CAKE 2019

January 6, 2019

The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) is a weekend-long celebration of independent comics, inspired by Chicago’s rich legacy as home to many of underground and alternative comics’ most talented artists– past, present and future. Featuring comics for sale, workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions and more, CAKE is dedicated to fostering community and dialogue amongst independent artists, small presses, publishers and readers.

2019 Events

May 7, 2019

Saturday, May 11th


Kick-off event!  New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein will read from his new graphic novel, The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt, a biography of the 20th Century political theorist, published by Bloomsbury.  A Q&A with So What? Press publisher Dave Kelly and a book signing will follow.

Comix Revolution

606 Davis St

Evanston, Illinois


Wednesday, May 15th


So What? Press, Comix Revolution, and the Evanston Literary Festival present a discussion on how monsters, horror, and all kinds of spooky stuff aren’t just the domain of TV and film–comics can scare you, too. We’ll tackle how comics can be the perfect medium for such allegories, myths, and metaphors and how monsters and other manifestations can illustrate our fears and desires. Panelists include Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash), Corinne Halbert (Cursed Woman), Dave Kelly (Tales of the Night Watchman), with more to be announced!  Moderated by Northwestern University Library’s Gene Kannenberg Jr.

Comix Revolution

606 Davis St


Illinois b60201

Thursday, May 16th


One Book One Northwestern, Comix Revolution, and the Evanston Literary Festival present a discussion about the new graphic novel adaptation (March 2019) by Renee Nault of this year’s One Book selection, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. This panel will feature Terrence Gant (Third Coast Comics), Juan Martinez (author and Northwestern English professor) and Helen Thompson (English professor and Faculty Chair of One Book One Northwestern).  They will explore how the visual world of the graphic novel transforms this classic work of dystopian fiction.  How is Atwood’s dystopia reanimated by Nault’s visual text?  Does Nault’s graphic artistry speak to critical debates around the novel’s Hulu adaptation or appropriations of the handmaid figure as a template for feminist activism?   The panel will discuss how The Handmaid’s Tale’s transformation into the medium of graphic artistry offers us new ways to inhabit Atwood’s dystopia.

Comix Revolution

606 Davis St

Evanston, Illinois


Sunday, May 19th


So What? Press, Comix Revolution, and the Evanston Literary Festival present a discussion on the vitality of Chicagoland’s small press comics scene. The region is home to a healthy swatch of creators working in many different styles and genres. With the growth of shows like CAKE and Chicago Zine Fest, these creators have found new ways to expand their voices and come together as a community. We’ll address the benefits of such growth as well as the challenges creators still face.  Panelists include Evanston locals Keiler Roberts (Powdered Milk) and Scott Roberts (Get Uncomfortable With Being Uncomfortable); Jeff Zwirek (Burning Building Comix); and Marnie Galloway (In the Sounds and Seas).  Moderated by Northwestern University Library’s Gene Kannenberg Jr.

Comix Revolution

606 Davis St

Evanston, Illinois


Fri, May 31st, 7pm

CAKE FRIDAY EDITION of Drink n’ Draw at Quimby’s

Quimby’s is proud to help co-sponsor CAKE — The  (June 1st & 2nd at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N Halsted), a weekend fest featuring  for sale, workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions and more. The night before the fest join  artists for a special edition of Drink n’ Draw where  artists and educators,  (author of Spiral-Bound, Walker Bean,and Walker Bean and the Knights of the Waxing Moon) and  (author of Teaching Comics, Let Some Word That Is Heard Be Yours, Lawns) will lead a series of drawing games and activities! Come out for a fun time featuring refreshments, socializing and secret prizes!

Facebook Event Invite

Saturday, June 1:

11am-6pm: Chicago Alternative Comics Expo Day 1

CAKE 2019 Art by Marnie Galloway
CAKE 2019 Art by Marnie Galloway

8pm-11pm: CAKE After Party

Sunday, June 2:

11am-6pm: Chicago Alternative Comics Expo Day 2

CAKE 2019 Art by Marnie Galloway

6pm-8pm: Sunday After Party for Exhibitors and Volunteers

Join us on the Center on Halsted rooftop balcony at 6pm on Sunday night for an exhibitor after party from 6-8pm, with a cash bar and free snacks.

