In light of yesterday’s announcement of James Kochalka being appointed “country’s first ever” Cartoonist Laureate in Vermont, it appears that one other state has previously named a cartoonist laureate, Chad Carpenter. And what state would that be? Alaska. That’s right, the 50th state in terms of population density per square mile named a Cartoonist Laureate before states like Oregon, Washington, California, New York and the ever-burgeoning Vermont. These states are pregnant with cartoonists, illustrators, animators and graphic novelists. When asked about the erroneous credit The Center For Cartoon Studies co-founder, James Sturm, stated, “I should have known. Alaska is the only state in the country that has a longer cartooning season than Vermont.” For those down south, cartooning season lasts as long as there is snow on the ground and whiskey in your mug.

So, calling all states (aside from Vermont and Alaska) to step up to the plate. Creators and publishers, rustle up some enthusiasm not just for books sales but the love of the medium! Fans, get into it! Create a committee (possibly with the backing of a trusted cartooning institution in your state) and don’t just wait for a bill to pass through your local government. Select a cartoonist who not only creates influential or a large volume work but gives back to the community. Then publicly celebrate that cartoonist to the best of your abilities.

Please email me once you have a cartoonist in your state selected as Cartoonist Laureate (or if you need help choosing one) and definitely send the details of the celebration so that all may revel in our shared love of comics. And remember, you’ll have a lot of cartoonists worthy of the title but you can always name another laureate.

Jen Vaughn is a proud voting citizen of Vermont and past citizen of Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Kansas and New York. She hopes to be a citizen of The Future.


  1. It’s not too difficult to get political recognition from your local or state government. NYCC usually runs congratulatory letters from the Governor and Mayor of New York state/city in their program book.

    State legislatures frequently issue resolutions honoring high school championships and other notable achievements. As for laureates, the position usually requires legislative action. Petition the state library commission, as well as regional cultural associations. They can shepherd the notion through the red tape maze of government.

    Some states also have honorary organizations, such as The Great Navy of the State of Nebraska, which are a bit easier to achieve. (Chuck Jones was so honored when he visited Lincoln for a film festival.)

  2. I think that Chad’s the only cartoonist in Alaska, so he won it by default. They lucked out that he was also really good at it. Their poet laureate, on the other hand, is still in third grade.

  3. “Or Phil Hester. Or Geof Darrow.”

    I considered mentioning Phil, but he doesn’t seem crazy about inking his own stuff, and for some reason I always thinking of a cartoonist inking as well as drawing.

    But didn’t Darrow move out of Iowa decades ago?

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