The Columbus College of Arts and Design hosted its second annual Mix Symposium last Friday and Saturday, with keynote guest Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL). With a number of panels featuring academic presentations, several workshops where students discussed the comics craft with local creators, and a two hour keynote featuring Smith and journalist Tom Spurgeon, the symposium highlighted the diversity of the comics medium and the growing comic scene in Columbus. The symposium was designed as a place for dialogue between academics, creators and fans. “This year’s Mix came closer to achieving the symposium’s aim,” said Mix organizer Robert Loss. “That’s a tough thing to measure, honestly; it’s a very egalitarian and somewhat experimental approach. It’s one thing to have both groups at one event, but it’s another to actually have them engage with each other on panels.” The event featured twelve panels covering a number of topics that extended beyond mainstream superhero comics. “We had a more diverse Mix [this year], with presentations on women’s comics, international comics, and African-American comics,” said Loss. Presentation topics ranged from the depiction of women in Islamic comics in Indonesia to the challenges of writing and illustrating an autobiographical comic. Also featured was a panel focusing on the burgeoning Columbus comic scene, moderated by James Moore and featuring local creators Bob Corby and Ken Eppstein, as well as Jenny Robb of OSU’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Spurgeon. The largest event of Mix was Smith’s keynote, which was attended by 400 people. Smith and Spurgeon discussed Smith’s work and career for two hours. Smith noted that Bone, an award-winning comic book, was influenced by his time in Columbus, with the rolling hills surrounding Columbus inspiring many of the landscapes in the book. Hocking Hill’s Old Man’s Cave was also featured in the series. Smith also discussed his upcoming webseries Tuki Saves the Humans, and the role that the Internet will play in the future of the industry. Several pages of original artwork from Smith’s latest series, RASL, was also featured in an exhibit, along with a lifesize sculpture of the title character created by two CCAD students. Moore, who attended last year’s event, thought this year’s symposium was a success. “Last year was amazing,” he said. “This year, Robert Loss really built on that. It ran even smoother and just seemed surer of its purpose. It also seemed like it was even better attended and has attracted a lot of outside attention from both Columbus residents and the larger comics community.” When asked about what he had planned for next year, Loss was optimistic about the future. “There are some ideas floating around the community that will definitely affect Mix,” Loss said. “Big, exciting ideas.” While Loss hasn’t reached out to a keynote guest for next year, he did mention Marjane Satrapi of Persepolis fame as a dream guest. However, regardless of how big the symposium grows, Loss wants to keep focus on what’s important. “No matter what happens,” Loss said. “I’d like to keep focusing on what perspective we can offer as a college of art and design.”