The 2012 Chicago Alternative Comics Expo took place June 16 & 17 at Columbia College of Chicago’s Luddington Building. It featured over 200 guests and exhibitors, and two full days of programming. Over 800 attendees visited this free celebration of alternative comics. This page archives information about CAKE’s first year.

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Guests & Exhibitors

Guests & Exhibitors


Krystal DiFronzo
Kurt Dinse
Jim Donaldson
Justin Hall
Britt C. H.
Sara McHenry
Otto Splotch

Jeffrey Brown

Lilli Carré

Closed Caption Comics

Noel Freibert (Closed Caption Comics)

Andrew Neyer (Closed Caption Comics)

Molly Colleen O’Connell (Close Caption Comics)

Conor Stechschulte (Closed Caption Comics)

Erin Womack (Closed Caption Comics)

Paul Hornschemeier

Lucy Knisley

Anne Elizabeth Moore

Corinne Mucha

Anders Nilsen

Laura Park

Domitille Collardey (Pizza Island)

Lisa Hanawalt (Pizza Island)

Julia Wertz (Pizza Island)

John Porcellino

Nate Powell

Trubble Club

Nate Beaty (Trubble Club)

Rachel Niffenegger (Trubble Club)

Aaron Renier (Trubble Club)

Grant Reynolds (Trubble Club)

Joe Tallarico (Trubble Club)

Jeremy Tinder (Trubble Club)

2D Cloud

Domino Books

ITDN Group

Koyama Press

Charles “Zan” Christensen (Northwest Press)

Retrofit Comics

Secret Acres

Sparkplug Comic Books

Tugboat Press

Uncivilized Books

Jean-Marc Alexis

David Alvarado

Pat Ausilio

Rina Ayuyang

Noelle Barby

Julia Barr

Cara Bean

Sarah Becan

Gabrielle Bell

Ben Bertin

Birthday Boy Comics

Tony Breed

Nicholas Breutzman

Kevin Budnik

Billy Burkert

Odin Cabal

Kevin Cannon

Tyrell Cannon

Sally Carson

Cartoon Picayune

RJ Casey

Jon Chad

Danielle Chenette

Anthony Clark

Tyler Cohen

Colour Code

Kevin Czapiewski

Ken Dahl

Evan Dahm

Ezra Claytan Daniels

Michael DeForge

Sean Dove

Sara Drake

Kris Dresen

Nick Drnaso

Neil Fitzpatrick

Sean Ford

Charles Forsman

C. Frakes

Alex Fukui

Jay Fuller

Amaya G

Penina Gal (Werewolf Anthology)

Marnie Galloway

Emi Gennis

Nicole J. Georges

Andy Glass

JD Glass

Sophie Goldstein

Dustin Harbin

Alisa Harris

Alyssa Herlocher

Keith Herzik

Beth Hetland

Hidden Fortress Press

Nate Higley

Lyra Hill

Sam Hiti

Meghan Hogan

Raighne Hogan

Kevin Huizenga

Ursula Murray Husted

Robin Hustle

David Huyck

Jesse Jacobs

Damien Jay

Hellen Jo

Cathy G. Johnson

Elliot Junkyard

Tom Kaczynski

David Kelly

Bart King

King Mini

Robert Kirby

Aidan Koch

Bret Koontz

Scott Kroll

Chris Kuzma

Patrick Kyle

The Land Line

Ginette Lapalme

Blaise Larmee

Jason Leivian

Jon Macy

Sally Madden

Jonas Madden-Connor

Justin Madson



Benjamin Marra

Joel Maxime Jr

Ted May

Ian McDuffie

Bernie McGovern

Carrie McNinch

James McShane

Anthony Meloro

Melissa Mendes

Rebecca Grady Mir

Talya Modlin

Max Morris


Annie Murphy

Pranas T. Naujokaitis

L. Nichols

Diana Nock

Paul Nudd


Evan Palmer

Roxanne Palmer

Caroline Paquita

Cody Pickrodt

Lark Pien

Plastic Crimewave

JP Pollard

Press Gang

Providence Comics Consortium

Reid Psaltis

Josh Reinwald

Eric Rivera

Keiler Roberts

Scott Roberts

Eric Roesner

Justin Rosenberg

Kenan Rubenstein

Jim Rugg

Marian Runk

Brittney Sabo

Clio Reese Sady

Ryan Sands

Erik Schneider

Eric Schuster

Chad Sell

Josh Shalek

Sam Sharpe

Naji Sierra

Tim Sievert

Caitlin Skaalrud

Justin Skarhus

Jeremy Sorese

Zack Soto

Ryan Standfest

Leslie Stein

Sasha Steinberg

Betsey Swardlick (Werewolf Anthology)

