Cartoon Crossroads Columbus logoCartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) announced the winners of multiple awards at its 2023 festival held in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend. CXC is a nonprofit, international showcase of the comic arts that brings together cartoon storytellers, comics makers, and animators along with the fans who love and are inspired by them. The winners were Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Daniel Clowes (Ghost World), Evan Salazar (Rodeo), and Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly).

Jenny Robb, Curator and Associate Professor at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and Raina Telgemeier, winner of the Transformative Work Award for Smile
Jenny Robb, Curator and Associate Professor at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and Raina Telgemeier, winner of the Transformative Work Award for Smile |

Raina Telgemeier won the Transformative Work Award for her autobiographical graphic novels including Smile, Sisters and Guts, all published by Scholastic Graphix that explore her struggles to fit in from sixth grade until high school.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier“With Smile, Raina Telgemeier changed the comics industry in wonderful ways,” said Shena Wolf, former director of comics development at Andrews McMeel Universal and a CXC Awards Committee member. “She made a deeply personal book that resonated to such a degree that its success shifted the way we talked about comics. Smile showed people who hadn’t seen themselves in comics (as subjects or creators) that yes, comics were for them. Comics are for everybody. It widened the lens of comics (as understood by the general public), and did it with craft, humor, and heart. There is no question that this is a transformative work, and Raina Telgemeier is incredibly deserving of this award.”

Past recipients of the Transformative Work Award include Lee Marrs & Trina Robbins for Wimmen’s Comix, an influential all-female underground comics anthology, in 2022; Alison Bechdel for Fun Home, an autobiographical graphic novel about the author’s youth, in 2021; and Nate Powell, Andrew Aydin & The Honorable John Lewis for March, a deep and personal look at the Civil Rights movement through a serialized comic trilogy, in 2020.

Daniel Clowes, winner of the Master Cartoonist Award
Daniel Clowes, winner of the Master Cartoonist Award |

Daniel Clowes won the Master Cartoonist Award for his groundbreaking collection of works that includes Ghost World and Monica (both available from Fantagraphics Books), the former of which became an indie comics classic and was adapted into a film that also has a cult following. Monica has just been released.

“Daniel Clowes is an artist that has helped to shape generations, reframing modern aesthetics and classic narratives with a technical prowess that was only matched by a boundless sense of humor,” said CM Campbell, a cartoonist and member of the Awards Committee. “As a storyteller Daniel Clowes reveals a special kind of truth. His work is frank in its framing of a subjective reality, a master in the craft of sharing his distinct point of view.”

He joins previous winners P. Craig Russell, Shary Flenniken, Jeff Smith (Bone), and Sergio Aragones (Groo the Wanderer, Mad Magazine) as recipients of the Master Cartoonist Award.

Rodeo #3 by Evan Salazar
Rodeo #3 by Evan Salazar

The Newly Emerging Talent Award, which comes with a $7,500 prize provided by Cartoon Books, went to Evan Salazar for works that include his self-published comics anthology series Rodeo, a collection that has been described as ”a bleak, beautiful vision of domestic malaise and the mysteries of growing up.”

“Using a narrative style that was familiar, yet strange, Evan is creating comics that make me curious about what will happen next,” said Chris Pitzer, former publisher of AdHouse Books and a member of the Awards Committee. “His talent for world-building is pretty exceptional.”

Others who have been recognized as emerging talents by CXC include Robyn Smith, who was recently recognized for her illustration work in Wash Day Diaries; illustrator Keren Katz; and Kat Fajardo, who recently put out the first graphic novel to be simultaneously published in Spanish and English, Miss Quinces.

Calvin Reid, winner of the Tom Spurgeon Award -
Calvin Reid, winner of the Tom Spurgeon Award |

The previously announced Tom Spurgeon Award, which honors those who have made substantial contributions to the field of comics, but are not primarily cartoonists, was presented to writer and editor Calvin Reid. Now retired, Reid was the news editor at Publisher’s Weekly, and the head of PW’s comics department. He has been a mentor and colleague for numerous comics journalists, including many Beat writers and editors.

“Calvin was one of the very first grown ups to get that comics are an art form, not a genre; they are a medium of literature,” says Vijaya Iyer, Cartoon Books publisher and CXC co-founder, “It took a pivotal figure like Calvin Reid to not only recognize the value of comics and graphic novels, but to use his position as a writer at the most important book trade magazine, Publishers Weekly, to shout it from the mountain top!”

This is the third time the Tom Spurgeon Award has been awarded. 2022’s winner was Frederik L. Schodt (translator and author of Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics), and in 2021 Mollie Slott, Orrin Evans, and Kim Thompson were recognized.