Caleb Orecchio here with an overview of my 2018 CXC experience.


Art by Harvey Kurtzman from Artistically MAD exhibit at The Billy Ireland

Apologies in advance for blurry photos herein.

Another Cartoon Crossroads Columbus is in the books. This year was as fun as ever. On Thursday, I made it to The Billy Ireland Museum in Columbus in time to see Michael DeForge talk to Tom Spurgeon about his career. Tom asked a lot of good questions and brought up many good points that I haven’t heard many people ask DeForge. At the Q+A portion I, being a Comics Workbook person, asked about his use of the grid and how he determined what kind of grid he would use for what kind of story. He basically said that he thought that grids with two columns are funnier than grids with three or more columns which I thought was a good answer

Friday I went back to The Billy Ireland and hung out with Kurt Ankeny and Chris Pitzer for a bit and went up to see the two great new exhibits, Koyama and Friends and Artistically MAD. Yes of course the MAD exhibit was awesome, but seeing the collection of Annie Koyama was a real treat. Seeing contemporary cartoonists’ work hung in one of the sacred temples of comics was energizing for me as a comics maker.



Art by Frank Santoro from Koyama and Friends exhibit at The Billy Ireland


Art by Jim Rugg from Koyama and Friends exhibit at The Billy Ireland
Art by Anya Davidson from Koyama and Friends exhibit at The Billy Ireland
Art by Kevin Huizenga from Koyama and Friends exhibit at The Billy Ireland
Art by Marie Severin from Artistically MAD exhibit at The Billy Ireland

The Museum was selling some of the overflow from their collection in the lobby which included some amazing old fanzines, obscure comic magazines and of course plenty of dumb comics. Everything I just mentioned is my favorite kinds of comic shopping. I paraded the gems I found like a person pushing spiritual literature in Las Vegas. Chris Pitzer geeked out when he saw my copy of “Tara” by William Black and we eventually bargained for a trade.

Kurt and I missed the Koyama panel but made it to the Jim Woodring event moderated by Tom Spurgeon. I have not really heard or read many interviews with Woodring so I was going in fresh in a way. It was a great talk, and Woodring was a great interviewee. At the end of the talk, Tom surprised Woodring and the rest of the audience by awarding him with the this year’s Master Cartoonist award. It was a very touching moment and I am always happy to see people being awarded at CXC.

Jim Woodring after receiving the Master Cartoonist Award

Back to the “The Billy” where a reception was held with food and drinks followed by the official thank yous by Jenni Robb and Jeff Smith and then, a bewildered John Porcellino received the Transformative Work award for his legendary King-Cat comics. The whole place was glassy-eyed.

While everyone went to see Lynn Johnston, I bailed to spend time with friends in town. I wish I would have stayed to see Johnston’s panel. All my sources tell me it was a great time.

Saturday, the first day of the expo, Juan Fernandez and I were the dynamic duo representing Comics Workbook. We had two, count ’em, two tables. One we sold comics by Comics Workbook gang members, and the other was a drawing table. Juan had pads of paper, loose sheets and note cards ready for anyone and everyone willing to participate.

Juan is a very gracious and patient teacher. He would jam with kids who would come by the table, too shy to draw without a nudge. We met a lot of parents who were very happy we were there, letting kids (young and old) have a hands-on experience at comic-making.

The best part for us were the workshops. This year we held workshops on the same floor as the expo and really felt like we were part of the show. Juan had two workshops, and I had one. All three filled the room to the brim. Thank you CXC for providing that space for us. The workshops were a complete success.

The famous Emerging Artist award went to Keren Katz. I love being able to see this award being announced because the recipient has no real way of knowing they will win. There are no nominations announced or anything like that so the winners always express gratitude in a raw honest way with no rehearsal. Congrats Keren.

this was the least blurry photo I took of that moment unfortunately

At the end of the first expo day, I, being a Central Ohio native, took off for a friends house to watch Ohio State beat Penn State. It was a stressful one, but the win made the holes in the drywall worth it.

Sunday, was business as usual. Juan has his last workshop. We sold some comics. We talked to other cartoonists and guests and attendees and all that. The last surprise of the show was that Tom Spurgeon announced that Jeff Smith was stepping down as president of CXC, but would continue to serve as art director. Then, unbeknownst to Jeff, he was being awarded a special edition of the Master Cartoonist award; as well as a very special letter from the city of Columbus thanking him for his contribution to his community. Smith was slightly embarrassed to recieve an award at his own show, but the gesture was not lost on him.

The show winded down quietly then Juan and I headed to the after party early to catch a drink with Ron Wimberly. Juan and Ron had an engaging discussion while I watched as if at a tennis court. My brain was fried from the show and my arms were almost too weak to lift my beer. Frank had sent me with a delivery for Ron, but I totally spaced and forgot to even mention it. Whoops.

The Great Weekend wound down and everyone went back to their homes and hotels. As always, CXC was a blast. This is my “home show” and am proud latch my identity onto it for better or for worse. The staff and volunteers at the show were amazing as always. Once during the expo I thought, I’m thirsty. Then, lo and behold, a volunteer came by with water bottles. Mind-reading volunteers is a rare and blessed thing and they are only at CXC as far as I know.

Thank you as always to Tom Spurgeon for directing yet another great show. Thank you to the Board and everyone involved at all the different venues. And of course thank you to Lucy Caswell, without whom none of this would exit. You make cartoonists feel appreciated which is hard to do. Thanks

10-01-2018 – by Niall Breen

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