Fifteen of the nation's top cartoonists, including Tom Richmond of MAD Magazine, Jeff Keane of the Family Circus, Mike Peters of Mother Goose and Grimm, Rick Kirkman of Baby Blues, Todd Clark of Lola, Mason Mastroianni of B.C. and more, will be in Boise on Dec. 1 for the “Guardian Ball,” a benefit for the Wyakin Warrior Foundation. The Treasure Valley foundation provides intensive services to severely wounded and injured veterans, including education, mentoring, professional development, networking and job placement; the wounded vets get full scholarships to Boise State University and the College of Western Idaho as part of the program. The scholarships run for 51 months - that's four years plus three months the summer before enrolling, when the severely wounded vets are helped out with housing, medical issues and orientation to prepare for college.
The benefit will be a black-tie gala with dinner, music and a live auction, at which the cartoonists will provide original art, caricatures and more; the event will be at the Boise Centre. Click here for more information, including ticket sales.
Interestingly, the connection between cartoonists and the Wyakin Warrior Foundation is an integral one: The foundation's founder, retired Navy Capt. Jeff Bacon, is a cartoonist himself, who's drawn cartoons for the Navy Times, Marine Corps Times and Military Times. “I organized USO trips to take the cartoonists around to visit the wounded troops and such,” Bacon said, “so all these guys are my friends, and I just asked them to come.”
Cartoonists have been visiting the troops since World War II, when they “bonded so much they formed the National Cartoonists Society, the largest professional organization for cartoonists in the country,” Bacon said. They went on USO trips during the Korea and Vietnam wars, and in 2005 started again for today's conflicts. Bacon and other cartoonists have visited wounded troops at military hospitals stateside, and cheered up troops in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. “So we've all gotten pretty close, just like the guys did in World War II really,” Bacon said, “so all I had to do was ask, and everybody said yes.”
As part of the benefit, a silent auction will begin online this Friday at the foundation's website, www.wyakin.org, for items ranging from cartoon art to trips.