Last fall, a group of local comic artists and art curators from Central Ohio introduced Columbus to Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (abbreviated as CXC), a new kind of comics convention that mixed fandom with academia and treated the medium as more than just a breeding ground for the next big-budget superhero movie. The event was enough of a success that it’s now been planned through 2019, running this year from Wednesday, October 12 through Sunday the 16th.
Once again the event will be held throughout the city, with the majority of events at the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum on OSU’s campus and the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Columbus College of Art & Design in Downtown Columbus.
Rather than charging you $50 to get your photo taken with a Power Ranger like some other local comic conventions, CXC focuses exclusively on cartooning and visual storytelling. Appropriately for one of the craziest election years in recent memory, one of their featured guests is Garry Trudeau, creator of the iconic political cartoon series Doonesbury. Other guests will include Stan Sakai, creator of Usagi Yojimbo, MAD Magazine’s Sergio Aragones, all-ages graphic novel phenomenon Raina Telgemeier, and Skottie Young, whose charming cartoon covers have been one of the few highlights of some of Marvel’s recent corporate-mandated crossover events.
CXC is also once again partnering with SŌL-CON: The Brown and Black Comix Expo, hosted by The Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Held primarily in OSU’s Hale Hall and the Columbus Metropolitan Library, SŌL-CON will, as the tagline suggests, focus on creators of color. Their Friday schedule includes two workshops on creating comics for younger students to help prepare and encourage the next generation of writers and artists of color in a field that’s dauntingly white.
As befits a show hosted by colleges and libraries rather than big corporate conventioneers, this year CXC will introduce the CXC Academic Symposium. The inaugural theme is “Canon Fodder!” which will address which works and creators are considered a part of the literary canon of the medium and what overlooked and underrepresented voices need to be actively included.
But even though it has an academic focus, CXC still has an exhibitor room. During Saturday’s events at the newly-renovated Downtown library, there will also be a space where attendees can meet with 130 creators and an extra 40-plus from SŌL-CON. CXC maintains a “highly curated” guest list, so expect to see more than the standard convention fare of copied Harley Quinn and Catwoman pin-ups.
With the exception of a Wexner Center screening of 2015’s The Little Prince, all events at CXC and SŌL-CON are presented free of admission. The full schedule and list of featured guests can be found at cartooncrossroadscolumbus.com.