Cartoon Crossroads: Laura Park

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive

Part of the fun of being selected for the Columbus Comics Residency, co-hosted by the Columbus Museum of Art and the Columbus College of Art & Design, is getting to hang out at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC).

This year's winner of the residency, which was formerly titled the Graphic Novelist residency, is Chicago- and Paris-based comic artist/illustrator Laura Park, whose work has been featured in numerous anthologies. Park contributed design work to the Cartoon Network series “Over the Garden Wall” and illustrated James Patterson's young reader series “I FUNNY.” She also has a seriously badass Flickr feed.

In addition to CXC (catch her at the Expo at the Downtown branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct 1.), Park will be doing some work at CCAD and have work exhibited at CMA during her residency. Park was kind enough to answer some questions forAlive.

What particularly excites you about this residency?

I've never done a solo residency, so I'm all-around excited for the whole thing. I've only visited Columbus once before so it will be nice to have a chance to explore properly. I hate to reduce an entire city to its excellent doughnuts and world-class comics museum, but you have these by the bucket and I'm eager to load up on both.

Can you talk a little about the opportunity to be a part of Cartoon Crossroads and the importance of these kinds of events in raising the profile of comic art?

I think there is a particular magic to the intensely handmade nature of comics. Often it's a single person imagining, writing and drawing the thing. And at festivals it's common that this is also the person who printed, folded, stapled and is selling the comic. It's the polar opposite of how we experience most art/products in life.For me, the directness of the interaction/transaction is a rare thing and what makes comic festivals important and special both to fans and creators.

What will you be working on during your residency?

I have a few projects in the works, [including a] collection of old and new comics of mine to be published by Drawn and Quarterly. I'm also at work on a graphic novel project with the great people at StoryCorps to be published by Penguin Press. I'll also be doing a few public events, so I'll be at work socializing myself enough to be useful at those.

What kinds of materials will you be displaying at the museum for the exhibition? How was that assembled/curated?

The exhibition was curated by Jeffrey Sims at the Columbus Museum of Art. Together we selected a mix of work – mostly comics but also some illustration and sketches. Also my sketchbooks will be on display in vitrines, which I will also fill with some scattered little weird objects I've collected. If you've never seen an antique watchcase filled with baby teeth, this is your chance.

What was the entry point for you into this kind of art making, both as far as things that may have inspired you to pursue it, as well as some of your earliest opportunities/work?

I have always drawn so it's hard for me to name any precise entry point. It's easier to say making comics represents the intersection of a lot of interests/compulsions, and it's hard to see how I would have ended up doing anything else. I'm not tremendously useful at anything else. Personally, I am stymied and inspired by the endless possibilities and terrors of a blank page. And like I said, comics is unique in both its intensely handmade nature and also in the way it allows you to connect and communicate with a reader.There's an undiluted potency to the sort of experience you can create and share with comics that inspires the often tedious and long labor.

Can you speak on how you developed your unique voice as an artist? Your work is rich and varied but all shares a certain you-ness.

We're all a jumble of influences and ideals. I think when you start out you tend to mimic or force certain aesthetics that appeal to you, but in the end, you're just yourself. I don't know that you can consciously develop a style or voice – in the end it feels like you throw it in the pot and hope it's soup. It's frustrating but also a release. You're both destined and damned to have your own voice and create a certain type of work.

CXC Expo

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 and noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1

Columbus Metropolitan Library

96 S. Grant Ave., Downtown