WHETHER THE THREAT be annual summer interns or 17-year cicadas, it’s a news outlet’s responsibility to warn of a swarming invasion. So we bring you the following emergency announcement:
The cartoonists are coming!
You may have just laughed, or scoffed, with an immense sense of non-alarm. But understand: The Washington region has perhaps never seen such a cluster of Cartoonus northamericanus. Superhero-comic masters and political cartoonists and indie creators will descend this month for three events. Start stockpiling the water and India ink now.
Two of the public shindigs are annual occasions, but both have grown in popularity and attract more A-list headliners. Sept. 8 and 9 bring Baltimore Comic-Con, which still feels like a real comic-lover’s convention — one that hasn’t been consumed by Hollywood like a few others we could name. The following weekend, Sept. 15-16, the burgeoning Small Press Expo takes over the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, featuring twice the exhibition space as last year.
This election year, though, attracts a third cartoon-apalooza as part of the artists’ invasion. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists will hold “#!&%!! Cartoons — a Festival Celebrating the Political Cartoon,” Sept. 14-15 at George Washington University, as well as companion presentations at the Library of Congress and the Newseum.
The ambitious #!&%!! festival will feature some of the world’s top political-cartooning talent, including at least a dozen Pulitzer winners (The Post’s Tom Toles and Ann Telnaes among them) and award-winning Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who will receive the AAEC’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award. Ferzat made global headlines last year after government forces, responding to his critical artwork, kidnapped him, beat him and battered his hands.
Washington is the ideal city, of course, to launch a festival featuring more than 50 acid-penned jesters. The city is ripe for caricature, and one man’s seat of power is another funnyman’s dunk-tank of satire.
“Many of the country’s best editorial cartoonists will be showing what the current state of the art is,” says AAEC President-elect Matt Wuerker, Politico’s Pulitzer-winning cartoonist. “From traditional single-panel newspaper cartoonists to animated, interactive app cartooning, to comics journalism, we’ll be presenting our work, demonstrating drawing — and kicking around our favorite topics and cartoons of the current campaign.”
The multi-partisan affair will include such guests as alt-cartoonists Tom Tomorrow of the Daily Kos and Matt Bors (winner of this year’s Herblock Prize), New York Times contributor Brian McFadden, illustrator Steve Brodner, the Chicago Tribune’s Scott Stantis and the Economist’s Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher. There will also be a “Cartoon Death Match” event featuring Mike Peters, Keith Knight, Jen Sorensen and Mark Fiore.
Appearing at both the AAEC festival and Small Press Expo that same weekend will be Françoise Mouly, the New Yorker art editor and co-founder (with husband Art Spiegelman) of RAW Comics. Mouly says she’s attending the two events to show her support for political cartooning and indie comics — which she views as vital art forms enjoying “the best of times” in terms of online exposure.
As SPX doubles its space, Mouly will join such fellow featured guests as Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez.
“It’s heartening to be invited to an event where independent cartoonists are considered interesting and possibly even relevant — to say nothing of unapologetically using the word ‘small’ in their title,” e-mails Ware, the much-acclaimed creator of such works as “Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth.”
Of the lineup of indie-comic stars, SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard boasts: “This group of people has never, ever been at the same show at the same time — anywhere.” This year’s gathering will also spotlight Mark Newgarden’s show of rare film shorts about such legends as Rube Goldberg.
And one week before SPX hands out its Ignatz Awards, the prized Harvey Awards will be presented during a dinner at the Baltimore Convention Center. Among the star cartoonists at the Baltimore Comic-Con will be Marvel mastermind Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Mark Waid, Brian Bolland, Frank Quitely, Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr. and Frank Cho.
“I love Baltimore Comic-Con for the simple reason of being a true comic convention,” says Cho, a Maryland native famed for both his superhero work and his strip “Liberty Meadows.” Baltimore is “one of the biggest and purest shows in the nation. It’s created by comic-book fans for comic-book fans. It’s just comic-book professionals and comic-book fans, celebrating comic books.”
Superhero fans wearing homemade costumes. Mini-comic creators sharing their indie wares. And political cartoonists taking aim within a satiric stone’s throw of the Hill and the White House.
Let the invasion begin.
IF YOU ARE SO DRAWN:
Baltimore Convention Center
Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Two-day admission, $40;
Saturday only, $25;
Sunday only, $20;
Stan Lee VIP events, $200-$300.
Kids 10-younger free.
Electronic ticket registration encouraged.
Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
Saturday, 11 a.m.- 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
One-day membership, $10;
weekend membership, $15.
George Washington University, Jack Morton Auditorium, the Newseum and the Library of Congress.
Friday daytime festival pass (9 a.m.- 5 p.m.), $10; Friday “Cartoon Death Match” (6:30 p.m.), $10; Saturday daytime festival pass (9 a.m.-5 p.m.), $10.