2019 Programming

May 2, 2019


Saturday, June 1st:


Symbols and motifs from the occult find their way into new stories again and again, from the apple to the ghost. Comics have been used to tell deeper stories about the human condition, to shock (in the Pulp sense) and awe (in the Old Testament sense), and by meddling kids to create fun and spooky adventures. This panel explores the many different approaches to how visual and narrative imagery from mythology, folklore, and the occult are used in comics and illustration. Join storytellers Corinne Halbert (Hate Baby), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Laura Jean Keeps Breaking Up With Me), Anders Nilsen (Big Questions, Tongues) and Isabella Rotman (Siren School) as they discuss their different utilizations of the supernatural, and how it allows them to tell deeper, more intricate stories. Moderated by Anya Davidson (Band For Life).This panel is sponsored by MCA.


Ezra Claytan Daniels’ acclaimed Upgrade Soul has revitalized the science fiction genre by mixing high concept ideas with a touching story about the human experience.  Ben Passmore’s Your Black Friend is a humorous yet poignant ‘letter’ that furthers the discussion of race, racism and friendship in America.  Ezra and Ben’s latest collaborative project, BTTMFDRS is an urban renewal horror story, blending the strengths and experiences of both creators into a haunting and thought provoking opus.  Join in as this amazing creative team discusses post-apocalyptic America, the reemergence of Afro sci-fi, science fiction as social commentary, collaboration, and a preview of BTTMFDRS! Moderated by Kevin Czap (Futchi Perf) This panel is sponsored by BLICK.

3:00-4:00  BEST COMEDY BRAIN ON THE PLANET: An Hour with Michael Kupperman

He’s made readers laugh, he’s made them cry. Michael Kupperman takes you through his career as a comic artist, illustrator and writer, starting in the zine world of the nineties, through working for the New Yorker and the New York Times, animations for Comedy Central and Saturday Night Live, his own comics and graphic novels (including his latest, serious book All the Answers), dressing up as Mark Twain, working and performing with comedians, and his Twitter adventures. You will not be bored.

This panel is sponsored by Spudnik Press.

Sunday, June 2nd:


Anders Nilsen is the award-winning comics creator of Big Questions,  Dogs and Water,  Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, and Tongues.  His stories are deep-rooted in mythology and philosophy, told through lusciously detailed illustrations and experimental narratives. Whether spending time with the pontificating animals of Big Questions, the heart-breaking experiences in Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, or wandering the wastelands of Dogs and Water, readers will always be drawn into the worlds Anders creates.  Join us for a discussion with Anders, exploring his entire body of work, his creative process, and a look at his newest issue of Tongues.  Moderated by Tyrell Cannon (Victus, Speculative Relationships). This panel is sponsored by CHIRP Radio.

1:00-2:00 GRAPHIC MEDICINE: Comics as Treatment

Many cartoonists struggle with anxiety in their lives and have found comics to be an effective  tool for managing and coping with the struggle of mental health. Join cartoonists Whit Taylor (Ghost, Fizzle), Sage Coffey (Sweaty Palms, Wine Ghost), Bianca Xunise (Say Her Name, In My Feelings, In My Thirties)  and Vreni (West Coast Husk) for a discussion about how they process negative thoughts and feelings through comics, taking care of themselves while working through difficult personal topics and how comics about mental health have helped connect people through shared experience. Moderated by Kevin Budnik. This panel is sponsored by Busy Beaver Button Co.

3:00-4:00 KRAMERS ERGOT: Then and Now

The preeminent art comics anthology hits double digits and returns with the first new volume since 2016! Encompassing a vast variety of styles, genres, formats, and geographical origins, Kramers continues to present a roster of talented creators who push the boundaries of the comics form. This panel traces the history of the series up through its most recent iteration with series editor Sammy Harkham and contributors including Anders Nilsen, Anya Davidson, Ivan Brunetti and CF! Moderated by Rian Murphy of Drag City Records!This panel is sponsored by Fantagraphics.


Saturday, June 1st:

11:30-12:30   LOOKS GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT: Drawing Food and Recipe Comics

How do you take the multisensory story of a meal and turn it into comics? Join illustrator and comics artist Sarah Becan (I think You’re Sauceome,  The Adventures of Fat Rice, Let’s Make Ramen) as we talk about the tricks and challenges of food illustration, different styles of drawing recipe comics, and how comics as a medium is uniquely suited to instructions. Learn how texture, color, and composition can help communicate our cherished memories, family histories and heirloom recipes with the world. Come with your favorite short recipe for food or drink, and we’ll turn them into beautiful illustrations to share. This panel is sponsored by Quimby’s.


