Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 11, 2019

Cartoon Crossroads Columbus Announces Special Guest List And Programming Themes For 2019 Festival


As many of you know, one of my jobs is that I am currently the Executive Director For Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), a non-profit organization based in Columbus, Ohio that runs a four-day comics and animation festival in the Fall. This year will be our fifth show.

I believe we are unique in that the exact dates of the show depends first on when our college football team is out of town, and the second and third criteria rest on what weekends are being used by convention juggernauts Small Press Expo and New York Comic-Con. I am sure this landscape will evolve over the next few years because festivals and conventions is still an area for growth in an industry that looks to be heading into a cycle without a lot of such areas. But for now if we're not at peak conventions/festivals we are near that apex.

Today is a travel day for me headed to another show, Comic-Con International in San Diego. So with me tucked on a plane, I hope you don't mind my taking a gigantic, self-absorbed digression with the space provided here to talk about this year's CXC show. Last month we held our local launch party including announcements of our 2019 dates, our initial round of guests, and some of the themes. Here's my blog post about those announcements.

CXC 2019 is September 26-29, with affiliated events a possibility each day from September 23-25 and definitely one on the 25th.

imageWe will kick off the weekend on the evening of September 25th with animator and cartoonist Jay Stephens in a conversation about his work with CXC board member and very skilled cartoonist in his own right Rafael Rosado. CR is sponsoring that event. I am a huge Jay Stephens fan in whatever media he choose to use, and have a particular fondness for his comic book work in the 1990s with Black Eye. There may be more week-of events Sunday through Wednesday as the calendar takes shape.


On Thursday, September 26, CXC moves its show to the Ohio State University campus in and around the glorious Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. There are two exhibits at the Billy CXC 2019 weekend: Drawing Blood: Comics And Medicine, about that growing area of interest for practitioners of the medium, and Front Line: Editorial Cartoonists And The First Amendment, co-curated by absolute heavy-hitters BILCM founding curator Lucy Caswell in partnership with Ann Telnaes, the Pulitzer-winning and Reuben-winning cartoonist, the person I think is the political cartoonist of the current day.

imageTelnaes is part a strong Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) contingent that are having their yearly convention in Columbus during the show and will appear on the Expo floor and in programming and events throughout. We are so happy to have them and their important work during a time of transitional change and raised stakes for that entire, honorable profession. One highlight will be a dual CXC/AAEC programming track on Saturday at CXC's Expo in the CML Main Library's beautiful Carnegie Room which will really dig into the state of that cartooning tradition and its current challenges, but they will have a presence at nearly every event. CXC is contributing to their number by having as a special guest Matt Bors of The Nib. Recent news suggests we will have a lot to talk about with Matt and some other Nib cartoonists in attendance as exhibitors.

We will also welcome back our sister-show of the last half-decade for 2019. SOL-CON is a Latinx and African-American devoted show that has combined events with us since 2015 while also running excellent panels, presentations and educational events of their own. This year they'll be adding an academic symposium on Wednesday and emphasizing a Thursday event featuring a pairing of two more CXC 2019 special guests: the great veteran alt-comics cartoonist Ho Che Anderson and rising superstar comics-maker and animator Ezra Claytan Daniels.

Thursday is also the day CXC features animation at the Film/Video theater at the Wexner Center For The Arts. The afternoon screening will be a selection of curated and historically significant British cartoons. At night Ezra Claytan Daniels will take the stage and present with partner and Special Guest Adebukola Bodunrin for a selection of their beautiful and afrofuturism-informed animation collaborations. That work is stunning and I'm looking forward to seeing it on the big screen and hearing them talk about it. SOL-CON's on-campus reception is that evening as well. Welcome to Columbus, everyone.

CXC's Friday is traditionally one of our stronger days, as we transition from our campus setting of Thursday and Friday and into our downtown Expo events. SOL-CON runs their educational programming: Columbus school kids interacting with SOL CON artists, while the Billy Ireland runs tours of its amazing facilities, presents an extra round of art selected by special guests for view in its reading room, and runs presentations by guests on issues peer-to-peer concerns. This year will feature artists from the Billy's Graphic Medicine exhibit in the morning and then a screening of Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End in the early afternoon.


Friday accelerates in the later afternoon, as we stay at the Film/Video theater at the Wexner Center for our Keynote presentation. The Keynote encapsulates our aspirations for this year's festival through a smart, engaged look at formidable artist that embodies the best in the art form. This year, CXC presents Mike Mignola, a once-in-a-generation talent as a designer, illustrator and comics creator through Hellboy and related projects, in conversation with our co-founder and Artistic Director, Jeff Smith, a not unimpressive monster-maker of his own. A signing will follow, as the show proper transitions to its traditional Billy Ireland reception, where at least one award will be given out in addition to the good times being had as all of our various groups meet under one roof. It's a great time to catch up on those exhibits if you haven't seen it yet.

