Due to my hectic summer schedule I will once again have to pass attending the San Diego Comic Con this year. I had a lot of fun going back in 2005, but the last two years have been impossible at that time of year. Maybe in 2008.
Instead, I’m excited about attending the 2007 Festival of Cartoon Art in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State University manages a Cartoon Research Library that is truly a one-of-a-kind storehouse of cartoon history, original art and knowledge about the art form. Every three years they hold a festival full of speakers and event, and in October of this year the ninth such festival will occur. Several colleagues raved about the festival at the Reubens last weekend, and I don’t want to miss my chance to attend and have to wait until 2010 for the next one. Lot’s of interesting things go on there. Bill Watterson gave a famous fire and brimstone speech there once that is now part of cartooning lore.
Each year has a theme, and this year is “Graphic Storytelling”. Here is the official description from the Cartoon Research Library website:
2007 – Graphic Storytelling
The ninth triennial Festival of Cartoon Art, October 26-27, 2007, will focus on the art of graphic storytelling. The year 2007 marks the centennial of the birth of master storyteller Milton Caniff, whose papers and art formed the founding collection of the Cartoon Research Library. The conference will begin with a celebration of Caniff’s life and legacy. Leading contemporary cartoonists will then explore the craft of storytelling in newspapers, comic books, and graphic novels throughout the two-day festival.
A new feature of the 2007 Festival will be an academic pre-conference co-sponsored by the library and Project Narrative of The Ohio State University Department of English to be held the afternoon of October 25. This event will be followed by an opening reception at Thurber Center co-hosted by the Thurber House, the Great Lakes Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society, and the Cartoon Research Library.
Caniff is especially noted for his accurate background research and excellent writing; for his innovative use of graphic techniques in his comic strips; for his unusual public service, especially to the United States Air Force; and for his professional leadership in founding the National Cartoonists Society and the Newspaper Comics Council (later named the Newspaper Features Council).
Milton Caniff, known as the “Rembrandt of the Comic Strip” for his work on Terry and the Pirates, Male Call, and Steve Canyon, is one of the most honored cartoonists in history, with awards ranging from two Cartoonist of the Year “Reuben” awards from his peers in the National Cartoonists Society, to the Exceptional Service Award of the United States Air Force. A May 19, 1947 Newsweek cover story about Caniff estimated that the daily readership of Steve Canyon was thirty million people worldwide.
Terry and the Pirates provided the vehicle for Caniff’s maturation both as an artist and as a storyteller. Caniff set the strip in exotic China where historic events then occurring in the region during the 1930s provided the raw material from which he blended fantasy and reality to create an extraordinary graphic narrative. His stories gripped millions of readers worldwide, as evidenced by the fact that he received more than 10,000 letters from readers between 1934 and 1945. Caniff’s sense of design and composition are legendary. Few, if any, cartoonists have so heavily influenced their successors as Milton Caniff. Terry and the Pirates had more imitators that any other comic strip in history.
The 2007 Festival of Cartoon Art will be held at the Blackwell Hotel and Conference Center located on The Ohio State University Campus. Hotel accommodations for conference registrants will be available at the Blackwell and Holiday Inn On The Lane at a special group rate.
Milton Caniff is, of course, one of the all time great cartoonists. This should be great fun and very educational. Plus, unlike at Comic-Con, there is little chance I’ll be growled at by someone in a Chewbacca costume….
…Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
688 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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