Comics come alive — from campus to downtown — this weekend with the first-annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival.
The event was started by Jeff Smith, creator of the popular comic book series Bone.
Smith used to create comic strips for The Lantern. When he attended Ohio State in 1982, Smith said there was a cartoon library on the first floor of the Journalism Building. The library has since grown into the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.
Lucy Shelton Caswell was the curator for the library at the time.
“She kind of became my mentor,” Smith said. “Fast forward to about three years ago, Caswell was retiring and her and the new curator had been running annual festivals like every three years. They were cartooning festivals and it was not meant to be like a giant Comic-Con, but it was a very well-loved and respected event in the cartoon community.”
One of the last events curated by Caswell was the Festival of Cartoon Art that took place in 2007 and was sponsored by the museum.
“The idea was simple in concept. If I could just talk to each one of the art institutions in the city and see if I could get them to the same cartooning event on the same weekend, we could turn Columbus into like a citywide event,” Smith said.
Due to the fact this is Columbus’s first annual citywide cartoon festival, people might not know what to expect from the event.
“It’s the first one and you never know what’s going to happen. I really am excited about it, though, because we have a really great guest list lined up. Some of the best cartoonists in the world are here this weekend,” Smith said. The cartoonists include Art Spiegelman, Jeff Smith, Kate Beaton, Craig Thompson, Jaime Hernandez, Bill Griffith, Jeff Lemire and Francoise Mouly.
The OSU institutions taking part are set to welcome back Smith and fellow artists.
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum will be hosting talks and offering exhibits to visitors, where artists will discuss specific aspects of their work.
“One cartoonist is going to talk about dealing with racial stereotypes. Another will talk about writer’s block or how to manage your collection. So, we’re hosting all that and of course we have exhibits going on, so people will get to see those,” said Caitlin McGurk, associate curator for the cartoon museum.
The Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival will take place Thursday through Saturday. Events will be free of charge, with the exception of some special presentations. Tickets can be bought at the Wexner Center for the Arts.