Following the reception and across from the Billy on Friday evening, in the hallowed Mershon Auditorium, CXC is proud to present our Friday Main Event: a presentation and subsequent signing by Dav Pilkey. Pilkey's had one of the most successful careers in recent comics history, and his vibrant work on multiple series, including Captain Underpants and Dog Man, have defined in a major way the groundbreaking return of comics to all ages work from major national publishers. I am extremely interested in meeting and hearing from the cartoonist, and I no doubt share that feeling with a huge audience of young people and people that grew up as young people with the earlier Pilkey comics.

On Saturday, we move downtown and open the 2019 CXC Expo, a more traditional tables and panels show at our beautiful main library facility downtown. There is a curated show of comics-makers of about 120-130 people on hand. This year that will include a healthy AAEC and full SOL-Con contingent with tables and panels, but also full tracks of programming from LGBTQ creators and about attendant interests for that part of our community, and daily full tracks related to all-ages comics including more hands-on activities for the next genearation of cartoon makers.

On Sunday, CMA/CCAD residency winner Ivy Atoms will interview with Carta Monir at the Columbus Museum of Art at 11 AM. Atoms' exhibit will be up that morning, a free day at the library. That work should be fascinating in a museum context, and I look forward to that interview.

This is the main thrust of the special guests part of our show, the esteemed cartoonists who will exhibit at the EXPO but also be the main thrust of the programming held in and around the library. We will be very proud to add to our line-up over the weekend this staggering array of talent:


* Natasha Alterici (courtesy of Laughing Ogre) [image above]
* Robb Armstrong (courtesy of GoComics)
* Mary Fleener
* Jaime Hernandez
* Hellen Jo
* Patrick McDonnell
* Terry Moore
* Nate Powell
* P. Craig Russell

I couldn't be happier nor more humbled by this group, the heart of CXC 2019. Programming details to come.

At this writing, we also expect a weekend presence for all of the guests from the Thursday and Friday events listed above save for Mr. Pilkey, who is Friday-only and Jay Stephens, who is here Wednesday through Friday. Ms. Budonrin is an animation-only guest but she is invited to stay for any day she wants. Information guest to guest as to panels, tables, signings will appear well before September as we move into our Expo programming phase.

All events and guests are subject to change, of course. Part of that we'll do on purpose. We hope to add four or so additional guests and there will be a few featured guests in our number worth noting as we get closer to the show. For instance, I'm hoping Kevin Huizenga will stop by the Expo in support of his massive Ganges book, The River At Night; and I hope our old pal Frank Santoro will make a similar, drop-in appearance on behalf of Pittsburgh.


I'm happy with this very deeply talented group. The skill level and star power is staggering. Another thing I like about it is that we have a variety of expressions represented, but also that we seemed to have lucked out with some wonderful visually-oriented artists and cartoon maker. We also have significant career milestones this year for McDonnell (a 25th anniversary) and Moore (a wrap-up series connecting a bunch of his books), both still at the top of their creative game. Throw in some of our regular guests like Comics Workbook, Fantagraphics, Jeff Smith and Cartoon Books, and that should be quite the room. We will give out our Emerging Talent Prize, a yearly highlight sponsored by Jeff Smith and Vijaya Iyer, on Saturday mid-afternoon, right on the show floor. Last year's Emerging Talent winner Keren Katz will be there and provided art for this year's poster, which I love.

I hope that you'll consider coming. There's an event here for you. Our motto is that everybody leaves with something, whether that's comics, or art, or some sort of insight into the creative process, or information about how to protect yourself as a creator, or maybe just an excellent lunch at Ray Rays Hog Pit. (It's a great guest list, but don't sleep on Ray Rays.) Fun is a big part of comics festivals and conventions. Events like this can be fun as well as useful.

Comics culture has a lot of great shows now and more coming all the time. I hope you'll consider making ours a part of your year.

Thanks for past, present and future contributions to all our partners here in Columbus: our donors, our exhibiting guests, our special guests and our regular attendees. We hope to give you the best weekend we can, and we're proud to be in this growing class of events that strengthen our community and work on behalf of our artists.




To Contact CXC and for Additional Information:

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Finally, here are jpegs from a local-use document we've had around for vendors and press and potential donors.


posted 5:19 pm PST | Permalink

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