All Panels are located on the 3rd Floor Hoover-Leppen Theatre

All Workshops are located on 2nd Floor, in the John Baran Hall

2016 Panels and Workshops

Saturday, June 11


11:30–12:30 A 25th Anniversary Celebration of Quimby’s!

Ok, so a lot of things happened in 1991: with George H. W. Bush still in office, the Gulf War came to an end, the indie comics scene was still recovering from the so-called “black and white implosion,” Superman had about a year left to live, and Nirvana released Nevermind. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Steven Svymbersky opened a little shop on Damen Avenue that, he said, would “carry every cool—bizarre—strange—dope—queer—surreal—weird publication ever written and published,” a place where you could discover, he added, “something you never even knew could exist.” A quarter of a century later, Quimby’s, stuffed with comics and zines and poetry and novels and magazines and newspapers and other paper things that don’t even have a name yet, remains one of the premier bookshops in North America. Jake Austen, editor and publisher of the legendary Chicago music and comics zine Roctober, will moderate a conversation with zinemaker Liz Mason and cartoonists Gabby Schulz (a.k.a. Ken Dahl) and CAKE Special Guest Laura Park (Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream) about the history of Quimby’s and its legacy of strangeness and delight. Who’s bringing the cake? This panel is sponsored by The Center for Cartoon Studies.

1:00–2:00 Wimmen’s Studies: A Lecture and Conversation with Trina Robbins

From her early stories in It Ain’t Me, Babe (1970) to her work on Meet Misty and Wonder Woman in the 1980s to influential studies like Women and the Comics (1985) and Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013, Trina Robbins has inspired a generation of other cartoonists, writers, and herstorians. CAKE is honored to welcome one of the living legends of comics in the U. S. as she presents her lecture “Wimmen’s Studies,” which will touch on the history of Wimmen’s Comix, the groundbreaking series recently collected in hardcover (complete with 3D glasses) by Fantagraphics. Then, Trina will join writer and comics scholar Brian Cremins (Captain Marvel and the Art of Nostalgia) for a conversation about comics, art, life, and (maybe) cats. Be ready to take notes, ask questions, and maybe write some comics of your own after Trina works her magic. This panel is sponsored by Busy Beaver Button Co.

2:15–2:45 From Melbourne to Chicago

Melbourne, Australia-based Chris Gooch and Sarah McNeil, the TRANSIT inbound CHIPRC Artists in Residence, will discuss their comics and other art, as well as their publishing endeavors, particularly in Risograph printing. They will also speak about their experience creating new work in Chicago as part of their residency at the Chicago Publishers Resource Center (CHIPRC).

3:00–4:00 Personal Comics in the Broader Culture

Join us as CAKE Special Guest Cathy G. Johnson—creator of the austere and melancholy new book Gorgeous (Koyama Press)—leads a roundtable discussion about journal comics and the challenges of creating personal, idiosyncratic work in which the microcosm of the personal becomes effective in the macrocosm of life. Joining her in this discussion will be three other innovative creators whose life and art are closely intertwined: cartoonist and illustrator Miranda Harmon, Ben Passmore (DAYGLOAYHOLE), and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Little World, The World and How It Came to Be). This panel is sponsored by Alleycat Comics.


11:30–12:30: One Page, Endless Possibilities!

Comics are truly a democratic medium; all you need are your imagination, a pencil, and a piece of paper! In this workshop, Alex Nall and Pranas T. Naujokaitis will take you through a fun exercise to light the spark and help you produce a one page comic, totally on the spot! This workshop is for all ages, and it is perfect for both beginners and those well versed in the creation of comics. Alex Nall is a local cartoonist and teacher, most recently completing a successful GoFundMe campaign to fund his latest collection of stories, Teaching Comics Vol. 1, about teaching art in Chicago Public Schools. Pranas T. Naujokaitis is currently writing the Adventure Time: Ice King Mini Series for Boom! Studios. This workshop is sponsored by Riverside Graphics.

1:00–2:00: Making Freelance Work(shop)

It might sound crazy, but it’s possible to make money being an artist! SHOCKING! Join Tyrell Cannon, Beth Hetland ,and Ezra Claytan Daniels as they expose the mysteries of the freelance illustration and comics world, starting with the ins-and-outs of contacting clients and showing them your work, negotiating fair prices and contracts, and learning to manage your time and life while self employed. Tyrell Cannon is a comic book artist from Chicago, known for his comics Gary, Simon, and Victus. He is also the co-editor of the Speculative Relationships comics anthology. Beth Hetland is part of the faculty at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Cartoonist alumna of The Center for Cartoon Studies (’11), currently collaborating with Kyle O’Connell on their series Half Asleep. Ezra Claytan Daniels, a Los Angeles-based cartoonist and designer, is best known for the immersive digital comic, Upgrade Soul. This workshop is sponsored by Challengers Comics + Conversation.

3:00–4:00 Full Bleed, Full Disclosure: Printing Comics in 2016

The options for printing comics in 2016 are varied, affordable, and robust. In this workshop, join offset printing company Print Ninja, and microcomics publisher 2dcloud, as they demonstrate and explore the proper way to set up a comic for printing, the various challenges and rewards that come with being a self-published cartoonist, deciding what kind of printing works best for a certain project, funding your project, and different avenues of distribution.

