The blog of Richard Thompson, caricaturist, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

Showing posts with label osu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label osu. Show all posts

Monday, October 25, 2010

Memories of the Ohio State University Cartoon Festival 2010 in Stream of Consciousness Form Part 2

The first order of business at the Wexner Center for the Arts's downstairs auditorium on Friday morning is refreshments and the official welcome by Cartoon Librarian Lucy Caswell and OSU President E. Gordon Gee (who gracefully combines the grandeur of a college president's name with a bit of gosh-wowiness), which Mike and I miss, arriving in time to hear most of Tony Agnes Cochran's talk, I Might Be Significant. Cochran's language describing his work is as lyrically comic as his strip, and one thing that strikes me is his admission that he hadn't been a huge comics fan as a kid; instead he'd come to cartooning through fine art, having started out as a painter. He also points out that Agnes's hair is shaped like Ohio, his home state. I admire Agnes as a character; she's ebullient and irrepressible in spite of her dispiriting life, living in a trailer with her grandmother, and she makes me laugh. Each speaker is allotted 45 minutes, the last few of which are opened up for questions from the audience. To mark the last question in this and all subsequent presentations Lucy Caswell rises silently from the audience to appear onstage by the speaker, a bit of stage business that becomes somehow funny each time it's repeated. There's now a brief break for everybody to stand up and sit down again, something I do rather gingerly as I'm wobbly and also as the guy videotaping the talks has his camera set up right behind me and I'm antsy about my head looming into his shots (assuming he's even filming the breaks). Then it's time for Jen Slowpoke Sorensen's talk, The Lighter Side of Impending Doom. Her power point shows Jen's deft, insightful and playful handling of sometimes grim material and I recognize every strip. One thing I really enjoy is how funny they are all over again when viewed with an audience, in the same way that I've almost suffocated with laughter watching an ancient Bugs Bunny cartoon for the 400th time when it's in a crowded theater. Listening to a cartoonist read his or her work also adds something to understanding and enjoying it; the timing and intonation is often different from what your mind hears while reading it. After Jen it is Dave Sheldon Kellett's turn. His talk, The Freeing of the Comics, is the keynote speech, and is billed as a reply to Bill Watterson's The Cheapening of the Comics, which was presented at OSU in 1989. Dave's a smart man, a wonderfully funny cartoonist and an especially good speaker. His talk is a fine piece of comic timing, with an entertainingly illustrative choice of photos and drawings, and the points he makes about the possibilities of the web as newspapers dwindle give me a few shreds of hope. I wish now I'd taken better notes, or that there'd been a test at the end. One point he makes is that we as cartoonists are businessmen/women/people/talkingdogs, deny it or claim incompetence as we might. Whatever, I feel some relief, though if someone had been selling time machine tickets to Newspaperland 1985 I'd still get in line. Now it's lunchtime and, though I have a ticket to a lunch put on at Mershon Auditorium, I instead follow Mike, Chris, Charles, Michele & Craig to the Student Union and have a Buckeye Cuban sandwich, which is very good as it lacks actual buckeyes. The next table over is a madhouse of editorial cartoonists who we expect at any moment to erupt in an intense foodfight, as everyone knows that editorial cartoonists are violent, opinionated and contentious, most often at feeding time. We finish and head back to the Wexner Center for the next speaker. Who is Paul DC Levitz, a droll, low-key speaker, somewhat surprising in someone from the gaudy, exclamation pointed world of comic books. His presentation, 75 Years of Mythmaking, the Art of DC Comics, is keyed to a massive book of the same name coming out from Taschen. His anecdotes are great and told with the appreciation of someone who came up through fandom. One thing he mentions is that there are at least two individuals on the planet who possess a complete set of everything DC published, one of them in the vicinity of Kent, England. Those in the audience who collect sigh visibly, little clouds forming above their heads containing the word "sigh" in comic sans. Lucy Caswell appears silently onstage next to Paul and it's time for James Market Day Sturm. I'd met James at SPX in September and heard him speak at Politics & Prose. He repeats part of that at OSU, showing how he'd developed the story of Market Day and showing work by Roman Vishniak, Raphael Soyer and others who'd inspired him, but also talks about his many other works in comics and the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction that he cofounded in 2004. His description of cartooning as "not writing and art, but poetry and graphic design" is my favorite quote of the weekend (illustrated here by Mike Lynch). Then after a string of questions Lucy Caswell apparates onstage and it's time for vaudeville! The wiseguy surrealism of Bizarro in the person of Dan Piraro, who bestrides the stage like the agile performer and passionate cartoonist he is. His show, My Life as a Pornographer, is a hoot, an string of cartoons sharp as barbwire, the highlights of which include an indescribable gag with the Lone Ranger, Tonto & a cauliflower and a describable gag with Medusa at a nude beach. Then, after being playfully taunted by Piraro, Lucy Casswell, the implacable Angel of Time to Stop Talking, rises into view, giggling slightly, and invites us to join her back at the Hyatt Regency for a reception in honor of Paul Levitz, sponsored by Heritage Auctions. And more TK; I'm posting this unfinished because I've been so slow in finishing it, and America clamors for more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Memories of the Ohio State University Cartoon Festival 2010 in Stream of Consciousness Form Part 1

