The Society was conceived in 1946 when groups of cartoonists got together to entertain the troops, found that they enjoyed each other's company, and decided to get together on a regular basis.
Today, the NCS membership roster includes over 500 of the world's major cartoonists, working in many branches of the profession, including newspaper comic strips and panels, comic books, editorial cartoons, animation, gag cartoons, greeting cards, advertising, magazine and book illustration, and more.
Membership is limited to established professional cartoonists, with a few exceptions of outstanding persons in affiliated fields. The NCS is not a guild or union, although they have joined forces from time to time to fight for members' rights, and they regularly use their talents to help worthwhile causes.
Through the Society, NCS members have continued to serve the nation in person and through their art. Teams of cartoonists have toured war zones and military installations around the world in cooperation with the USO. Others have entertained at VA hospitals. NCS members have also contributed to many U.S. government programs; their efforts have benefitted NASA, USIA, the Treasury Department Savings Bond division, and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. Other beneficiaries have been the Boy Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, and the United Nations.
The tradition of lending their talents to worthy causes continues to this day. In 2001, for example, NCS members in the syndicated community dedicated their newspaper strips and panels to a Thanksgiving initiative that raised over $50,000 for victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorism, and members contributed a further $18,000 through the proceeds of a private auction.