Hello good people!
I'm back from an exhilarating trip to Columbus, Ohio (not necessarily a sentence I thought I'd ever type). The triennially (which means once every three years, not three times a year -- I WISH) Billy Ireland/Ohio State University Festival of Cartoon Art.
They had a blockbuster list of speakers and an esteemed group of attendees. In fact, the hulabaloo around the lunch table was that it was the easily the most attractive group of attendees since 2007.
I didn't get to catch the Wednesday and Thursday programs and I got in late in the afternoon on Friday with a mild case of Phocine distemper which I believe I contracted from a shredded pork calzone from O'Hare airport. Word of advice: give serious pause before you buy a shredded pork calzone in an airport and NEVER buy one if you go to Lillith Fair (long story).
But after rallying, I met a fantastic group of thirsty folks at the hotel bar: Jan Eliot, Wiley Miller, Stacy Curtis, Tom Gammill, Jen Sorenson, Richard Thompson, Paul Gilligan, Michael Jantze, Mike Cope, Jenny Campbell, Rob Rogers, Mike McParlane ... and too many more to mention and several who asked me not to (wink, wink!)
Saturday, I was up early for some calisthenics and key lime yogurt. Then, onto Steve Breen'spresentation. Regrettably, they would not let you bring coffee into the theatre, which I thought would make a great editorial cartoon in itself "First they take our right to coffee, then our small firearms" or something like that. I caught the last bits of Steve and I can assure you that the crowd was more than delighted at the end of it.
Then the big one: Jan "Stone Soup" Eliot. The house was packed and everyone sat around with baited breath (they were serving sardines at the breakfast buffet). Jan knocked it out of the park and had the audience in the palm of her hand: laughing, crying, caring. It was amazing. I had the distinct honor of sitting next to Matt Groening during that presentation and I'm pretty sure I heard him breathlessly utter the word, "spectacular."
The rest of the presentations were amazing as well, highlighted by a "An Evening with Matt Groening" co-hosted by GoComics' own Tom Gammill. There was laughter, embarrassment and lots of autograph requests -- most for Tom, though a couple for Matt. And as a bonus, we saw both the world premiere of a new, not-to-be-missed "Learn to Draw" starring Matt and Tom and then a clip from the upcoming "Treehouse of Horror" Simpsons that was quite lovely indeed.
All in all, a great time. Thank you Ohio State.