Nicholas Gurewitch of The Perry Bible Fellowship joins Jackie Davis of Underpants and Overbites in simulating comics IN REAL LIFE. Directed by Nick and Jackie, participants may help create changes to a scene, using dry-erase word bubbles as outlets for crucial self-reflection! Part performance, part scene building exercise, this workshop blurs the lines between improvisational workshop and comics brainstorming session, where the key ingredients are the emotions and experiences of the participants involved.

This panel is sponsored by 826chi


How do I keep myself organized?  Where do people find freelance jobs even??  And omg HOW MUCH DO I CHARGE???  These questions and more plague the minds of artists and illustrators the world over.  Come get some answers and insight from creators Isabella Rotman (Siren School, Not On My Watch) and Marnie Galloway (In the Sounds & Seas).  This informational workshop provides vital information and best practices for working artists on topics such as time management, maintaining online presence & sales, finding support in your community, reviewing and writing contracts, wellness, and more!

This panel is sponsored by Print Ninja.

Sunday, June 2nd:


Ahoy there matey! Cast off into the seas with Eisner Award-winning illustrator and author Captain Aaron Renier (Spiral-Bound, Walker Bean, and Walker Bean and the Knights of the Waxing Moon) and embark on a mission to create the most vivid and imaginative maps to your fantasy worlds! This all ages workshop will teach you the how to’s of world-making and character building for your own seafaring (or landlubbering) adventure story!

This panel is sponsored by Revolution Brewing.

1:00-2:00 YOUR IDEAS MATTER! Advocacy Through Buttons

Like comics, buttons are a form of self-expression that can be used to tell personal and political stories. Buttons are wearable and shareable; they have the ability to spread your message and promote the causes and issues you’re passionate about. In this workshop you’ll learn how to put your own messages to action with the button making experts of Busy Beaver Button Co. You’ll leave the workshop with 2-4 buttons of your own making.

This panel is sponsored by First Aid Comics.


Feeling stuck? Like you can’t figure out which way to turn? Not sure which idea to build on? Are you overwhelmed or underwhelmed by your own ideas? Bring your comics making conundrums to Tom Hart ( Hutch Owens, Rosalie Lightning). Using his many years as a comics professional and educator, Tom will guide you through different exercises to release your inner cartoonist, allowing you to loosen up and follow your ideas from beginning to end. This story-generating workshop is suitable for all ages, but especially those looking to escape their comics-related quagmire.

This panel is sponsored by Challengers Comics.

2019 Special Guests

March 14, 2019

Ezra Claytan Daniels is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles, CA. His work has been featured at the Fantoche International Animation Festival in Baden, Switzerland, the Fumetto International Comics Festival in Lucerne, Haarlem Stripdagen in the Netherlands, and is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum. His graphic novel, UPGRADE SOUL, was the recipient of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics and was named one of the best books of 2018 by Publishers Weekly, Vulture, The Library Journal, and Paste. His graphic novel collaboration with Ben Passmore, entitled BTTM FDRS, will be released June 2019 by Fantagraphics Books. Table 316B

Ever since he was little, Nicholas Gurewitch has been told that he holds his drawing utensils in an uncommon way. His comic strip, The Perry Bible Fellowship, first published in Syracuse University's The Daily Orange in 2001. It quickly went on to be published all over the globe, including places like the Guardian, Playboy, and the Internet. Nicholas Gurewitch has worked on a number of never-televised TV shows, and has recently completed a picture book homage to Edward Gorey. Table 418

Corinne Halbert has lived and worked in Chicago since 2006. She was born in Anchorage, Alaska and grew up in suburbs of Boston. Halbert received her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008. She's a painter, illustrator and cartoonist who specializes in erotic horror and horror comics. Halbert has self-published six issues of Hate Baby comics since 2010 and has contributed comic strips to Black Eye, and Magic Whistle. When she isn’t rendering body cavities real and/or imagined with her signature psychedelic aplomb, Halbert peddles zines, comics, and other incendiary literature at Chicago’s revered Quimby’s Bookstore. Table 216

