In 1955, Rube Goldberg won the Gold T-Square Award. The name T-square has references to both art and engineering because the tool from which it is named is used in steadying lines. However, the award itself was actually established solely for the artistic contributions. The Gold T-Square is awarded to cartoonists who have served at least fifty years of professional service. At this point, only two people had won the Gold T-Square, Rube in 1955 and Mort Walker in 1999. People are still yet to see other cartoonists make it to fifty years.
On record, the very first cartoonists, or people who worked at similar jobs, were only heard of in the eighteenth century. William Hogarth was one such satirist and editorial cartoonist of that time. The panel-type cartoons that we are now familiar with started becoming popular in the twentieth century, the turn of which Rube Goldberg was witness to. There were still very few people that could then boast of fifty years or more of professional cartooning.
This means that Rube Goldberg had one of the most illustrious and longest professional careers as a cartoonist. The Gold T-Square served not just a sign of his skill as a cartoonist but also as a sign of his dedication to the field of journalism and cartooning.
Because the Gold T-Square Award is very rare and probably would not be given to that many cartoonists in the future, there is also a Silver T-Square Award. The Silver T-Square Award ensures that even if a cartoonist does not make it to fifty years of professional service, he will still be rewarded for his dedication to his profession and the National Society of Cartoonists. After all, there must be some provision given to artists who had started out late but had produced some pretty impressive works once they did get started. At least the recipients for this particular award are pretty numerous; sometimes, there are even multiple awardees in just one year. We could probably hope for more longevity in future cartoonists so that we can see more people step up to the Gold T-Square, which is a testament of a cartoonist’s longevity, dedication and creativity.
The T-Square Awards started being awarded to cartoonists in 1948, with the first Gold handed out to Rube Goldberg in 1955. With the last Gold awarded more than a decade ago, we could not help but wonder when the next one will be given out.
It is worth noting that the Gold T-Square Award is not just given out to just anyone who has been working as a professional cartoonist. It is gifted to those who have shown outstanding and dedicated service to the profession as well as to the National Cartoonists Society. With this additional criterion in mind, the Gold T-Square becomes even more difficult to achieve.
Of course, Rube Goldberg certainly deserved the award. Not only was he able to produce creative and diverse cartoons for more than fifty years but he was also active in supporting the ventures of the National Cartoonists Society.
The Banshee’s Silver Lady Award was given to Rube Goldberg in 1959, just four years after he was given the Gold T-Square. The Gold T-Square felt very final as it recognized years of professional contribution. So some may think that the Silver Lady Award was sort of anti-climactic - but it was not really. The Banshee’s Silver Lady Award may not celebrate a full career but it was very important in itself. It was designed to recognize freshness as well as creativity. This means that Goldberg was still producing phenomenal art even in later in life.
In 1959, Rube was already past seventy and yet he was still awarded the Banshee’s Silver Lady Award, which basically recognized fresh and original art. The cartoonist-engineer was still credited for his ability to churn out wacky, original comics. This was a special recognition because for someone who had been working professionally for decades, there should have been a tendency to stick with old formulas and to somehow come to a screeching halt when it came to producing fresh art. However, this was not the case with Rube Goldberg and the Silver Lady award was proof.
The Silver Lady award was the top yearly recognition given out by the Banshees. The Banshees is actually an organization made of communication executives, which also together formed a well-known New York luncheon club. The silver statuette that they gave out annually is given to the year’s best newspaper writer or artist. With such an award in 1959, Rube Goldberg’s recognition by the Banshees showed that he had caught the attention of the Banshees.
There’s something glamorous about a group of people meeting each other for lunch regularly, especially since we are talking about the Banshees. The Banshees had somehow passed on the stamp of glamor onto the works of Rube Goldberg.
Rube Goldberg continued to discover and spawn great ideas even through his later years. This was the man who started drawing cartoons professionally since the first decade of the twentieth century. Through the years, he was still able to come up with new art each time there was a need for it. The imaginative quality of his work was what made the Banshees choose him for the great honor. Examples of other Silver Lady recipients were editorial cartoonist Burris Jenkins Jr and Sentinel national columnist John Chamberlain.
The invention comic strips were enough evidence that Rube Goldberg was able to create original art all the time. His art did not just showcase how good he was at drawing but also how deeply and creatively he was able to think and come up with new things. Continue to next page.