Mike Taylor

Tiny Kitten Teeth

Jen Tong

Thomas Toye

Ashby Utting

Hedwig Vinson

Jason Viola

Leslie Weibeler

Lale Westvind

Matt Wiegle

Jonathan Bell Wolfe

Calvin Wong

Rv. Xen

Mickey Zacchilli

ZMK Press



Saturday, June 16 2012

12:00pm – 1:00pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Classroomjammer Kids

Teaching Comics
with Corinne Mucha, Nicole J. Georges, Walker Mettling, and Josh Bayer
moderated by Aaron Renier

Everyone knows kids make the best drawings and have the best stories – now it’s time to talk about harnessing those skills and helping kids make great comics. What’s the role of an artist/teacher? How do you set out to “teach” making comics – and what are the results?
(((Click Here for Audio)))12:30pm – 1:30pm, 1st Floor Conaway Stage

Real Life

A Round Table on Women and Graphic Autobiography
with Rina Ayuyang, Julia Wertz, Leslie Stein, Marian Runk, Keiler Roberts and Lucy Knisley

Autobiography has pushed the boundaries of what comics can be and how memoir can be embodied. Real life recounted in comics form is often capable of finding places that are the most funny, relatable and true. This roundtable conversation examines the challenges and rewards of working (and playing) with your own life as subject matter.
(((Click Here For Audio)))1:30pm – 3:00pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Double Vision

Comics and Animation
with a Q&A featuring Jo Dery, Jim Trainor, Amy Lockhart, Nate Beaty and Marc Bell
Curated by the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation

The unique kinship of Comics to Cartoons is undeniable, and yet, hard to put your finger on. Chicago’s Eyeworks Animation Festival has handpicked a screening of work focusing on this not-so-secret love affair. Several filmmakers will be in attendance to discuss their work.2:00pm – 4:00pm, 1st Floor Conaway Stage

Violent Line

Mark Making and Meaning
with Grant Reynolds, Anya Davidson, Conor Stetschulte,
Mickey Zacchilli, Charles Forsman, Lale Westvind and Patrick Kyle

moderated by Noel Freibert

We are quite possibly living in comics’ Grindhouse Era: outrageous violence, magic, sex and drama abound and the resulting graphics are delivered with both a self-assured sensationalism and a self-aware sophistication. The resulting bloodbath can transcend the tropes of the genre or wallow in the rot of it all… or both. The Violent Line will be looking at how horror and gore can be sed as drawing tools and how artists arrange a smorgasbord of influences to go in for the kill.3:30pm – 4:30pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Free Smells

A Comic Mixtape
with Ryan Sands

West-Coast-smart-attack Ryan Sands has never failed to surprise and delight with every editorial endeavor and internetscape project he’s embarked upon. Like a live-action- mega-mix-totally-tumbl’d-love-letter-to-the-world he’s put together a slide show cheat sheet for the rest of us to try to keep up.4:30pm – 5:30pm, 1st Floor Conaway Stage

Wacky Wall Walkers

Comics and Fine Art
with Paul Nudd, and Karl Wirsum
moderated by Joe Tallarico
sponsored by the Art Institute of Chicago

What’s the difference between the pages of a comic and the walls of a gallery and how can we describe the ever shifting divide between highbrow and lowbrow art? Would we even want to? WWW probes into the history of cross-pollination between these the two arenas and the value of putting comics in your art and art in your comics.5:00pm – 6:00pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Low Brow, High Mesh

Silk Screened Comics
with Sanya Glisic, Keith Herzik, Jen Tong, and Tom Toye
moderated by Carrie Vinarsky

Silkscreened comics often double as artists’ books, offering doorways into texture and craft and far-out experiments in layered imagery and color. With screenprinted comics becoming more and more popular (while still remaining just as labor intensive!), this conversation looks at how the medium effects the language of comics, and vice versa

