For the past couple of days, I’ve been trying to figure out what I’ve wanted to say about CAKE 2013. Probably the best thing I can say is that it’s reinvigorated my love of comic book shows. Wizard World Chicago and C2E2 have both morphed into these large, generic shows that are as much about the spectacle (if not more) than they are about comics. I’ve greatly enjoyed C2E2 but it’s not like I’ve come out of there the last couple of years excited about comics in that “Yay! Comics!” kind of way. It’s been more like “yay… geek/nerd consumerism culture. You go, girl,” as I’ve left McCormick place.
In some ways, CAKE is not my scene. With a self professed love of comics, the alternative, mini-comic, DIY subculture of comics is fairly new ground to me. From the modest confines of The Center On Halsted’s gymnasium, CAKE definitely has the feel of “hey, let’s put on a show out in the fields and hope that people will come.” It’s that do-it-yourself mentality that really caught my attention with the show and just all of the creators there. While I’m sure it took a tremendous amount of work to organize, walking into it felt like someone that morning decided to throw a comic show and called hundreds of their closest friends to come over.
At those big cons, I like walking artist alley but I’m horrible at it. I don’t have either the eyeor concentration at artist alley to really look at things and figure out what I want to buy. The last few years at C2E2, I’ve had shopping lists based off of who was listed. I walked around, knowing what I wanted to buy. Even with CAKE, I had an idea of what I wanted to look for thanks to their great Tumblr blog where they’ve been spotlighting the comics of their guests for at least the past few weeks.
Having been at a comic show at the Center (the late and lamented Windy City Con,) I had an idea of what to expect but I was unprepared just for how many cartoonists they fit into The Center’s gymnasium. The show was purely an artist alley, with aisle and aisles of cartoonists and their great comics. Mini comics were everywhere and I felt a little good that I recognized a bunch of names thanks to the Internet and podcasts. But there was still so much that was new there, unexplored and sadly unsought.
I was only there for a few hours on Saturday but I got to see the Chris Ware panel. Somehow I’ve never seen Ware talk about his work before. Heck, I’ve only just seen him in person for the first time recently at the Gilbert Hernandez signing at Quimby’s a couple of months ago. (That doesn’t sound too stalkerish, does it?). Chris Ware is one of those cartoonists whose artwork perfectly complements his personality. The most amazing thing he said is that he really doesn’t have a plan when he begins a page. Even with a Slideshow of these intricate double page spreads from Building Stories on display behind him, he talked about how he approaches the story open to with little idea of how he’s going to tell the story.
My one regret from the show is that I didn’t take more money with. Usually at cons, I try to limit myself to only buying things that I wouldn’t be able to easily find at a local comic shop or on Amazon. With this show, I just bought whatever I was interested in, including some stuff that I know I could buy on Amazon but I loved buying stuff either from the creators or from the small press publishers. I walked around the whole thing 2 or 3 times (which I was able to do since I got there early) before I bought anything. Here’s what I ended up getting at the show:
- The End of the Fucking World by Charles Forsman
- Providence Car Crash Consortium by the Providence Comics Consortium
- The Survivors by the Providence Comics Consortium
- Amazing Facts by Dan Zettwoch & Kevin Huizenga
- RL #1 & #1 by Tom Hart
- Copra Compendium by Michel Fiffe
- Sammy The Mouse Book 2 by Zak Sally
- Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
- Alarm Clock by Will Dinski
- Blindspot #1 & #2 by Joseph Remnant
- Cartoon Clouds Part 1 by Joseph Remnant
There’s so much more that I wanted to get but I ran out of spending money after all of this. Though to make up for part of that, I already ordered a 6 month subscription to Forsman’s Oily Comics. There’s already so much more that I want to get that I’ll find one way or another.
CAKE 2013 was a great show and I’m already looking forward to next year’s.