Early in 1987, a small group of professional cartoonists came together to form The Memphis Cartoonists Group. The name didn’t stick. By December of that year, for the third meeting and first official newsletter, the name had become The Mid-South Cartoonist Association (MSCA). The name has since remained unchanged, with the exception of the word ‘Cartoonist’ becoming plural in 2000.
The group was created to bring together cartooning professionals, aspiring professionals and enthusiasts of all ages. Cartoonist and instructor Jack Cassady is now remembered to be the founder, but others who played a large role in the origins of the organization are:
Syndicated editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis (Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Birmingham News, syndicated strips ‘Prickly City’ and ‘The Buckets’)
Cartoonist Sam Ray (The Commercial Appeal, The Wall Street Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, contributing writer on the syndicated strip ‘Hagar the Horrible’),
Cartoonist Frank Cotham (The New Yorker, Penthouse Magazine)
Artist / Cartoonist / Instructor Artiek Smith (University of Memphis, Memphis College of Art)
Illustrator Charles Tuthill (The Commercial Appeal)
Other big cartooning names have filled or have risen from our ranks over the years, including:
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated editorial cartoonist Michael P. Ramirez (Investor’s Business Daily, Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine)
Freelance artist Mike Norton (DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Devil’s Due Publishing, Battlepug web comic, Four Star Studios)
Freelance artist Scott Clark (DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, BOOM! Studios)
Freelance artist Jim Hall (Dark Horse Comics, Marvel Comics)
Freelance artist Dean Zachary (Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics)
Freelance artist Dave Beaty (DC Comics, Marvel Comics, BOOM! Studios)
Since its origins, the group has put its creative strengths behind various cartooning classes, appearances and fundraisers. Cartoonists have visited the kids at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Memphis Ronald McDonald House. MSCA members supplied the web cartoons for Rock 103’s ‘The Funny Pages’ and dozens of other projects. Cartoon art shows presented by the MSCA have hung in venues around the metropolitan Memphis area including Mud Island, The National Civil Rights Museum, and Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects with more planned for the near future.
The MSCA has also been involved with two small one day BYOT (Bring Your Own Table) dealer room comic shows called TIMMYCON! at Nightmarez..STAGE FRIGHT! haunted house in Bartlett, and a larger 2 day “learning convention” called Con-Sequential held at the Southwest Community College in Memphis which included “Cartooniversity” classes for attendees taught by MSCA members and guest instructors from the comic and animation industries. Many members also attend the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL and teach cartooning seminars there each June in “Artists Alley/Writers Way”, and can be seen doing panels at the local sci-fi literature convention Midsouthcon in Memphis.
The MSCA has published two group anthology comic books- It Came From Beneath The Drawing Board and Overdrawn and Underwritten.
That’s not all! Many of our current members are building names for themselves teaching, working, publishing and reaching for cartoon stardom. The future is–well–funny!
Whether young or old, published or aspiring, if you love cartoons and cartooning we’’d love to meet you! MSCA dinner meetings are held on the 1st Thursday of each month at Garibaldi’s Pizza near the University of Memphis campus at 3530 Walker Ave, Memphis, TN 38111 from 7-9pm. These meetings are free and open to the public, and we invite you to come by and introduce yourself. Be sure to bring some of your cartoons to show around, a Sharpie marker to draw on napkins with, and a few bucks to order off the menu- you’ll be glad you did!