Michael Kupperman is an Eisner-winning comic artist and writer living in Brooklyn whose work has appeared in or on The New Yorker, Fortune, The New York Times, Nickelodeon Magazine, Forbes, Playboy, Heavy Metal, McSweeney’s, DC, Marvel, Vice, Saturday Night Live, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central, and five of his own books. All the Answers, published in 2018 by Simon & Schuster, was his first serious book (the others, with titles like Snake 'N' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret and Tales Designed to Thrizzle, were supposed to be funny). Table 308

Anders Nilsen is the artist and author of nine books including Big Questions, The End, and Poetry is Useless as well as the coloring book A Walk in Eden. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Kramer's Ergot, Pitchfork, Medium and elsewhere. His comics have been translated into several languages overseas and his painting and drawing have been exhibited internationally. Nilsen's work has received three Ignatz awards as well as the Lynd Ward Prize for the Graphic Novel and Big Questions was listed as a New York Times Notable Book in 2011. Nilsen grew up in Minneapolis and Northern New Hampshire. He studied art in New Mexico and lived in Chicago for over a decade. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.Table 106

Ben Passmore lives in self-imposed exile in the cut. His comics are about crime, monsters, anarchism, sexual dysfunction, police brutality, art theory, and his feels. Author of DAYGLOAYHOLE, Goodbye, and Your Black Friend, as well as the artist of BTTM FDRS. Table 316A

Aaron Renier is the author of three graphic novels for younger readers; Spiral-Bound, Walker Bean, and Walker Bean and the Knights of the Waxing Moon. He is the recipient of the Eisner award in 2006 for talent deserving of wider recognition, and was an inaugural resident for the Sendak Fellowship in 2010. He teaches drawing and comics at universities in Chicago. Table 227

Isabella Rotman is a cartoonist and illustrator from Maine living and drawing in Chicago. Her art is usually about the ocean, mermaids, crushing loneliness, people in the woods, or sex. Isabella was nominated for the Promising New Talent Ignatz award in 2017. She is author of the sexual health comic You're so Sexy When You Aren't Transmitting STIs and Artist in Residence at Table 504A

Whit Taylor is a cartoonist, editor, and health educator from New Jersey. Her comics have been published by The Nib, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Czap Books, Sparkplug, Rosarium, and others. Taylor co-edited Comics for Choice (pub. Hazel Newlevant), which won an Ignatz Award in 2018 for Outstanding Anthology. She likes to make comics about public health, mental health, social science, identity, and reality television.Table 507B

Rosemary Valero-O'Connell is a Minneapolis-born, Zaragoza raised cartoonist and illustrator. She's the artist of the Eisner nominated comic What Is Left (ShortBox, 2017) and the co-creator of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, alongside award-winning author Mariko Tamaki (First Second 2019). She's done work for DC Comics, BOOM! Studios, CAPY games, Crunchyroll, Mondo Tees, and Kazoo Magazine, among others. She won her second grade spelling bee by spelling the word 'human'. Table 518A


March 12, 2019

Please join us for CAKE’s 2019 Art Auction! Bid on original art from luminaries in alternative comics – like Jim Woodring, Isabella Rotman, and Nick Drnaso. Proceeds to benefit the all volunteer run Chicago Alternative Comics Expo for 2019.

Friday, April 19th
826 Chi
1276 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60622

This year’s auctioneer is Beth Hetland, assisted ably by Kyle O’Connell!
Comic readings by Sage Coffey and Corinne Halbert!

$10 admission, or $15 for admission with one drink and one raffle ticket.
Poster art by Tony Recktenwald.

RSVP to the Facebook Event: Click Here


CAKE 2019 Poster Artist Marnie Galloway!

January 7, 2019

The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo is very excited to announce our 2019 poster artist, Marnie Galloway!


Marnie Galloway

Marnie Galloway is a cartoonist and artist working in Chicago. Her first graphic novel, In the Sounds and Seas, was collected by One Peace Books in 2016 from a Xeric Award winning series. Other comics of note include Burrow (2016), Particle/Wave (2016), and Slightly Plural (2018).

 Marnie is also a former organizer of CAKE, and championed the creation of our Cupcake Award, which spotlights upcoming talent in indie comics. This year Marnie is also serving as mentor for Cupcake recipient, Diana H. Chu.

