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Comics and Cartoons take over Columbus for second-annual festival

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Patrons of Cartoon Crossroads gather around a table with artists' work laid out on it during the show in 2015. Credit: Courtesy of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus

Patrons of Cartoon Crossroads gather around a table with artists’ work laid out on it during the show in 2015. Credit: Courtesy of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus

Comics and cartoons dominate campus and downtown once again as the second-annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, also known as CXC, festival takes over the city this weekend.

CXC brings together artists, local arts organizations and community libraries to produce a collective event that shows off graphic arts in Ohio.

“By joining together, we can use all of our resources to create something much larger than any one of us could do,” said Jenny Robb, curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at OSU.

For students and community members, CXC will provide an outlet to broaden their views on graphic arts. Megan Sand, a fifth-year in international development studies and student employee at Billy Ireland said there’s more to comics than superheroes and newspaper editorials.

“I started reading graphic novels when I was in high school, that’s really where my interest is,” Sand said. “The graphic novels today, every artist is unique, they all have their own style and they all cover different subjects, so our narrow view of what a cartoon is is not really true.”

CXC sheds light on the wide variety of cartoons and comics, as well as providing an opportunity for visitors to extend their interest into this art form, Robb said.  

“What we’re providing is a tremendous opportunity for people to meet creators of cartoons and comics, to discover things that they didn’t even know existed, but might speak to them, to find things that are entertaining or educational, also to learn about the art form of cartoon and comics and how they may be able to tell their own stories through cartoons and comics,” Robb said.

The community-wide festival will be featuring a variety of events, including a film screening, lectures, late night socials and an exhibition held in different areas of Columbus.

Robb said the success of last year’s two-day event has allowed this year’s cartoon festival to expand into the larger, five-day event that the organizations and sponsors originally envisioned.  

Inspired by the setup of European cartoon festivals — specifically The Angouleme International Comics Festival in Angouleme, France, which is attended by more than 100,000 people every year — CXC aims to take over the entire city of Columbus. For Robb, the idea of CXC is to get everyone involved.

“A lot of other comics festivals tend to be in convention centers, and they’re aimed at audiences that already love and know comics,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is really expand the audience for comics, and so we’re reaching out to casual readers or people who maybe don’t even consider themselves to be comics fans.”

The festival kicks off with a behind the scenes look at the 1943 stop-motion film “The Little Prince” at the Wexner Center for the Arts. A new addition to this year’s festival is the  scholarly symposium, which is set to take place on Thursday and Friday at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum inside Sullivant Hall on OSU’s campus.

“(The scholarly symposium is) an opportunity for researchers in the area of comic scholarship to be able to present their research to their colleagues,” Robb said. “We have a number of both faculty members at universities, as well as independent scholars who are coming here.”

The marketplace and expo on Saturday and Sunday will feature more than 130 artists and vendors, giving them the opportunity to display and sell their work to community members at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Sand said the weekend event is the best way for students to immerse themselves in the world of cartoons and comics.

All events in the Cartoon Crossroads Festival are free and open to the public, with the exception of a film screening at the OSU Wexner Center for the Arts. For more information and a schedule of events, visit their web site http://www.cartooncrossroadscolumbus.com/index.html.


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