“IT SEEMS that the best things in life come as a surprise gift.”

Glen Keane is talking about the recent laurels that have come his way after decades of laboring away.

As an artist, Keane is officially a “Disney Legend,” having begun at the House of Mouse in 1977 to work on “The Rescuers” and going on to animate title characters for such films as “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Pocahontas.” Now, six years after he retired from Disney Animation Studios, he wasn’t expecting his recent run of recognition.

In March, Keane won the Academy Award for his animated short “Dear Basketball,” based on a retirement love letter penned by NBA legend Kobe Bryant. And a week ago, he received the Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society as outstanding cartoonist of the year.

“2018 is a year I will never forget,” Keane tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I never imagined either the Oscar or the Reuben were in my future.”

“We all work long hours creating our art, listening for that quiet voice inside that says: ‘You can stop now. You’ve done the best you can do,’ ” said Keane, who also spent more than a decade developing the project that became 2010’s “Tangled.” “This is the reward of personal satisfaction, and there is tremendous joy in this. But receiving recognition from my peers for that same work leaves me speechless.”

Keane notes that the Reuben Award holds a special place in his heart because of his father, “Family Circus” creator Bil Keane, and his brother Jeff Keane, a past NCS president who continues “Family Circus.”

Bil and Glen Keane are the first father and son to win the Reuben Award. The “Family Circus” creator received the honor in 1982.

“In my home as a kid, the Reuben Award was always the ultimate symbol of artistic recognition,” Glen Keane said. “I saw in my dad’s eyes how much the NCS meant to him. I never dreamed I ever could, or ever would, receive such an honor.”

In his acceptance speech at a ceremony in Philadelphia, Keane spoke of the two men he calls his greatest mentors: “My dad and Ollie Johnston, one of Walt Disney’s [famed] Nine Old Men.”

“The advice they both gave me often dovetailed into practically the same words, which if I boiled it down to one word, it would be ‘sincerity.’ This was the key to their success.”

“I am thankful and humbled,” Keane added, “knowing that years like this are once-in-a-lifetime years.”

On Saturday, the NCS announced its final list of the winners of the divisional awards, or Silver Reubens. They are:

Newspaper Panel: Mark Parisi, “Off the Mark.”

Newspaper Comic Strip: Mike Peters, “Mother Goose and Grimm.”

Editorial Cartoons: Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press/WPWG.

Gag Cartoons: Pat Byrnes.

Online Comic Strips, Long Form: John Allison, “Bad Machinery.”

Online Comic Strips, Short Form: Gemma Correll.

Television Animation: Alan Bodner, art director, Disney’s “Tangled, the Series.”

Feature Animation: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, Disney/Pixar’s “Coco.”

Graphic Novels: Emil Ferris, “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters.”

Comic Books: Sana Takeda, “Monstress.”

Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration: Peter Kuper.

Newspaper Illustration: Dave Whamond.

Advertising and Product Illustration: Dave Whamond.

Book Illustration: Adam Rex, “The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors.”

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