Comic-strippers from the West have run the table.
The National Cartoonists Society has just announced the finalists for the 2013 Reuben Award, and all three will have a long flight to Pittsburgh in May for the ceremony.
The nominees are “Pickles” creator Brian Crane, “Baby Blues” co-creator Rick Kirkman and “Pearls Before Swine” creator Stephan Pastis.
“It kind of caught me by surprise,” Crane tells Comic Riffs on Thursday of the news, “but it’s a great honor and I appreciate it very much.
“I am a big fan of the other nominees ... ,” continues the Nevada-based cartoonist, whose has been up for the Reuben twice before. “With that kind of competition, I don’t plan on clearing a space on my mantel for a Reuben any time soon.”
His “Pickles” is syndicated by The Washington Post News Service to more than 800 newspapers, and won the NCS’s Best Newspaper Comic Strip award in 2001.
“I am honored to be nominated alongside Brian Crane,” the Northern California-based Pastis — up for seven previous Reubens — tells Comic Riffs. “But I am not familiar with that Kirkman fellow.” (Pastis and Kirkman, for the record, have gone on NCS/USO tours to the Middle East together.)
“Pearls Before Swine” is syndicated by Universal Uclick to more than 650 papers, and won the Best Newspaper Comic Strip award in 2003 and 2006.
“It’s an honor to be nominated,” Kirkman, a first-time Reuben finalist, tells Comic Riffs. “It really is nice to have that recognition from my peers. Just a mere 50 years ago, I was copying drawings from my favorite cartoonists out of the paper.
“Not only am I a fan of both ‘Pickles’ and ‘Pearls,’ “ continues Kirkman, “but my parents told me they love both of them, too. That worries me.”
Kirkman co-created “Baby Blues” with Jerry Scott, who received the Reuben in 2001. King Features syndicates the strip to more than 1,200 papers. The Arizona-based Kirkman also co-produced the animated “Baby Blues” show for the WB and Cartoon Network.
The Reuben (named for the legendary Rube Goldberg) will be presented May 25 at the NCS awards dinner in Pittsburgh.