Juan here. It’s been a while since we talked. Here’s hoping you’re having a good day so far. I’m here in Pittsburgh getting ready for what is looking to be like a fun, doozy of a weekend. Before I dive back into that work I’d like to step back and reflect on this year’s Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC).

For anyone wondering about CXC, it was a blast. I’m not one to write much, but as I’ve mentioned before, CXC is on track to becoming America’s Angoulême. A festival that uses the entire city as campus. Accessible, free and intergenerational. Sales and the marketplace, while important, take a back seat to human connection. Something that I love about this show is that amidst all the programming, there’s time for you to get what you need from Columbus. I knew of people hitting the bars, going to nature preserves, visiting nearby family. I got to do my thing and celebrate the new release of a new Magic the Gathering set, Guilds of Ravnica by playing in two, that’s right TWO, tournaments,

On the educational front, Comics Workbook led three workshops. Each workshop was packed, a full house. We handed out our new workbook zine and led attendees through the activities therein. We couldn’t have asked for a better host than CXC. They promoted our work really well, provided us with a great workshop space and they brought out Columbus’ aspiring comics makers in droves.

At our table I played around with folks making some jumbo sized jam comics on easels. Through playful activities, each person who stopped by to draw was getting a free comics fundamentals lesson. I love being able to use play to invite reluctant or shy makers to open up and see what they can do. I couldn’t have asked for a better table mate than Caleb. He led his own workshop, got me some food when I was famished, sold our comics and zines left and right and collaborated with attendees at our activity table.

Here’s the nitty gritty: I drove in Friday evening and drove back to Pittsburgh Sunday night with Caleb Orecchio.

Friday night I slid into Columbus at 11:55pm, after driving straight from work in Pittsburgh. I arrived just in time to register for the midnight prerelease at lovely gaming store, the Guardtower. I played magic until 6:45am, 5 rounds of matches, 4 wins, 1 loss. It was a blast. As the sun was rising I zipped over to the hostel where I was staying, freshened up, got some breakfast and then met my trusty sidekick for the weekend, Caleb Orecchio at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. We set up our spots, one table for sales and another for collaborative drawing activities with attendees. I downed some coffee, caught up with Caleb and in no time the library filled up with attendees. We were off to the races.

The day zipped by, a sea of new faces and a welcoming stream of old friends from across the country. It was nice to catch up with folks left and right. I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie Umber, Feña, Breena Nuñez Peralta and Annie Koyama and catching up with Iona Fox, Whit Taylor, Kat Fajardo, and Kurt Ankeny on the expo floor.

The day raced by and we wrapped up by 5pm, I wolfed down a salad from the library cafe and debated going to sleep or playing in another magic tournament. Of course, I went to play in another tournament. That one, didn’t go so well, as the lack of sleep was really getting to me. Thankfully it was a team format where two players collaboratively built decks and faced off against another teams. Thanks to Carl from Columbus for holding my hand through the crazy combat math at the end of the night. Tournament over, I drove home to the hostel, slightly delirious, and konked out.

I was up and at ‘em at 8:30 and I got ready for Richie Pope’s talk with William Evans at the Columbus Museum of Art. Great venue, great talk and a great crowd. I have to admit that I’ve been sleeping on Richie. What a fool I’ve been. Through the internet I’ve seen comics by him here and there and his work has come through Copacetic enough for me to read and appreciate. I had recently read “The Box We Sit On” and had slightly lost my mind for how great of a comic it was.

It was a joy to see this conversation where strands of his work were woven together to create this portrait of a complex, inviting body of work. To see Richie’s calm, fluid and excited way of talking about all of it, what a gift. What a titan. What an excellent maker. The way that he weaves personal symbology, playful lines, smart color palettes, humor and poetry… A Richie Pope appreciation post is to come in the near future. What an inspiring guy…

After that, it was back to the library for day 2 of sales and workshops. After that, it was time to wrap up and head back home to Pittsburgh. But not without getting a drink with Ron Wimberly. to catch up and weave together a bunch of ideas. There’s few people I have more fun talking to in comics than Ron. People flowed in and out of our conversation and it was nice to feel the flow of it all. We talked about the greatness of Richie Pope, food as the highest art form, language/ guilt symbol transmission stuff, personal comics making processes, art and labor, 9/11, memes, the French origins of critical theory, tumblr and more. it was really nice to talk with everyone, together.

Caleb and I hit the road and we were back in Pittsburgh around 1am.

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.

So, what’s coming up in Pittsburgh?

Well, in between the the constraints of time imposed by my day-job I’ve been trying to get all the ducks in a row for the Pittsburgh Zine Fair and the IDEA FACTORY, a fun concept that will be part of Rube Fest, the festival to celebrate the opening of the Children’s Museum’s new exhibit, Rube Goldberg™: The World of Hilarious Invention! Artists are taking over parts of the Museum where guest inventors, artists and activities will inspire visitor’s vision and put their problem-solving skills to the test.

I was asked to come up with a performance style workshop that playfully celebrated the limitless capacities for invention that paper and pencil allowed. To this effect we will be having a wacky patent office where children will be invited to work with local cartoonists to turn inventions that they’ve drawn into jumbo sized blue-prints that they’ll be able to take home. It’s been fun wrangling a crew of regular Pittsburgh Comics Salon attendees to run this activity.

Come Sunday, zines will be pouring out of the Union Project! That’s right, it’s time for the Eighth Annual Pittsburgh Zine Fair. I’ll have a recap of that next week. As one of the primary organizers of the fair I have to make sure things go smoothly so I need to hop to it. Photos of Rube Fest and the Zine Fair to come. In the meantime check out that poster by the great Christina Lee! Perfection.

For now, I’m off to get all those ducks in a row!

over and out,

10/10/2018 – by Niall Breen

10/10/2018 – by Fifi Martinez

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