Lots of fun things to do at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus
Some people turn movie stars or pop music icons into heroes.
Columbus cartoonist Jeff Smith, however, admired those who made a living with pen and ink.
In 1983, Smith, then a journalism student at Ohio State University, attended the first edition of what was then called the Festival of Cartoon Art, a triennial event that invited world-renowned cartoonists to come to Columbus for discuss their work.
“It had a huge impact on me,” said Smith, 61, the creator of the “Bone” comic book series and many other works, who lives in Columbus.
The festival allowed the neophyte to rub shoulders with masters of comics in all its iterations, from comics to comics and animation.
“There weren’t too many obstacles,” Smith said. “I have to meet Art Spiegelman, I have to meet Will Eisner (and) Sergio Aragones. … I learned so much.
As the co-founder and artistic director of the annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) – a sort of successor event to the Festival of Cartoon Art founded in 2015 – Smith aims to recreate the welcoming vibe of the original festival. Smith co-founded the event with his wife, Vijaya Iyer, and Lucy Shelton Caswell, founding curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
“CXC has always been able to bring in the biggest names in cartooning every year,” he said. “I love meeting designers because they are nice and likeable people 99% of the time. “
With lectures, panels and presentations scheduled at multiple venues across Greater Columbus, this year’s edition of CXC is not lacking in star power.
Highlights include a conversation between cartoonists Alison Bechdel and Hilary Price at 7:30 p.m. on October 2 at Columbus College of Art & Design. During the talk, Bechdel – whose previous works include the graphic memoir “Fun Home,” which later became a Tony Award-winning musical – will discuss his latest graphic novel, a meditation on physical fitness titled “The secret of superhuman strength ”.
The event, said CXC interim executive director Jerzy Drozd, reflects the organizers’ efforts to reach audiences beyond comic book fans.
“It’s one thing to make an event that a group of cartoonists want to come to, but how do you connect that in a meaningful way with the audience? Drozd said. “(Bechdel’s book) has a fairly broad appeal. I don’t think there are a lot of people who don’t think about physical health.
Other events will appeal to comic book specialists as well as casual fans.
For example, at 1:30 p.m. on October 2 at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, cartoonist Shary Flenniken – famous for the comic strip “Trots and Bonnie” which was published in National Lampoon magazine – will give a fairly in-depth and heavy speech: ” The Semiology of Mickey Mouse.
“If you want to get into visual communication theory, this is for you,” Drozd said.
But another event with Flenniken, at 1 p.m. on October 3 at the library, will be much more widely accessible.
“She’s doing a program called ‘Character Design for Everyone’,” Drozd said. “You enter with a blank sheet of paper (and) exit with a realized character.”
Other events include discussion sessions on cartoon layout (11:30 a.m. September) and lettering (2:00 p.m. October 1, both at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum). Smith himself will be the recipient of questions during a discussion of his work at the Wexner Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. on October 1.
Smith doesn’t mind being the center of attention for the event, which is scheduled for the 30th anniversary of the founding of his publishing house, Cartoon Books, as well as the upcoming release of his latest releases, “TUKI : Fight for Fire ”and“ TUKI: Fight for the family ”.
“If I have a book to promote,” he said, “actually, I find it pretty funny.”
After going completely virtual last year due to the pandemic, CXC officials have incorporated many virtual events into this year’s festival, including a talk by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, authors of the graphic brief “When Stars Are Scattered », A story of Mohamed in a Somali refugee camp in his youth. The two will speak at a conference broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch at 10 a.m. on October 2.
“It’s a book for young people, which really emphasizes the immigrant experience and the refugee experience,” Drozd said. “Accessibility is important, and reaching people who cannot physically be here is important to us. “
Between the participants in person and the virtual viewers, the festival promises to reach a large and diverse audience.
“We like to say, ‘This festival will appeal to anyone who loves cartoons,” Smith said. “And everyone loves cartoons!” There is something for every taste.
In one look
Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) will take place from September 30 to October 3 at venues across Greater Columbus including the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus Museum of Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts. For a full schedule, ticket information and COVID-19 policies at the various sites, visit www.cartooncrossroadscolumbus.org.
All events are free, but tickets are required for some activities.