We're back from the Festival of Cartoon Art at OSU and the experience has left me with a number of thoughts about the presentations and the future of the comics business. I attended every presentation and have tried to gather here my impressions of them.
Tony Cochran - "I Might Be Significant"
I have to say I adored this presentation. Tony is witty, dark, self deprecating (as many cartoonist's seem to be) and incredibly passionate about his craft and blunt about his feelings for comic strips and comic art.
Tony's path originally followed the arc of traditional art school with painting as his medium of choice. I may have related to his story more than the stories of any of the other cartoonists presenting over the weekend in that John's background is also one in fine art - and he graduated from Ringling School of Art and Design with nary a thought to ever doing a comic strip.
Tony planned on a career as a painter and showed us some wonderful examples of his work. Unfortunately - that career path, while it led to a certain level of success, also led to a job in an auto body shop.
If I remember correctly - this is titled "St. Andrew of the Soapsuds"
For those of you (like John) who spent upwards of a decade getting syndicated, Tony's story is a tad depressing. He sent in a submission and was syndicated 3 weeks later.
My favorite moments from the talk came when: 1) he told us we could shower him with applause and then he proceeded to show us his "basking pose" 2) he announced that - with 11 years in syndication under his belt - he had no been syndicated longer than Bill Watterson and 3) he recounted an incident from art school wherein, with all the class paintings lined up for critique, the instructor strolled in, went straight to Tony's, picked it up and - instead of showering it with praise - threw it out the window.
I could go on and on - I wish I had a video of it. It was truly inspiring.
A note: Tony's title "I Might Be Significant" is less about his personal quest for fame and more a reminder that we all might be significant, no matter what our perceived station in life, and that everyone is more than they seem.
Next came alternative weekly editorial cartoonist Jen Sorensen "The Lighter Side of Impending Doom".
I was unfamiliar with Jen's work as I do not live in a market with a lot of alternative papers floating around - I should be taking the train into Chicago just to pick them up, I really miss getting the Reader.
This presentation was a great way to get to know Jen and her comic "Slowpoke". Not only did she do a great job giving some humorously presented background on herself, but she shared the back stories to several of her most controversial cartoons. She also shared some reader mail and her struggles with people who stunningly miss the point of her work.
The last presentation of the morning came from Sheldon creator Dave Kellet. I have a lot of thoughts about Dave's presentation so I am putting them in a later post.
After lunch was Paul Levitz and "75 Years of DC Comics - The Art of Mythmaking".
I have to admit that much of this presentation was lost on me as it was a very inside view of the history and workings of DC comics. While I did grow up reading two huge books of DC comics (Superman from the 30's to the 70's and Batman from the 30's to the 70's) I was more of a Marvel Comics girl.
I found the Q & A that followed the main presentation very interesting, though. Especially the story behind the decision to eventually return the original DC comic artwork to the creators.
Next came a spot light on James Sturm.
This presentation consisted primarily of the inspirational photos for and the making of his book "Market Day".
Very fascinating stuff - especially seeing how he translated photos from the displacement of Jews from Russia into the scenes he illustrated for the book. Different subject matter but the same sense of place and culture.
The last presentation from the day came from Dan Piraro. I have so many photos from this that I am putting them in a separate post.
Next post: Dan Piraro