Isabella Bannerman is one of the six female cartoonists making up King Feature’s popular “Six Chix” strip
I’m happy to report that cartoonist Isabella Bannerman, whom we profiled two years ago, has just won this year’s Reuben award for “Best Newspaper Comic Strip” from the National Cartoonists Society.
Bannerman is one of the six female cartoonists making up King Feature’s popular “Six Chix” strip, which is syndicated to 100 newspapers worldwide (and is also available online.) Bannerman has contributed the Monday cartoon (and as well as many Sunday strips) to the feature since it began in 1999.
To be considered for the Reuben, Bannerman had to submit a dozen cartoons published in 2013, which were then evaluated by a jury made up of other artists. Her favorite of the batch? This cartoon about texting:
So what inspired it?
“I was concerned about the danger of texting while driving,“ Bannerman says. “Texting and walking is a lot less scary than texting while driving, so it seemed better for a cartoon. Everyone is familiar with “The Road Not Taken.” I liked the way the words of the poem fit with the sight gag.”
Another winning cartoon was this critique of a current bestseller.
“I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ — and just reading it made me tired!” says Bannerman. “Sandberg wants women to do more. Speak up more! Sit at the table! Lean in when we do sit at the table! She’s clearly a super high energy person — after all, the woman is a former aerobics instructor. While I have no problem with her message, for a less energetic person, all that pushing and leaning sounded exhausting. I decided to reference that old hair spray ad — ‘She conked out but her hair held up!’ Even as a kid, I found that ad weird and funny.”
Still another cartoon pokes fun at an aspect of contemporary life many of us will recognize:
“I’m old enough to remember when yoga didn’t require a lot of equipment,” Bannerman says. “Maybe, at most, a beach towel. So when I recently found myself in a crowded yoga class that involved hauling a small household’s worth of equipment to my spot, I found it funny.”
Bannerman was 38 when “Six Chix” began. Now she’s 53. How has her work changed? “I’m doing fewer gags about little kids and more gags about living with teenagers,” she says. “And more strips about aches and pains, going to the doctor and trying to live in a healthier way. But her outlook has also changed. “These days I also do more editorializing about larger issues, like pollution and climate change,” she says. “When your kids are young you’re completely absorbed in the minutiae of their world. Now that my kids are older, I’m able to look around and take a broader perspective.”
The best thing about being a syndicated cartoonist? “I never take for granted that I have an outlet to express my thoughts and my feelings,” says Bannerman. “I love having the freedom to say whatever I want.” And an audience, including her fellow cartoonists, who can’t wait to see what she has to say.
(This essay first appeared on www.womensvoicesforchange.org.)
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