Caleb Orecchio here with your Monday edition of the Daily News providing a CXC wrap-up.
Sally Ingraham, Audra Stang, and Frank Santoro
What a weekend. A long weekend. From September 28th to October 1st I attended Cartoon Crossroads Columbus with Comics Workbook, and I have no regrets.
First I must thank Frank Santoro who, apart from being my favorite cartoonist, is the fearless leader of Comics Workbook –without whom, my experience of these festivals would be lacking any sense of purpose. Thanks Frank! Also have to thank Sally Ingraham who keeps me and the other kids in check and with things to do–she also serves as an inspiration of work ethic in comics.
Next I should thank the CXC Executive committee, the people who make this show what it is and tirelessly keep the wheels going–Jeff Smith, Lucy Caswell, Vijaya Iyer, Kathleen Glosan, Tom Spurgeon and Melody Reed. Thanks for putting on such a great show.
FIRST DAY–Thursday September 28th
Got there in time to meet the rest of the Comics Workbook crew and see Kevin Huizenga’s talk about his use of time in comics. As you may have guessed, the talk was very in-depth and interesting. I thought it was cool that he remembers, vividly, drawing his first comic. He ran through his Ganges catalog and gave us examples of how he plays with time and how time has many different perspectives. You, dear reader, probably already know this, but he is extremely smart and I was really impressed with the amount of research that goes into each issue of Ganges.
And so we, the CW crew hung out and around OSU campus and caught up with each other and generally palled around. The official CW caravan crew was Frank Santoro, Sally Ingraham, Connor Willumsen, Audra Stang, and Kurt Ankeny driving in from Pittsburgh–then myself who came in from Dayton, OH. We also saw the likes of Adam Griffith, Phil Dokes, Juan Fernandez, Jenn Lisa, and Aaron Cockle that weekend.
Of course, how could I not mention the Billy Ireland. What you’ve heard is true. It’s amazing. Often, peoples hearts stop and their eyes get teary. I’ve written much on this before and so have others, so I won’t take up any more space on here about this subject.
SECOND DAY–Friday September 29th
First thing I saw was Leslie Stein’s tutorial on watercolor and other various materials she uses. Very fun lecture. Stein did great crowd work and was entertaining while she drew. I found it interesting just how much of an education this was for a lot of people in the audience who didn’t even know what a micron pen was(!). Side note, I think microns should die a quick and sudden death–but that’s just me.
Audra, Kurt and I got lunch and hung out. They gave me some tips on drawing portraits–they are both very accomplished in this field, among others, and I am often quite jealous of their ability.
At 3:00pm, was the Chris Ware spotlight moderated by Caitlin McGurk. My friends, you could not have seen a better talk. Chris Ware was, as usual, completely and utterly fantastic–funny, intelligent, self-deprecating–everything you’d ever want from the man. And Caitlin McGurk was an excellent interviewer, she could hold her own and her intellect matched Ware’s. In fact, Ware surprised her by mentioning how an article about memory that she wrote when she was nineteen, changed the way he thought about memory–the article was recommended by Chester Brown–and much of her ideas in that article made their way into Building Stories. Like I said, the interview was amazing, I could not be happier with the experience.
Chris Ware and Caitlin McGurk–sorry for bad lighting
Real quick, I’ll share one of the anecdotes that Ware shared about his daughter (when she was six)–I’m paraphrasing:
Ware: Okay, Daddy has to go upstairs to work.
Daughter: Daddy, you’re not going upstairs to work, you’re going upstairs to blame yourself.
(Uncontrollable laughter by crowd)
Then at 5:00pm comes The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum 40th Anniversary Reception. Got to spend quality time with Audra and Connor before the awards for Master Cartoonist and Transformative Cartoonist were awarded to Kyle Baker and Howard Cruse, respectively, by Tom Spurgeon and Jeff Smith. Before the awards were passed out, Jeff Smith gave a very touching thank you to all the staff, volunteers and sponsors of CXC. What was particularly touching was Smith’s thank you to Lucy Caswell–who was his mentor and, I think it’s fair to say, we would not know Jeff Smith as we know him today if not for Lucy.
THIRD and FOURTH DAY–Saturday September 3oth—Sunday October 1st
Frank Santoro and Matt Fraction
First day of Expo and Marketplace. Comics Workbook had our table next to Connor Willumsen’s which was nice. Frank ran both tables expertly. Watching him table, one learns the ropes. He’s certainly the best tabler I’ve seen–maybe only rivaled by his own mentor, Bill Boichel. People love going to Frank’s table and talking to him and commenting on “back issues” or anything that comes to mind.
It was fun to see him talk to the likes of Rob Clough, Peter Bagge, Matt Fraction, Tom Spurgeon, Jeff Smith, etc. etc. People have such a respect for Frank. He’s the man.
Connor Willumsen had workshops literally every hour while the library was open–AND he would occasionally come up to his table and draw sketches, sign and draw in his book–Anti-Gone, it’s amazing–for people. Connor’s amazing, dude can draw straight to ink like a master. I’d be mad at him if he wasn’t such a kind, thoughtful person.
Speaking of Connor, he was on a panel with Jeff Smith, Peter Bagge, and Kyle Baker–three giants of comics and some of the most successful cartoonist fiscally and critically. Despite Connor’s relatively low-profile compared to these legends, Connor held his own and impressed everyone on the panel with his cartooning prowess (all three legends took a look at his book during the session) and his ability to hold an audience.
Smith, Bagge, Baker, Willumsen
Connor had a busy weekend and a tall tall mountain to climb–and he finished the race a mile in front of the pack. Frank says he’s the “starting center fielder” on the scene these days.
Sally Ingraham took over for Connor during his aforementioned panel because he was double-booked and people still wanted to learn comics. Every time I want to complain about comics and how much it engulfs my life, I remember that Sally is a savage and never complains. She is ready to jump in whenever and wherever CW needs her–and is totally prepared. AND she still manages to make a daily comic.
Audra Stang is a rising star. I heard critics mention her work multiple times throughout the weekend. People are starting to pay attention to her–and you should too.
Audra drawing in Rob Clough’s sketchbook
I have to mention how particularly fun the last CXC after-party at Pins Mechanical was. Evan Dorkin was the host and made everyone howl with laughter. When I arrived, Frank was holding a ping pong tournament where Dustin Harbin was the undisputed champ. We came in when he was battling the great JC Menu. Harbin has an interesting serve that is hard to keep track of, but it was no match for my past youth group skills. Once I came in to play–the pace changed. I never lost a game. Connor came close though–so did Dustin. It was fun–Frank had to bench me because I had beaten everyone and other people wanted to play. haha I say all this to brag about beating a bunch of great cartoonists at ping pong–it’s ridiculous.
All in all, CXC was great. I love going because, 1.) it’s my hometown festival, and 2.) I haven’t been to show that has such a mix of camps and to see all those camps mingling is something to behold. And my comics sold pretty well so no complaints from me.
Thanks again to everyone who makes CXC a great show, from the executive committee to the donors to the board of directors and volunteers. Thank you!
And once again, thanks to Frank and Sally for their support of the Comics Workbook “kids” and our endeavors.
if you don’t know now you know
Suzy and Cecil – 10-2-2017 – by Audra Stang