Sunday, June 12


11:30–12:30 “With Eyes to See”: Chester Brown in Conversation with Sammy Harkham

An old man, his face lined and thin, sits in darkness. He’ll try one more time to tell his story, with the “hope that, eventually, readers with eyes to see will understand.” The writer is St. Matthew, one of the luminous figures in Chester Brown’s new book Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus. What does the world look like once we learn to see it with new eyes? And how might comics inspire these sorts of visions? Please join us as Sammy Harkham, the mastermind behind Kramer’s Ergot and Crickets, talks informally with Chester about the mysteries of comics and storytelling. This panel is sponsored by Quimby’s Bookstore. Chester Brown’s appearance is sponsored by Graham Crackers Comics.

1:00–2:00 “Pictures of Pictures”: A Roundtable on Poetry and Comics

A question: how would you draw this? “The jonquils are walled/There are pictures of pictures/on the wall.” What happens if we read those lines, the closing ones from the late Elise Cowen’s poem “Justice in the Left Hand,” as a comic? And how might we learn to read these images if, as scholar Hillary Chute has suggested, we study the connections between comics and poetry? With these questions in mind, we’ve asked a poet who takes inspiration from Harvey Pekar and Neal Adams to moderate a roundtable with four of the most forward-thinking artists working in comics today. Tony Trigilio, interim chair of Creative Writing at Columbia College and author of books including Historic Diary and The Complete Dark Shadows of My Childhood, Book I, will speak with Krystal DiFronzo (The Good Hodgkins, and our CAKE 2016 poster artist), Sarah Ferrick (S. Song, Close to You/Elsa), Marnie Galloway (In the Sounds and Seas), and CAKE Special Guest Patrick Kyle (Don’t Come in Here). Meanwhile, who’s to say what these “pictures of pictures” might reveal? This panel is sponsored by First Aid Comics.

3:00–4:00 A Celebration of Sparkplug Comic Books

CAKE 2016 will mark the last show for Sparkplug Comic Books, a company that, throughout its 14 years, has played host to an exciting and fresh roster of diverse artists. Founded by Dylan Williams, whose strong ethical sense and personal taste drove the direction of the company, Sparkplug was a resolutely small press, focused on handmade and independently produced comics in a world veering ever toward mass production. After Williams passed away in September of 2011, his wife, Emily Nilsson, took over, and, in February 2013, passed the helm to artist Virginia Paine, who has been running the company since. This discussion will bring together a combination of artists who’ve worked with Sparkplug throughout the years, many of whom are also, in the vein of Dylan Williams, multi-hyphenates: artists, publishers, distributors and critics. Chris Cilla (Rattlesnake Dick, The Heavy Hand), Zak Sally (Sammy the Mouse, La Mano Press), Suzette Smith (Ce/Ze), and moderator Austin English (Gulag Casual, Domino Books) join together to celebrate 14 years of an amazing small press and the important work of Virginia Paine, Emily Nilsson and and Dylan Williams. This panel is sponsored by Comix Revolution


11:30–12:30 The Age of Riso: The Ins and Outs of Riso Printing with Matt Davis and Sarah McNeil

The Risograph combines the speed and ease of a photocopier with the vivid colors of silkscreening. Come learn about this affordable, easy-to-use digital printer with Matt Davis, comics publisher and owner of Chicago’s Perfectly Acceptable Press, and TRANSIT inbound CHIPRC Artist in Residence Sarah McNeil. Matt will survey the history of Risography, explain how the machine is operated, and share his ideas on how to get the most out of this printing method. Workshop participants will then produce a two-color print in collaboration with Sarah. Whether you’re new to the Riso or have been using it for years, don’t miss this opportunity to pick up insights from two master printers and trade tips with fellow aficionados. This workshop is sponsored by Rotofugi.

1:00–2:00 Sound and Vision: Color with Leslie Stein

Come explore color with Brooklyn-based artist and musician Leslie Stein, author of Eye of the Majestic Creature and Bright-Eyed at Midnight. Following an introduction to her materials and process, Leslie will demonstrate how she hand colors her drawings, then lead participants through colored pencil and watercolor exercises that show how color can grab readers’ attention and establish control (or lack of control) around a design. Some exercises will incorporate music to investigate how it can affect one’s drawing. Supplies will be provided, but feel free to bring your favorite color media for this trip beyond black and white. This workshop is sponsored by Fantagraphics Books.

3:00–4:00 Making Funny Pictures: Humor from Ordinary Life with Amy Lockhart and Gina Wynbrandt

Want to make readers laugh and cringe when reading your stories? Then join animator Amy Lockhart and cartoonist Gina Wynbrandt for a workshop in making funny comics. After sharing their own approaches to writing narratives and finding the humor in any material, Amy and Gina will lead participants through a series of exercises meant to help you approach storytelling from different angles. Using word and picture prompts, participants will first work individually and then collaboratively, recycling and reconfiguring the material produced at each stage into hopefully funnier—and definitely stranger—forms. For mature audiences only. This workshop is sponsored by Chicago Comics.