11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Maximalism
Jesse Jacobs, Ron Regé, Jr, Lale Westvind, and Marnie Galloway address different subject matter in their books, but their work expresses a similar horror vacui: all fill the entirety of their pages with intricate detail. And although nature may abhor a vacuum, comics is often described as a combination of poetry and graphic design, a definition that would appear to set it in direct opposition to a maximalist aesthetic. This panel discussion, moderated by Galloway, will address what drives these four artists to work in their distinctive styles and how their approaches affect the kinds of stories that they tell. This panel is sponsored by Busy Beaver.
1:00–2:00 p.m. Panter²: Gary and Olive Panter in conversation
Texas-born cartoonist, illustrator, painter, designer, and musician Gary Panter is a child of the 1950s who blossomed under the grow-lamp glare of the psychedelic ’60s, survived underground during the ’70s, and finally made his mark on mainstream culture in the ’80s as head set designer for the TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse, a job which brought his jagged style and surreal ideas into the homes of America and bagged him two Emmy Awards. Among Panter’s notable comics are Jimbo, Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise, Jimbo’s Inferno, and Facetasm (with Charles Burns). His newest book, Songy of Paradise (Fantagraphics, 2017), is an inspired interpretation of John Milton’s retelling of Satan’s temptation of Jesus. This conversation pairs him with his daughter, artist Olive Panter, for a new take on the work of one of the greatest artists of our time, in comics and out.
This panel is sponsored by Print Ninja.
3:00–4:00 p.m. Fantagraphics 40th Anniversary Spotlight
Since its founding in 1976 by Gary Groth and Mike Catron (who were joined a year later by Kim Thompson), Fantagraphics has been changing the landscape of comics. In addition to championing work by many of the greatest alternative cartoonists of all time, such as Dan Clowes, the Hernandez Brothers, Carol Tyler, and many more, Fantagraphics has issued comics reprints that archive the history of the medium that might otherwise have been lost and has provided, in The Comics Journal, a venue for critical inquiry into the form long before comics studies was an academic discipline. We Told You So: Comics As Art collects the oral history of this influential company, assembled by comics historian and critic Tom Spurgeon (with co-author Michael Dean). Spurgeon, the editor and founder of the award-winning Comics Reporter website and festival director of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, will present a slideshow outlining the history of Fantagraphics and its position in the alternative comics movement. He will be joined by cartoonists Ivan Brunetti (Schizo, Misery Loves Comedy), Anya Davidson (Band For Life) and Noah Van Sciver (Disquiet, Saint Cole).
This panel is sponsored by Fantagraphics.
11:30–12:30 p.m. Comics and Resistance
This year, as right-wing extremism has produced a reality-television presidency, Brexit, and the specter of a neo-Nazi-led France, the question emerges: Can activism manifest as art? In this panel discussion, cartoonists Leila Abdelrazaq, Ben Passmore, Isabella Rotman, and Bianca Xunise will address how comics can galvanize populations to action. Although these artists address varied issues in their work—black alienation, the Palestinian diaspora, sexuality, and intersectionality, to name just a few—their comics are united by their political engagement and how they use the medium to reflect, and critique, society.
This panel is sponsored by Perfectly Acceptable Press.
1:00–2:00 p.m. “Comics Is a Way of Thinking”
In Gabrielle Bell’s and Kevin Huizenga’s work, comics is a site for poetry, autobiography, and fiction, but underlying these subjects is an exploration of the nature of thought, consciousness, existence, and the human condition. Comics is uniquely suited to investigate such issues, with its ability to convey both thought and speech, to represent time via the space of the page, and to graphically portray abstract ideas. Bell and Huizenga have, perhaps more than any other artists working today, exploited this potential. Designer and artist Alex Kostiw will moderate this discussion of how exactly these cartoonists use comics in pursuit of philosophical discovery. This panel is sponsored by CHIRP Radio.
