The call so blindsided "Cul de Sac" cartoonist Richard Thompson, he says he didn't even quite understand the news.
National Cartoonists Society prez Jeff Keane was calling to tell Thompson that he was a finalist for the Reuben "Cartoonist of the Year" Award, the biggie -- the organization's Oscar.
"I sure didn't see it coming -- it was completely out of the blue," the Virginia resident tells Comic Riffs. "At first I didn't know what [Keane] was talking about. Then I thought he meant I'd been nominated for one of the division [awards]."
Thompson is one of three finalists for the Reuben; the others are repeat nominees Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine") and Dan Piraro ("Bizarro").
"It's a huge honor to just be named with those guys," Pastis tells 'Riffs.
Pastis launched "PBS" about a decade ago and Piraro began "Bizarro" in the '80s. Thompson's "Cul de Sac" will mark its third anniversary in September.
The NCS says its divisional award categories will be announced "sometime in March." The winners will be announced at the 64th Annual Reuben Awards dinner on May 29 in New Jersey.
Thompson says the news "gave me confidence for a few minutes, at least." As for "facing off" against his fellow nominees, he says: "Congratulations to them! I'm scared to say who I think it will go, but I will say: I think I'll have to pull 'a Marisa Tomei' to win."
Thompson also notes that he's not currently a member of the National Cartoonists Society. Will he re-join if he wins?
"I guess I should -- it would look pretty ungrateful if I didn't."