Chris Ware Headlines An Impressive Chicago Alternative Comics Expo

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 13, 2013 7:00PM

2013_06_13_CAKE.jpg We realize that nobody involved with the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo thinks that there is a "K" in the word "comics," despite the event being officially abbreviated to "CAKE," but we think maybe they should just go with it. "Komics" looks way cooler than the outdated, wishy-washy, defined-by-what-it-isn't "Alternative Comics" moniker anyway. If there's any Kafka-esque panache afforded by that simple substitution it is secondary to the main benefit of the name: non-superhero, non-mainstream, post-underground comics yield some of the most interesting and vibrant art happening today, and it we don't need to see them as non-, post- or alternative to anything any more. They're fantastic, just the way they are.

If you don't believe us, try checking out the seriously impressive event the CAKE organizers have cooked up for their second annual expo, which has expanded from Columbia College's Ludington Building in the South Loop to the Center on Halsted in Lakeview. With two days of panels and 108 tables of weird and wonderful artists it's as if you were browsing through Quimby's and the creators of everything you were interested in suddenly showed up and you could give them a high five.

The heaviest hitter on the line-up is undoubtedly "Komics" icon Chris Ware, who will speak with Roctober honcho Jake Austen about his career and about Chicago, Saturday at noon. Other names that whet our appetite include underground comix legend Kim Deitch, Phoebe Gloeckner and Chicago's own Deb Sokolow (appearing with Jason Shiga and Aaron Renier, and Nate Beaty), to say nothing of outfits like Collective Stench and Oily Comics that will be on the scene. The full list of exhibitors, available online, has something for everybody.

As if that weren't enough, Lilli Carre and Alexander Stewart reprise the Eyeworks experimental animation fest that we can't get enough of. Let the non-Komics fans wait in long lines for Man of Steel to witness the profit-making mainstream bombast that even now propping up Hollywood. The interesting events, the surprising creations and the intriguing people can be found at CAKE, and all for free.

Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) takes place Saturday June 15 and Sunday, June 16, at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N Halsted. CAKE is free and open to the public.

CAKE Illustration by Jo Dery