Sunday, June 17 2012

12:00pm – 1:00pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Comics in Chicago

The Past 10 Years
with Jeremy Tinder, Paul Hornschmeier, Lyra Hill, Robin Hustle and Ezra Claytan Daniels
moderated by Edie Fake

sponsored by the Chicago Independent Radio Project

Besides having a consistently vibrant population of cartoonists, Chicago has been the home base for a vast variety of comics collectives, participatory drawing events and experimental endeavors. Glancing back across the past decade, points of cohesion develop where group efforts can shape community, and strange new presentations can impact an entire scene.12:00pm – 1:30pm, 1st Floor Conaway

Jeffrey Brown

Draws a Minicomic

By our calculations, Jeffrey Brown’s maximum operating capacity is 5,840 minicomics a year.1:30pm – 3:00pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Crude and Rude

The Importance of Vulgarity
with Ivan Brunetti, Lisa Hanawalt, Hellen Jo, and Onsmith
Moderated by Josh Reinwald and Justin Rosenberg

Sponsored by Quimby’s Bookstore

The first rule just might be that there are no rules. Comics have gained notoreity as a medium where any taboo or transgression can be splayed across the page and the result can warp the psyches of an entire generation. Some of our meanest, grossest, most-favorite-est cartoonists working today take the stand to talk about the power – and limitations – of being as bad as you wanna be.
(((Click Here For Audio)))2:00pm – 4:00pm, 1st Floor Conaway Stage

Start a Micropress

with Annie Koyama, Jesjit Gill, Caroline Paquita,
Sarah Becan, Austin English, and Greg Means,
moderated by Zak Sally

Some of the most exciting, ambitious, focused and challenging work in comics today is being put out by micropresses – visionary small operations with artist-focused philosophies and commitment to excellent production values. This conversation looks at both the technical side of how things get started and the internal goals and ideas behind running a publishing operation.3:30pm – 4:30pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Queer Communities, Queer Anthologies

with Annie Murphy, Justin Hall, and Robert Kirby
moderated by Noah Berlatsky
sponsored by Little Heart, a Comic Anthology for Marriage Equality

A sense of aesthetic community is perhaps one of the most essential and undefinable aspects of assembling an anthology. Similarly, defining a queer community can be both incredibly tricky and unconditionally inspiring. The editors of three powerhouse LGBTIQ comics anthologies discuss the overlap and feedback between grouping and identity and what forms of community queer comics can build.4:30pm – 5:30pm, 1st Floor Conaway Stage

Anders Nilsen, John Porcellino, and Kevin Huizenga

in Conversation
moderated by Caitlin McGurk

With versatile bodies of work that span from self-published minis to long-running serials to graphic novels, Huizenga, Nilsen and Porcellino have all carved their own visual eloquence through their explorations of the human condition. The three come together here for a comics discussion moderated by Caitlin McGurk, librarian at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.5:00 – 6:00pm, 8th Floor Auditorium

Just the Facts

LadyDrawers at Work
with MariNaomi, Sara Drake, Nicole Boyette and the LadyDrawers
moderated by Anne Elizabeth Moore

The LadyDrawers project crunches some hard numbers on the comics industry while also documenting the lived experience of women and people of color working in comics. Sur facing last year with a sweeping postcard project and a column on TruthOut , LadyDrawers ignited (and weathered) some irate outrage while continuing its confrontational presentation of what the statistics are and what they mean, its eyes on the prize of media equity.

Connected Events

Anders Nilsen: Adam and Eve Sneak Back
Into the Garden to Steal More Apples

Opening Reception
Elmhurst Art Museum
150 Cottage Hill Avenue
Elmhurst, Illinois
Friday, June 15
Spudnik Press Open House
1821 W Hubbard St, Suite 302
Friday, June 15
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Our friends at Spudnik are opening their doors for a celebration of their space and their graduating printmakers!
Kevin Huizenga & Dan Zettwoch
at Quimby’s Bookstore

1854 W North Ave
Friday, June 15
Brain Trubble
Happy Dog Gallery
1542 N Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor
Performative comics readings & live drawing!
a collaboration between Trubble Club & Brain Frame
with special guests, Gabrielle Bell, Mike Taylor& Leslie Stein!
Eat Before We Eat You
Reception at the Morpho Pop Up Gallery
208 S Wabash
Saturday, June 16
6:00pm – 8:00pm
a CAKE-related art show
Curated by Paul Nudd and Onsmith



