Go Visit CXC

By | Friday, September 29, 2023 Leave a Comment
This weekend sees Cartoons Crossroads Columbus (CXC) in the middle of Ohio again. The show itself is really impressive, and has pretty much everything I'm looking for in a comics convention these days. (Well, except being more than an hour's drive away.) There's a really solid mix of creators there, in terms of racial/ethnic diversity as well as age/length of time in the business, plus a good mix of different aspects of comics, running from monthly pamphlet creators who've worked at Marvel and DC to editorial cartoonists to webcomikers to small, indie press folks. There are lots of creators tables, but also some setups from publishers and comics retailers. The panels, too, seem to reflect the mix as well.

Despite some big name talents like Raina Telgemier, Daniel Clowes, and Keito Gaku and being in the center of Ohio's capital, the show still seems fairly intimate. I'll see people I know while I'm parking my car the first day, and run into a few other people I knew before getting into the show itself. And throughout the whole festival, I'm able to spent a good deal of time catching up with people I know. One of the show's organizers noted to me a few years ago that was deliberate; trying to give a comfortable atmosphere for professionals who know other people in the business.

Interestingly, one of the other creators I spoke with noted that the show seems quieter than many others, but not in a bad way, like there's nobody there. Rather, it seems like people were pretty intent on checking out what people had and are invested in finding new things. And, while I do see many people I know, there are many more than I don't, or only by reputation.

I've talked to multiple organizers who said that they had very much actively checked out other conventions to see what they did right and wrong, and it very much shows there. Everything seems to be laid out fairly well, and traffic seems to flow pretty smoothly most of the time. (Although it will get busy enough periodically that you might have to do some odd side-stepping, it certainly won't be the completely-blocked-aisles that I've encountered at other shows.) That's not to say there are never problems, but the ones that I've seen come up strike me (as a visitor) as largely inconsequential and ones I would scarcely have noticed if I didn't actually know some of these people who told me the issues they ran into. This speaks a lot to the benefit of checking out and critically analyzing what other people are doing. Steal from the best, as they say.

The show is free to visitors. I gather the show's income comes more from the tabling fees and some sponsorships. I did some back-of-the-envelope math, based on some guestimated numbers and it doesn't strike me as a show that's going to get either the organizers rich any time soon. (I'm having trouble imagining they had any more than $100,000 in annual revenue; the number is probably much closer to $50,000. I have no first-hand, or even second-hand knowledge on this but for a show of this size/caliber, that strikes me as an incredibly small amount to work with.) But that's not the point either. From everything I know about them (and the other folks involved) they're very much more interested in making it a genuine celebration of comics. Not the commercialized version of a celebration of comics, but a heart-felt celebration of the medium.

I think it's a fantastic show, and I would encourage everybody who can to go so they are able to keep things going here. I've had a great time when I have been able to attend, and I've found a wealth of material to explore. I've told several people, truthfully, that I could drop at least $20 at every single table if my bank account would have allowed it. Seriously, the only real complaint I can lodge would be that I'm not able to attend this year. But don't let that stop you! If you're able to swing it, I highly recommend checking CXC out this weekend! It's already up and running, and will be open through October 1.
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