Arts: Festival of Cartoon Art

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Today the art of cartooning is a multibillion-dollar enterprise in cinema and television, but it all evolved from comic strips and editorial cartoons in print.

So this year's triennial Festival of Cartoon Art at the Wexner Center wisely focuses on the print medium, the often-overlooked foundation of all cartoon creations.

Everyone knows Matt Groening as the man who created "The Simpsons" - the longest-running primetime television series ever. But did you know Groening's first professional cartoon was the comic strip "Life in Hell," which he's been publishing weekly since 1980? (Hint: you can find it on the last page of Alive each week.)

When Groening speaks at the Wex Saturday night, he'll discuss his landmark television series, sure, but he'll also focus on the comic strip that gave him his start.

The influence of print comics stretches wide and far. Check out George Herriman's iconic early 20th-century newspaper strip "Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse" - a 100th-anniversary collection of strips is on display in the Cartoon Library through the end of the year - for a look at the characters who paved the way for so many other cat-and-mouse pairings, from Tom and Jerry to Groening's Itchy and Scratchy.

For his discussion, Groening will be joined onstage by Tom Gammill, the noted writer/producer/cartoonist who wrote for "The Simpsons" as well as "Seinfeld" and "Late Night with David Letterman."

Acclaimed graphic novelist Art Spiegelman is set to speak Sunday as part of the festival. A pioneer in the world of underground comics, his best-known work is the seminal "Maus: A Survivor's Tale." The graphic novel tells of his father's Holocaust survival through a story about cats and mice.

Spiegelman is a recipient of the 2010-11 Wexner Center Residency Award in media arts.

Full registration for the Festival of Cartoon Art is already sold out, said the Cartoon Library's assistant curator Jenny Robb, but the Groening and Spiegelman discussions are open to the public.

The audience will get a chance to ask questions during each discussion session. Tickets are free but require pre-registration through the Wexner Center.

An evening with Matt Groening

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16

Mershon Auditorium

1871 N. High St., Campus

Art Spiegelman

3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17

Mershon Auditorium

1871 N. High St., Campus