 Stay tuned for more artwork from Marnie and updates on CAKE 2019, June 1st-2nd at Center on Halsted.

CAKE 2019 Art by Marnie Galloway
CAKE 2019 Art by Marnie Galloway




Announcing the 2019 Cupcake Award Winner: Diana H. Chu!

November 17, 2018

CAKE is pleased to announce the winner of this year’s Cupcake Award: Diana H. Chu!

Diana H. Chu is an illustrator, comics artist, and zinemaker who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was selected by this year’s guest judge/mentor, Marnie Galloway, and she will use the Cupcake Award grant to create a new minicomic that will debut at CAKE 2019.

“With the mentorship & financial support of the 2019 Cupcake Award, I’m honored to expand the pool of visual narratives with my family’s own stories,” said Diana. “If the goal is to promote exposure / compassion vs. divisiveness, then cheers to this legacy of inter-artist collaboration. Thank you for your generosity, CAKE. I’m beyond thrilled.”

In addition to the winner, four honorable mentions were selected: JJ McLuckie, Clare Rosean, Cee Laverty, and Joe Maccarone.

About the Cupcake Award

The Cupcake Award is a juried prize that supports the publication of a new minicomic by an emerging artist whose work is primarily self-published. The winner of the award receives $250 to print a new minicomic, a free half table at the next year’s CAKE (where their minicomic will debut), and the mentor support of a special guest judge.

The CAKE 2019 Exhibitor Application Is Now Open!

CAKE is now accepting exhibitor applications for CAKE 2019, which will take place on June 1 and 2, 2019. Applications will be accepted through December 9th, 2018. Please apply here:

CAKE 2019 Exhibitor Applications are now open

November 9, 2018

CAKE 2019 Exhibitor Application Open Graphic

Hey everyone – it is with great excitement that we’re announcing the start of the CAKE 2019 Exhibitor Applications process!

Please apply here:

The application process will run through December 9th, so please take some time and show us your best work. We’re really looking forward to seeing your applications and hope to see you at the show next June.

We Are Now Accepting Applications for the 2018 Cupcake Award!

August 13, 2018


Thanks again to all of our exhibitors, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees for making CAKE 2018 a success! As we begin planning for next year’s CAKE, we are now accepting applications for the fifth annual Cupcake Award.

The Cupcake Award is a juried prize that supports the publication of a new minicomic by an emerging artist whose work is primarily self-published. The winner of the award will receive $250 to print a new minicomic, a free half table at next year’s CAKE (where their minicomic will debut), and the mentor support of this year’s special guest judge, Marnie Galloway. In addition, CAKE will promote the winning artist and their minicomic leading up to next year’s show.

The deadline for the application is September 30, 2018. Please visit our Cupcake Award page for instructions about how to apply, as well as eligibility guidelines and answers to frequently asked questions. If you have any additional questions, please email us at or fill out the form on the Cupcake Award page. We look forward to receiving some great applications, and we’ll see you at next year’s CAKE!

Debuting at CAKE 2018: The Hanging at Limestone Road, by Cupcake Award Winner Adam Griffiths

May 30, 2018

The winner of the fourth annual Cupcake Award, Adam Griffiths, will be debuting the minicomic created as a part of this award at CAKE 2018, which is coming up on June 2 and 3.

The Hanging at Limestone Road

Four boys head into the forest to investigate a reported suicide that may or may not coincide with a local legend. Described by the author as a mix of the “CUBE” sci-fi film series and Stephen King’s “Stand By Me,” this 50-page full-color horror mini-comic was commissioned as part of the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) Cupcake Award, which included guidance and mentoring with artist Edie Fake.

About the Cupcake Award

The Cupcake Award is a juried prize that supports the publication of a new minicomic by an emerging artist whose work is primarily self-published. The winner of the award receives $250 to print a new minicomic, a free half table at the next year’s CAKE (where their minicomic will debut), and the mentor support of a special guest judge.

About CAKE

The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) is a weekend-long celebration of independent comics, inspired by Chicago’s rich legacy as home to many of underground and alternative comics’ most talented artists–past, present, and future. Featuring comics for sale, workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions, and more, CAKE is dedicated to fostering community and dialogue among independent artists, small presses, publishers, and readers. For any questions about CAKE, please email