weekly
  • Must have shown consistent publication based on determined time-schedule (i.e. it being a daily, twice-a-week, weekly, etc) over the course of the 2011 calendar year
  • Creator must earn the greater part of their living directly from the strip/property in order to adhere to the NCS criteria that creators under consideration must be either full members or eligible for full membership

If your syndicated cartoon runs in both strip and panel format you can submit to one of those divisions, not both (your choice).

Your submissions must be submitted to their respective locations by February 6, 2012.

List of Juries and Submission Addresses:

Cartoonists are invited to submit their work (or the work of anyone else) no later than February 6, 2012, for consideration for one or more of the following Division Awards:

Submit one or more samples in VHS or DVD format of aired or exhibited work that was released in the year 2011 to: Chad Frye, 518 E. Cypress Ave. #C, Burbank, CA 91501 (

Submit one or more samples in VHS or DVD format of aired or exhibited work that was released in the year 20101to: David Folkman, NCS Los Angeles Chapter, 6171 W. Century Blvd. #160, Los Angeles, CA 90045 (

Submit up to 6 samples of 2011 published work to: Polly Keener, NCS Great Lakes Chapter, 400 W. Fairlawn Blvd., Akron, OH 44313-4510 (

Submit up to 12 samples of 2011 published work to: Mark Parisi, NCS New England Chapter, 16 Slayton Rd., Melrose, MA 02176 (

Submit up to 6 samples of 2011 published work to: Mike Edholm, NCS North Central Chapter, 2108 Sandstone Road, Lincoln, NE 68512 (

Submit up to 12 samples of 2011 published work to: Rob Smith, Jr., NCS Florida Chapter, PO Box 540103, Orlando, FL 32854-0103 (

Submit up to 12 samples of 2011 published work to: Mike Cope, NCS Canada Chapter, 46 Church Street, Stoney Creek, Ontario, CANADA, L8E 2X8 (

Submit up to 6 samples of 2011 published work to: Brian Walker, NCS Connecticut Chapter, 34 Forge Rd, Wilton, CT 06897 (

Send up to 6 samples of 2011 published work to: Adrian Sinnott, NCS Long Island Chapter, 27 East 24th Street, Huntington Station, NY 11746-3701 (

Submit 12-20 samples of 2011 published work to: Jack Pittman, NCS Southeast Chapter, 1740 Brooks Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27607-6618 (

Submit up to 4 samples of 2011 published and marketed work to: Tom Stemmle, NCS New Jersey Chapter, 184 Richards Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (

Submit up to 3 samples of 2011 published work to: Bill Morrison, 786 Twillin Ct., Simi Valley, CA 93065 (

Submit book(s) published in 2011 to: Mike Lynch, 61 Nutes Road, Milton, NH 03851-4800 (

Submit 12 samples, submitted via mail or as PDF with 2-4 strips per page and bio/entry form to: Ed Steckley, NCS National Representative, 43-07 39th Place, Apt. 3-F Sunnyside, NY 11104 (

Online Comics must also adhere to the following:

Once again: Each entry must be accompanied by a completed ENTRY FORM
and a BIO SHEET (click on links to download PDFs of both). ALL SUBMISSIONS (with the exception of the On-Line Comic Strip Divisions) MUST BE PRINTED AND MAILED. NO EMAIL SUBMISSIONS PLEASE.

All winners will be announced at the 66th Annual Reuben Awards Dinner at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa, Henderson, NV on May 26, 2012.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Belated 2011 Cartoons, Comics, and Illustrations Wrap-Up

Happy Belated New Year!

Needless to say, I've been a poor social networker lately. Between my regular cartooning work, freelance projects, and a growing family ... Well, here are some highlights from the last-quarter of 2011 that I failed to mention at the time ...


The gag cartoon above was published in the October 2011 issue of Reader's Digest Canada Magazine. It's one of my personal favourites because I used to put my daughter in a front-facing baby carrier while I vacuumed the house. That is, until her legs got too long and became a health hazard to my own well-being.

In October, the WebVoyagers made their way to Churchill, Manitoba in "Ice Time For Polar Bears" (Published in The Canadian Reader by LesPlan Educational Services Ltd.). You can find larger copies of each page in My Portfolio.

October was also an interesting month for freelance projects. A fellow cartoonist, whom I've known for a few years, called me one night and explained he was wanting to relax during his retirement a little more, but had a client he didn't want to leave hanging high and dry. The client runs a PR firm in California, and so, the following is the cover of his company's 2011 Greeting Card that I illustrated ...

... As fate would have it, my relationship with this client has continued to grow, and so, I intend to share samples from other projects I've done for them in up-coming posts. To young cartoonists, I think it's important to express gratitude to those who help "find/refer" you clients. More on that in a future post!


Now, this particular gag cartoon (Published in the November 2011 issue of Reader's Digest Canada Magazine) is also a personal favourite, because it was inspired by a visit to my Grandfather. He'd been having issues with a new set of dentures not fitting (even after multiple corrections), and so, I dedicated this one to him and treated him to dinner as a thank you for the idea. With hindsight, treating someone with denture problems to food is a little insensitive!

In November, the WebVoyagers visited both Cirque Du Soleil and Canada's National Circus School in "Joining the Circus!" (Published in The Canadian Reader by LesPlan). I always enjoy illustrating these comics, but this one was especially fun to draw.

Larger copies of all 3 pages can be found in My Portfolio, as well larger samples of these Home Lab experiments that I illustrated for the November/December 2011 issues of KNOW: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids and YES Mag: The Science Magazine for Adventurous Minds ...


In December, the WebVoyagers visited Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canada's Governor General, David Johnston. In the event that His Excellency ever sees a copy of the comic, I hope he approves his caricature -- they're not really my specialty!

And finally, here's my most recent Class Acts gag cartoon, published in the December 2011 issue of Professionally Speaking Magazine by The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) ...

... I heard from a number of teachers (especially from Elementary/Public Schools) who said they could relate to this one. After all, with a ban on all pop and junk food in most schools, I figure Santa Claus isn't exactly a healthy role model :)

Stay TOONed!

- Mike Cope