Apostrophe to the Ocean

An Army of Lovers Will Be Beaten vol 2

CAKE Book 2012

Darth Vader and Son

Finn and Charlie are Hitched vol 3

For the Hospiralized and Adorably Bored

Fuck Shits


Galactic Zoo Dossier #9

High Score

Hot Dog Beach #2

Human Condition #2

Hypnotic Induction Technique

Injury Comics #4

Island Brat 2

July Diary

Jumbly Junkery #11

Legend of Bold Riley

Little Heart


Magic Hedge #2

Miss Priss is Missing

Midwestern Cuban Comics


Prizon Food #2

Rage of Poesidon

Rav #6

Skids #1

Startled Maggie


Structures 12-23

Suck It Up!

Thickness #3

Three #3


Year of the Beasts



by Laura Park



Art Institute Of Chicago
Busy Beaver Button Company
Little Heart, a Comic Anthology for Marriage Equality
Mercat a la Planxa
Metropolis Coffee Company
Quimby’s Bookstore
Read/Write Library
Silver Tongue Reading Series
Spudnik Press

The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo could not have been possible without the support of the following individuals, organizations and businesses,
2D Cloud, Adventure School for Ladies, Chris Alder, Art Institute of Chicago, Josh Bayer, Cara Bean, Robert Boyd, Brain Storm, Tony Breed, Adam Buttrick, Julian Callos, April Camlin, Lilli Carré, Challengers Comics and Conversation, Chicago Comics, CHIRP, Marta Chudolinska, Francis Cleary, Tyler Cohen, Columbia College Chicago’s Silver Tongue Reading Series, Heather Colby, Comics Revolution, Karen Cooper, Samuel Crider, Kevin Czapiewski, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Christopher Day, Brandon Eaker, Laila Emir, Ausin English, Dave Foland, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Andy Gabrysiak, Timothy Gagne, Anna Ha, Happy Dog, Dustin Harbin, Erica Heflin, Hideout Chicago, Lyra Hill, Hungry Brain, David, Huyck, IndieGoGo contributors who did not wish to be name, Jesslyn Jalayerian, Damien Jay, Karen Johnson, David King, Jennifer Koski, Koyama Press, Patrick Kyle, Joshua Landsman, Angee Lennard, Jesse Lucas, Brian Lyons, Sarah M, Liz Mason, Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar, Benjamin Merry, Lane Milburn, Laurie Morris, Sarah Morton, Mortville, Margaret Herlocher Nathe, Elizabeth Nelson, Ilan Bayles Obejas, Molly O’Connell, Marcio Paes, Laura Park, Luke Pearson, David Perez, Quimby’s Bookstore, Ness Raygo, Mike Rende, Brad Rohloff, Andres Rothschild, Kenan Rubenstein ,Marian Runk, Secret Acres, Shameless Karaoke, Brian Slattery, Marie Snyder, Carly Sorge, Jess Speer, Ryan Standfest, Third Coast Comics, Fereshteh Toosi, Joseph Torres, Trubble Club, Tugboat Press, Two Cookie Minimum, Christopher Varney, Carrie Vinarsky, Molly Walsh, Lale Westvind, John Yingling, Adam Zwirek, & last but not least, Mairead Case & Jill Summers!



Neil Brideau
Edie Fake
Max Morris
Grace Tran
Jeff Zwirek

A great deal of decision making and support came from the CAKE Advisory committee:
Gregory Baldinio • Sarah Becan • Matt Brady • Andy Burkholder • Tyrell Cannon • Lilli Carré •
Ed Choy • Jo Dery • Sara Drake • Nick Drnaso • Lyra Hill • Mason Johnson • Lucy Knisley •
Ben Marcus • Liz Mason • Bernie McGovern • Ben McLeod• Corinne Mucha • Paul Nudd • Aaron Renier • Grant Reynolds • Marian Runk • Sam Sharpe • Joe Tallarico • Jeremy Tinder

A final big thanks to everyone who was involved with CAKE, supporters, volunteers, exhibitors, small press publishers, special guests, and attendees! Thanks so much.