Cartoon Crossroads Columbus appoints Jay Kalagayan as new executive director


Every fall since its inception in 2015, Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) has brought together leading comic, comic, and graphic novel creators in the capital.

Among those who made the trip to Columbus for the annual event was Cincinnati resident Jay Kalagayan, who in addition to his longtime work in managing and raising funds with non-profit arts organizations lucrative, is also the creator of the comic strip “MeSseD”.

“In 2019, I was a salesperson (at CXC),” Kalagayan said. “I was so excited.… For me, CXC was just that big designer spotlight that I really wanted to be a part of.

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Now Kalagayan is set to become a permanent fixture at CXC: Last month, the organization announced that the 48-year-old Erie, Pa. Native will become its second executive director.

Kalagayan will fill the void left following the death of Tom Spurgeon, who had served as Executive Director of CXC from its inception until his death in November 2019. The 2020 and 2021 editions of CXC, which were fully or partially virtual, have been supervised by an interim executive director, cartoonist Jerzy Drozd.

“The (Kalagayan) fundraising experience is something that Tom and I have never had, I’ll tell you! Said Jeff Smith, cartoonist from Columbus, artistic director of CXC. The event includes a mix of lectures, panels, workshops and Q&A.

“We did quite a bit of interviewing with people (for the job), but Jay was the only one who was off the top of his head with ideas and things to do that we’re going to do,” Smith said. . “And on top of that, he’s a designer himself.”

Kalagayan, who plans to retain his current role as director of corporate and advanced gifts at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati part-time before relocating to Columbus permanently, was drawn to the job to combine his administrative experience. of the arts with his passion. for comics.

“This job is kind of a soft zone that just goes through,” he said. “It’s telling comic book stories and supporting artists, while doing everything I’m used to: writing these grants, it’s doing these financial reports, it’s doing the logistics of a event. “

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According to his account, Kalagayan started collecting comics when he was 9 years old.

“(My brother) would take me to the convenience store and there it was: the comic book roller stand,” he said. “Each shelf was like another world, another title. … I would try as many as possible.

In 2016, after decades of enjoying comics, Kalagayan created his own unique cartoon world with “MeSseD”. The heroine of the comic is Lilliput, an Asian American woman who works in the Metropolitan Sewerage District (whose acronym is referenced in the title of the comic).

“She is our tour guide to the strange, wild and humid world beneath our feet,” said Kalagayan, who writes the comic; illustrations are by Cincinnati artist Dylan Speeg.

Kalagayan, who praises what he calls the institutional “support structure” for comic book creators in Columbus, hopes to increase financial support and sponsorship from CXC.

“How can I get branded ice cream? ” he said. “How do I get a special CXC beer?” How can we work with the business world? And when a lot more COVID restrictions are gone, how do we build that as some kind of tourism engine? “

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Kalagayan – who, along with his wife Jan, is the parent of daughters Meghan, 14, and Serafina, 11 – said he wanted to attract visitors beyond Ohio’s main population centers.

“We really welcome people from, say, the Cs of Ohio – we get your Cincinnati (residents) and your Cleveland (residents) coming to Columbus for some of the big guests that we have,” he said. . “How do you get more tourists to come and make Columbus their place in the fall? “

Long-time entrants and new entrants alike will have the chance to see for themselves when the next edition of CXC takes place September 22-25.

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