EVEN AS Terri Libenson receives recognition, the mind of the cartoonist naturally gravitates toward the punch line.
Her syndicated feature “The Pajama Diaries” has just been named a finalist for the National Cartoonists Society‘s Silver Reuben award. Her fellow finalists in the Newspaper Strips category are “Lio” creator Mark Tatulli and “Pearls Before Swine” creator Stephan Pastis.
“I’ve got some tough competition, for sure. But it’s okay,” Libenson assures with a wink. “I’ve hired some goons to take Mark and Stephan out.”
“I’m not afraid,” Pastis tells us with his retort of a punch line. “I can still win posthumously.”
Forty-six cartoonists and titles in 14 categories have just been named 2015 divisional nominees as part of the NCS’s Reuben Awards, which some consider “the Golden Globes of comics.” (Many now consider the Eisners, by comparison, to be the Oscars of the comics industry.)
That nickname could bode well for Pixar’s “Inside Out,” which is nominated in the Feature Animation category; earlier this year, the Pixar film actually won the Golden Globe, as well as the Oscar.
“It’s really due to comics that I got into animation to begin with,” “Inside Out” director-writer Pete Docter tells The Post’s Comic Riffs, “so to be nominated by these amazingly talented cartoonists is amazing!”
The other animated-feature finalists are Ale Abreu’s Oscar-nominated “Boy and the World” and Blue Sky Studios/Sony’s Golden Globe-nominated “The Peanuts Movie,” directed by Steve Martino.
“After receiving two Reuben Awards in his lifetime, I think my dad would be thrilled that his beloved characters have once again been nominated for an NCS award,” says Craig Schulz, who co-write the “Peanuts Movie” script with son Bryan Schulz and Cornelius Uliano, based on the comic strip created by his father, Charles M. “Sparky” Schulz.
Leading the field is Australia-based artist Anton Emdin, who is nominated for Newspaper Illustration, Advertising/Product Illustration and Magazine/Feature Illustration.
“I’m amazed, overwhelmed and most of all totally honored to be nominated in three [Silver] Reubens categories — especially considering the high quality of work over all the categories,” Emdin tells Comic Riffs.
Elsewhere, Dave Kellett is nominated twice, for both long-form (“Drive”) and short-form (“Sheldon”) online comics.
“It’s a huge honor to be listed among cartoonists I know and respect as working at the top of their game,” Kellett tells Comic Riffs. “And to have both of my strips … be nominated at the same time is such fun! Now I need to throw a shiv between them, and make my two strips fight for my love.”
Also nominated in two categories is Glen Le Lievre, for Newspaper Illustration and Gag Cartoons.
“At last, my enormous talent and good looks are being recognized,” says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mike Luckovich, before — true to cartoonists’ form — adding his own kicker: “As you can see, I have nothing intelligent to offer.” He is nominated for Political Cartoons alongside Michael Ramirez of Investor’s Business Daily and The Post’s Ann Telnaes.
The winners will be announced May 28 at the NCS Reuben Awards ceremony in Memphis.
Here is the complete list of “Silver Reuben” nominees:
“Pearls Before Swine”
“The Argyle Sweater”
“The Flying McCoys”
“Boy and the World”
“The Peanuts Movie”
“Tumble Leaf” (Amazon) — Drew Hodges
“Puffin Rock” (Netflix) — Maurice Joyce
“Zack & Quack” (Nick Jr.) — Gili Dolev and Yvette Kaplan
Glen Le Lievre
Giant Days (Boom Box) — Max Sarin
Prez (DC Comics) — Ben Caldwell
Squirrel Girl (Marvel) — Erica Henderson
“Nanjing the Burning City” (Dark Horse) — Ethan Young
“New Deal” (Dark Horse) — Jonathan Case
“Two Brothers” (Dark Horse) — Gabriel Ba
ONLINE LONG FORM COMICS
Drive (Dave Kellett)
The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo (Drew Weing)
Octopus Pie (Meredith Gran)
ONLINE SHORT-FORM COMICS
Kevin & Kell (Bill Holbrook)
Sheldon (Dave Kellett)
“Smick” — Juana Medina
“Sidewalk Flowers” — Sydney Smith
“The First Case” — Gitte Spee