CAKE 2013 Report

Last weekend I found myself in Chicago once again for this year’s Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE). Despite the fact that my actual hometown further downstate, I tend to think of Chicago as my homebase, having lived there for six years following high school. My journey to CAKE therefore was something of a homecoming, and it was incredibly nice to see old friends while I was there.

This year, CAKE changed their venue to the Center on Halstead – an LGBTQ community center and event space, where I’d never been before. The actual space where the convention was held was a gym, which was very spacious and had windows around the top to let in some natural light (always a big plus at any convention).

The venue also had a very impressive outdoor patio adjacent to the convention hall that had beautiful views of the city.

My absolute favorite aspect of this venue, however, was the location! The Center on Halstead is conveniently located right by the Addison stop on the Red Line, and is right across the street from TWO banks – which came in handy for many exhibitors and visitors. The best part, though, was that we were right above a Whole Foods. I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve been to where I subsisted off of whatever horrible gas station “food” I could get my hands on all weekend. It was amazing to be able to run downstairs and get fancy pasta salads and coffee drinks. The real food + natural light combo really helped me feel ten times more sane than I normally do while tabling at conventions.

I would certainly say the show was a success, having broken my all-time sales record over the weekend thanks to the many festival goers who were genuinely excited about press press comics! I’d brought a modest number of anthologies with me, hoping to sell out by the end of the show, but unexpectedly ended up selling out of a few of my minicomics as well. That was very exciting. Next time I’ll bring more!

I actually managed to get out from behind my table a couple of times this show, and picked up a few things from other exhibitors. I grabbed a copy of Will Dinski‘s modestly priced Alarm Clock, a full-color collection of a few short stories and some sketchbook pages with a cover that is just awesome. I also picked up a copy of Noah Van Sciver‘s latest issue of Blammo (#8!), which was fantastic, as always. I got a look at Tom McHenry‘s newspaper project, The Proof. Have you guys checked this out yet? It’s a newspaper featuring comics and drawings and prose and photos; it’s free, and somehow they’re also paying contributors (only $8, but still, that’s eight whole more dollars than nothing). That’s crazy, right? I mean, how does this work? I have no idea, but it seems like a thing worth supporting. Go throw money at them and help them bump up their contributor compensation to $9. Or submit your work, and go buy yourself a sandwich. 

CAKE is a top-notch show, you guys, and based on its success over the past two years, I feel like it’s going to stick around. It will definitely be on my list of shows to do every year that they continue doing it, so I hope they will. This was my last show for the next few months, so I have a little time to recuperate, and prepare myself for SPX in September. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to CAKE and made it great this year, and I hope to see you all again next summer.