3:00–4:00 p.m. Place as Character
According to an old maxim, all cartoonists lavish attention on either their characters or their settings, but not both. The work of Emil Ferris, Sophie Goldstein, Laura Knetzger, and Mita Mahato give the lie to this assertion because, in their comics, place is itself a character. Through the use of highly rendered drawings that overtake the page (Ferris), dense cut-paper landscapes (Mahato), a forest that represents the joy and mystery of discovery and growth (Knetzger) or deadly and deceptively destitute dystopias (Goldstein), these artists make their stories’ settings come alive. They are joined in conversation by moderator Rob Clough, a comics critic who writes primarily for The Comics Journal and High-Low. This panel is sponsored by Blick.
12:00–1:00 p.m. My So-Called Cartoon Life: Alter Egos with Celia Marquis
Comics is a great medium for telling personal stories, be they funny, contemplative, or traumatic. In comics narratives, authors’ alter egos may resemble them physically and/or psychologically, but they may also possess traits that their makers don’t have or that are exaggerated for various reasons. Join TRANSIT recipient Celia Marquis, a Montreal-based cartoonist, as she guides you through the process she uses to develop her own alter egos and then leads you through exercises to conceptualize your own. This workshop is sponsored by Cream Wine.
1:30–2:30 p.m. Zine Craft / Spell Cast with Alyssa Berg
Join Brooklyn-based comic-book artist Alyssa Berg for a workshop that is part zine crafting and part spell casting. Berg, whose ALPENGLOW won the Comics Workbook 2015 Composition Competition, will lead participants in creating a magic minizine through writing and drawing rituals. After considering the zine as a physical object that can be charged with intentions, attendees will make a unique eight-page spell zine. Materials will be provided, but interested participants should bring any special scraps or drawings they might want to include in their zines. This workshop is sponsored by Challengers Comics.
3:00–4:00 p.m. Professional FUN-damentals
Do you have a project you’ve been waiting to get off the ground? Do you have friends, colleagues, coworkers, and family members who are your superfans? What does it take to turn that passion for your work into profit? Hear from creators Kevin Budnik and C. Spike Trotman about their experiences in successfully supporting their projects and themselves. This professional-development workshop will give you the resources, knowledge, and inspiration, so you’ll just need to add the elbow grease! This workshop is sponsored by 826 Chi and Half Wit Coffee.
12:00–1:00 p.m. Comics 101
Are you a kid (or a kid at heart)? Do you love to doodle, draw, and invent amazing characters who you send on exciting adventures? Are you hoping to turn this hobby into a practiced skill? If so, then acclaimed teaching artist Corine Mucha’s workshop is perfect for you. Mucha will lead participants through a variety of exercises that will challenge and excite the next generation of comics creators. This workshop is sponsored by Quimby’s and is appropriate for all ages.
1:30–2:30 p.m. Visual Recipes: The Art of Instructional Comics
Do you have a special skill, piece of secret knowledge, family recipe, or weird trick that just has to be shared with the world? Learn how to simply and clearly teach it through the medium of comics. Jessi Zabarsky, who accomplished this very feat in her comic I Want To Eat Everything, will guide participants through the process, showing what it takes to create beautiful and comprehensible instructional comics, using techniques that will help artists make better comics in any genre. This workshop is sponsored by Revolution Brewing and is appropriate for all ages.
3:00–4:00 p.m. Signs of the Times: Abstracting Adaptation
Ron Regé, Jr., is best known for his adaptations of mystical and esoteric texts (The Cartoon Utopia, What Parsifal Saw), but throughout his career he has maintained an interest in the here and now, reflecting on the contemporary political climate. His most recent work, the Regé Deck, a set of cards for divination, responds to current events by reinterpreting Expressionist drawings made by Herman Rosse for Ben Hecht’s 1920s column 1001 Afternoons in Chicago. Regé will describe how he created this project and lead participants through the same process of concentrating complex ideas into the simplest possible statements, using images from the past to wrestle with the present—and maybe create a better future. This workshop is sponsored by Spudnik Press.
11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday The Press Box
Spudnik Press Cooperative is excited to debut its new mobile print project, Press Box. Named after the space dedicated to reporters and other members of the media at events such as sports games, Press Box invites all CAKE attendees to make their own headlines. Using repositionable metal plates, Press Box is letterpress printing–meets–magnetic poetry. The results are multicolored text-based prints that people are welcome to take home.