CXC 2016: 3 Questions for the Crew

Cartoon Crossroads Columbus was an incredibly rich experience, and it left the attending Comics Workbook crew dizzy from new ideas, wonderful experiences, and filled with a renewed sense of belonging to a radically supportive and constantly evolving community.

In an effort to process all of this, we asked ourselves a few questions – below are the first set of answers, supplied by Sacha Mardou, Caleb Orecchio, Juan Fernandez, and Phil Dokes.

Sacha Mardou


1) What is your biggest takeaway as a maker from the CXC experience?

This was a a bench mark show for me in a lot of ways. CAKE 2016 was the first time I’ve been to a show and had a sense of people knowing my work in advance. This is still a new experience for me – I come from the St. Louis comics scene where until lately Dan Z, Kevin H and Ted May were the heavy hitters and I was there too, kinda. This show was a personal branch out for me and just as Sky in Stereo represents me finding my authors voice, CXC represents, on a personal level, me getting recognition and acceptance from my peers. It also had another level of me being there with Comics Workbook and cementing friendships and projects that have been fermenting for awhile. Without sounding sappy, it really was profound in terms of being there, part of a group of people that I admire and respect, who’ve been giving me feedback and a platform to find a wide audience. It was overwhelmingly positive, great and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

2) What was something that you found and got excited about? (a book, artist, idea?)

I saw an original Ronald Searle drawing at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and it seemed to sum up why we’re all here and why we’re all doing this. It was an existential moment. I wanted so much to roll it up and stick it up my sleeve, but honesty and dignity won out.

3) Favorite moment?

I had a lot of moments with very special people, too many to write about. Honestly, Alyssa Berg and I had a meeting of minds on Sunday and – I hope it god it was mutual- but yeah. I gotta new penpal out of CXC. That makes me so happy! Girl Power, etc.

Juan Fernandez and Caleb Orecchio


1) What is your biggest takeaway as a maker from the CXC experience?

The biggest takeaway for me was the community. Being around cartoonists was very special to me. My typically introverted guise is abandoned around “my people.” Be it cartoonists in the same “generation” or pros and veterans, it’s nice to be around these people. And with having so much programming and two whole days available to network and mingle outside of exhibiting, it made CXC extremely hard to leave. I’m nostalgic already.

2) What was something that you found and got excited about? (a book, artist, idea?)

Seeing Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo presentation by John Canemaker was a big deal for me. The genius of McCay is vast, and Canemaker displayed that well. It really energized me and colored my attitude through for the rest of the festival. ALSO, the State of the Industry panel moderated by Tom Spurgeon. It was a breath of fresh air to hear cartoonists and gatekeepers (a controversial term) talk about the nuts and bolts of making a living in the comics industry. I was particularly excited about King Features Syndicate general manager Brendan Burford’s point of view. He seems to see the big picture and is furiously optimistic about comics and cartoonists. AND AND I took a tour through The Billy Ireland’s archives, guided by Caitlin McGurk. That was a blast.

3) Favorite moment?

Okay, since you asked, I have to admit this. I almost had a moment in front of Seth, Ben Katchor, and the rest of the tour party when Caitlin McGurk took us into part of the archives and, just sitting to my right was an original Krazy Kat sunday page. It was the most beautiful piece of art I’ve ever seen. Seeing it so big, and just sitting out in the open. I think it was floating? You could feel the cosmic energy surrounding it. It was like Herriman’s ghost put it there just for me to see (other people saw it too, I’m just being dramatic obviously). The beautiful lines, the design, the scratched out ink at the top of the tree to give it depth and texture, and Krazy just sitting peacefully under it. I’m not one to get emotional in public, but I thought I was going to cry like baby in front of these people. I can feel tears welling up as I type this. I will never speak of this again.



1) What is your biggest takeaway as a maker from the CXC experience?

I was reminded of the joy of print. Sometimes these events are so draining that I forget how much I love these little books. The halls of the Billy and the floor of the Metropolitan filled my spirits and allowed me to run workshops, sell books AND soak up all the comics on the floor.

I’ve been in a lull of production – financial reasons + I’ve been stretched too thin between my own comics making, community organizing and paying the bills that I haven’t brought any books into the world. The vast array of work on display at the Billy and at the Metropolitan Library has me raring to produce some quality comics for print.

2) What was something that you found and got excited about? (a book, artist, idea?)

The careful and holistic planning to programming, scheduling and laying out of the festival had me thinking deeply about the future of comics festivals. It was like someone opened a window and let in the most delicious breeze. I was so inspired that I wrote a little about those thoughts!

3) Favorite moment?

Honestly, visiting the Billy Ireland blew my mind. Among the stacks in the archives and the art on exhibit, seeing Richard Thompson’s strip in the “Good Grief!” exhibition blew my mind and had my in tears. Seeing Mr. Thompson’s work in the flesh reignited a flame that I’ve been tending in my personal comics making ever since here in Pittsburgh.

Phil Dokes


1) What is your biggest takeaway as a maker from the CXC experience?

That the only limits in making comics are the ones you put upon yourself. Sally and Juan really do make it very easy to just let the no’s that normally pop up in my process, pretty quickly vanish and not trip up my progress. And before I know it, they’ve made me make a page.

2) What was something that you found and got excited about? (a book, artist, idea?)

Scott Roberts’ Happy Trails. Beautiful risograph narrative flipbook.

Whit Taylor’s Wallpaper. Worried about how strong it would hold together with no figures depicted – no worries needed.

Sacha Mardou’s Long Form Fiction Planning talk – Came in figuring it would be good because of the natural flow of her work, but was blown way-away by the depth of her research & thoughtfulness in regards of her characters/story. Wowzers!

3) Favorite moment?

Gonna give you two:
One – Walking into the reading room with all the original art laid out for about the 3rd time that day. See some big older guy handling some art without the white gloves. I look around at the staff in disbelief. “This guy’s got a lot of &%&&^ nerve… let me go around this table and get a good look at thi-OHMYGADITSSERGIOFREAKINGARAGONES!

Two – Right after Sacha’s Friday talk, me, Sally, Juan, Kurt were having some chit chat between events and, quite naturally, out came everyone’s index cards/sketchbooks and the pens were scratching away. Just felt so right.

For the rest of our complete CXC coverage check out the special “round up” report HERE.

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