CAKE was immensely fun to attend (see our overview here), but it was also a success for many of the exhibitors. We reached out to several creators to hear what they had to say about the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo. Get the scoop straight from the con floor, followed by photos of the crowds, comics, and the creators.
We picked up the mini comic Someone Please Have Sex With Me from Gina Wynbrandt, who was tabling for the second time at CAKE. “I sold a good amount of comics, got an amazing haul of comics to take home, and chatted with a lot of great people, old friends and new. Everyone that makes comes is always so nice and so talented. This year seemed less crowded (maybe because Chris Ware wasn’t here this year), but still had a great turnout. I had a super-duper time.”
Liz Prince, creator of Will You Still Love If I Wet The Bed? was a newcomer to CAKE, but she plans to come back next year. “CAKE was massively successful for me: in addition to there being a steady stream of enthusiastic attendees, there were a lot of great exhibitors. I ended up spending so much of the money I made buying other people’s comics! I can only chalk it up to the precise curating that went into CAKE. My impression was that it was extremely well put together. The organizers did an excellent job of making exhibitors feel welcome and supported. The venue was great: it never got too hot (which sounds like a pretty base comment, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a convention hall that is sweltering), and the fact that we were exhibiting upstairs from a Whole Foods was invaluable. The panel room was big, and the seating was stadium style, which is a big plus, too. And they took a tip from TCAF and offered snacks to the exhibitors as well, which is a little extra bonus which goes a long way. And all of this was done at a show that doesn’t charge a cover for attendees to enter!”
Tasmanian creator Eleri Harris had high praise for the show, but also saw room for improvement. “It was great to see how inclusive the festival was. And the after party on the deck was far and away the best after convention event I have ever attended! Although the programming was limited, what I saw was pretty solid. The dude who hosted the panel with Anya, Liz and Ines* could have done a better job with his interview structure and line of questioning. Especially the comment he made about how ‘they were all women, but that’s not important’. I would like to see more engaged discussion and less Q&A on panels.” *(Eleri was referring to “Evolution of an Artist” moderated by Max Morris, a panel we sadly missed.)
Though she has previously tabled at CAKE, this year Mari Naomi was a guest of publisher 2D Cloud. Since she did not sell directly, Mari shared her thoughts on the other aspects of the show. “On the non-financial front, I can confidently call the show a success. I met a lot of great people–fans of my work, plus people whose work I’m a big fan of–and my pre-CAKE reading at Quimby’s with Mike Dawson and Elisha Lim was awesome. CAKE drew in such a diverse crowd, but with decidedly indie tastes. Everyone was so friendly, and the volunteers were super helpful. There were some pals of mine who weren’t able to get tables, and that bummed me out.”
Finally, we reached out to 2D Cloud; publisher and creator Raighne Hogan claimed it was a success for the vendor. “CAKE is a great show. The organizers have put a lot of thought and care in the curation process — from getting first time exhibitors, established talents, a wider focus on women, POC, LGQBT — it has a lot of similar strengths that you see in zine shows in terms of a broader representation. So that was pretty cool. Very nice mix and a very nice energy. This is our third time exhibiting at CAKE and our best sales for this show. I unfortunately missed the panels this year. They’ve been pretty excellent in years past. Last year had one of my favorite panels (ever) a talk with Julia Gfrörer, Phoebe Gloeckner, and Heather Benjamin whose work I was not familiar with prior.”
Please enjoy the rest of our many, many photos from CAKE.