Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), a new festival celebrating small press comic book companies and their artists, kicked off October 1st in Columbus, Ohio. Running for three days, spread across four different venues, CXC hosted world renowned cartoonists Jeff Smith, Art Spiegelman, Francoise Moully, Bill Griffith, Craig Thompson and many others. The intention of the festival going forward, as stated by Tom Spurgeon, CXC's Director, is to "demonstrate Columbus' potential for becoming the world capital of comics and cartooning."
Comic book conventions have become increasingly popular over the years. Blockbuster films based on comic book characters have raked in billions of dollars worldwide, increasing exposure of the medium that gave birth to Spider-Man, The Avengers, and The X-Men. As a result, curious fans have been led to reexamine this uniquely American Art form; the comic book.
Columbus, Ohio seems a natural fit for the festival. Home to the world's largest collection of comic art, The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, located on The Ohio State University's campus, contains well over 450,000 pieces of cartoon art. In cooperation with CXC, the museum hosted several seminars about self-publishing, drawing technique, as well as interviews with guest artists.
Peter Rasputin, Operations Manager of Colorolio LTD, a Columbus based art supply company, sees the festival as entirely unique. "These days, comic conventions are less about celebrating the art form and more about celebrating media celebrity. Admission costs can easily run $100 to attend a three day event. This cost is used to cover travel for the film and tv stars in attendance."
"At CXC," says Rasputin, "cartoons, comics, and their creators are front and center. Admission is free. Emphasis is more on education and art appreciation rather than commerce. Colorolio works with artists everyday, so we're glad to see this growing up in our backyard."
CXC's publisher's room was lively and well attended during it's Saturday open, in spite of the rainy weather. Located at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, Fantagraphics INC., Toon Books, and other small press publishers presented their latest. Signings by artists were a part of the festivities.
"We're looking forward to next year's CXC," said Rasputin. "We hope this becomes a Columbus tradition in years to come."