Driving to Columbus from Arlington with Mike Rhode doing all the actual driving. Using only the incremental step-by-step Google Maps directions which means we have only a vague notion of where we really are. I swear it's always foggy on this one stretch of I-68. We pull off onto a smaller road because the directions tell us to. Everything's uphill, all the way there.  Seeing a lot of the mountains of scenic southwestern Pennsylvania. Oops, tires need rebalancing. Stop at McDonald's. Pass General Braddock's Memorial marker; Mike guesses French & Indian War. A lot of towns that look like model railroad towns enlarged to livable size, some where the nicest building around is the local funeral home. Yay, West Virginia, closely followed by Yay, Ohio! And eventually Yay, Columbus, my wife's hometown! Skip through town and head right to the OSU campus Hey, there's the indomitable Chris Sparks exiting the OSU parking garage! Got to the tail end of Michael Tisserand's Herriman lecture, where he showed a photo he took of the actual Coconino County sheriff's office, bland little building with no Offisa Pupp. First of many visions of Jenny Robb (OSU Assistant Professor and Associate Curator of the Cartoon Library) ever on the wing, keeping things moving. In the registration line at the Cartoon Library Brian Walker tells me about his upcoming Garry Trudeau art book from Yale press. Time to start cleaning off the studio shelves again to make room for new stuff. Missed the Krazy Kat Kake but enjoyed the other food at the Cartoon Library reception, chatted with Columbus homeboys Nate Beeler (now of DC), who grew up romping in the wilds of the Cartoon Library and teething on Caniffs,  and Jeff Stahler, who's worked on every Festival. Met the accomplished & charming Prof. Tom Inge finally but too briefly. And here's elfin mandarin RCHarvey! All right, now we're cookin' with gas! John Read got me the last glass of wine (the birthdate stamped on some bottles of beer made them contemporaneous with the previous Festival). Established festival-long habit of standing in the exact spot most necessary for traffic flow. Goggled at the Herriman originals with Rina Piccolo & Hilary Price while getting that self conscious feeling you get when you stare at Art from inches away in public but it's Okay because it's Funny Art. Back to the hotel for check in and start bumping into people I knew or soon would. Dinner at large yet quiet sports bar across the street with Mike, Craig Fisher, Charles and Michele Hatfield, Harry Katz, Martha Kennedy and David Berona, several of whom had spoken during  the academic portion of the Festival on Thursday. We talk mostly about kittens on a Roomba. Or is that the name of a fancy drink? Memory slightly blurry. Back to the hotel, Jenny Robb flies past with Matt Groening, brief pleasantries (didn't ask him to sign anything, which seems to be his full time occupation), then up to bar on the second level of the atrium lobby, and memory gets blurrier mostly because it's late and also because, hey, there's Tom Gammill! I swear it's always foggy on the second floor bar.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where I Am

At the OSU Cartoon Festival. Posting may be spotty.