Announcing the Special Guests and Poster Artist for CAKE 2018!

March 21, 2018

CAKE 2018 is coming up on June 2 and 3, and we’re proud to announce this year’s poster artist and special guests!

Our artwork for this year was created by Johnny Sampson:

CAKE 2018 Special Guests

Tony Breed

Tony Breed

Tony Breed is the man behind the web comics Muddlers Beat and Finn and Charlie are Hitched (nominated for an Ignatz in 2011). Both are newspaper style slice-of-life-comics with the same cast. Muddlers Beat is about the creative floundering of a group of young and middle-aged people; Hitched tells the story of married gay couple and their friends. Expect jokes about indie rock, romance, sperm banks, and depression. In addition to making comics, Tony is a founding member of Chicago’s CHIRP Radio, where he DJs every Friday morning.

Eddie Campbell

Eddie Campbell has made a career of drawing comics of an idiosyncratic and personal nature, as collected in Alec: The Years Have Pants. At the same time he has lent his graphic abilities to the enormous and internationally bestselling graphic novel, From Hell, written by Alan Moore. He has been married to novelist Audrey Niffenegger for two years and together they have created the book, Bizarre Romance. He is also a writer on the history and theory of comics and The Goat Getters is his latest contribution to that line of inquiry.

Nick Drnaso

Nick Drnaso was born in 1989 and grew up in Palos Hills, Illinois. He is the author of Beverly (2016) and Sabrina (2018), both published by Drawn & Quarterly. He lives in Chicago.

Nicole Hollander

Nicole Hollander is best known for her syndicated comic strip, Sylvia. Her work has been archived in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at Ohio State University, alongside Roz Chast’s, Bill Watterson’s, and other greats. She has published fifteen books. She lives in Chicago.

Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger is a writer and artist who makes artists books, prints, comics and novels. Her books The Time Traveler’s Wife, Raven Girl, Her Fearful Symmetry and others have been published internationally. She’s married to Eddie Campbell and they have collaborated on a new book, Bizarre Romance.

Mimi Pond

Mimi Pond is a cartoonist, illustrator, humorist and writer. Her graphic memoir, “The Customer is Always Wrong,” was by Drawn and Quarterly in Spring 2017. It is the long-awaited 400 pages+ sequel to 2014’s “Over Easy,” which detailed her post-art school waitressing career in the late 1970s in Oakland Ca. Pond has created comics for the Los Angeles Times, Seventeen Magazine, National Lampoon, and many other publications too numerous to mention, along with five humor books. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the painter Wayne White.

Fiona Smyth

Fiona Smyth is a feminist painter, illustrator, and cartoonist. For thirty-two years she has covered Toronto and elsewhere with her distinctive female charged graphics. She illustrated writer and sex educator Cory Silverberg’s Kickstarter funded picture book “What Makes A Baby” in 2012, re-released by Seven Stories Press in 2013. The second book in the series, “Sex Is A Funny Word,” was named a 2016 ALA Stonewall Book Award Honor book and won the 2016 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction. Fiona collaborated with writer Mariko Tamaki for her story in “Secret Loves of Geek Girls”, and cartoonist Ron Rege Jr. on Perish Plains Volume 4 for Perish Publishing. Her comics can be found in Resist #1 and 2, edited by Francoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman.

Carol Tyler

Carol Tyler is a cartoonist whose autobiographical stories reflect her struggles and joys as an artist, worker, wife, and mother. In 2016, Tyler received the Cartoonist Studio Prize from the Slate Book Review. The legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb describes her work as having “…the extremely rare quality of genuine, authentic heart. Hers are the only comics that ever brought me to the verge of tears.”

Georgia Webber

Georgia Webber is a cartoonist living in Toronto, where she is the Comics Editor for carte blanche and a freelance comics editor working directly with artists to realize their best work. She is known for Dumb, her autobiographical comics series about living with a vocal disability.

Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring’s cartoons chart a course through some of the most surreal imagery ever seen in any artistic medium, drawing visions from the realms of the subconscious to create a graphic world of dreams. Jim’s work has taken him around the world, from Australia to Alaska to Oslo, and has garnered him numerous awards, including an Artist Trust Gap Award in 2003, a 2008 Artist Trust Fellowship; an Inkpot Award at the 2008 Comic-Con International in San Diego; a Rasmuson Foundation, and most recently, The Stranger named Jim their 2010 Literature Genius.

Gina Wynbrandt

Gina Wynbrandt (b.1990) is an artist from Chicago. Her work has been featured in The Best American Comics and nominated for an Ignatz award. She loves sitcoms, teen pop stars, makeup, the Internet, and being the center of attention. Her first book, Someone Please Have Sex With Me, has been translated into Danish, Spanish, and Norwegian.

Bianca Xunise

Bianca Xunise is an illustrator and cartoonist based out of Chicago. Her work primarily focuses on the plight and daily struggles as identifying as a young black feminist weirdo in modern society. Her story-telling can range from simple relatable slice of life content to complex nuanced narratives like police brutality that have garnered her an Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent. Bianca’s work has been published on diverse platforms such as Hello Giggles, The Nib, Bitch Magazine, The Washington Post and NYLON and has been interviewed on platforms such as The BBC, The Nerdist, and Riot Fest. When she’s not doodling away Bianca is usually somewhere dreaming of the mothman, while listening to The Damned.

Join Us on April 20 for Our Annual Art Auction!

CAKE’s annual art auction fundraiser will be taking place on Friday, April 20 at 826CHI, located at 1276 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. The event takes place from 7:00-10:00 PM, and it will feature live comics readings and a chance to bid on original artwork by some great cartoonists. Admission is $10, or $15 with a drink and a raffle ticket. Please join us!

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. The seventh annual CAKE will take place Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3, 2018, at the Center on Halsted, 3656 North Halsted Avenue in Chicago. For any questions about CAKE, please email

Workshop: Visual Recipes: The Art of Instructional Comics

June 8, 2017

June 11th, 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.

Workshop: Signs of the Times: Abstracting Adaptation

June 8, 2017

June 11th, 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.

Panel: Comics and Resistance

June 8, 2017

June 11th, 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.

What’s a punch card?

June 3, 2017

You can get free stuff at CAKE 2017 just for buying comics! What?!

It’s true! When you get your program from the info booth upon entering, there will be a detachable punch card. When you buy something from an artist, have them write down their name and the price of what you bought. The more stuff you buy, the more free things you get.

$15-25: A show poster and a set of CAKE buttons!

$26-65: A show poster, a set of buttons, and a set of stickers!

$66+: Receive everything, plus a limited edition risograph print by BEN PASSMORE, printed by Perfectly Acceptable Press!

Panel: Fantagraphics 40th Anniversary

June 1, 2017

June 10th, 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.

Panel: Place as Character

June 1, 2017

June 11th, 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.

Workshop: My So-Called Cartoon Life

June 1, 2017

June 10th, 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.