CHICAGO, ILLINOIS During the first weekend of June, Center on Halsted, an LGBT community center located in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood, plays host to the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo ( CAKE ). The free event is open to the public and features workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions, and over 150 carefully curated vendors local and abroad.
Celebrating its eighth year, CAKE is a sweet antidote to over-commercialized, overcrowded comic-cons that focus on mainstream superheroes from the DC or Marvel Universes. Instead of legions of Aquamen and Wonder Women taking over a labyrinthine convention hall, independent artists and publishers populate rows of decorated tables lining a sunny, open gymnasium. Aisles are filled with showgoers of all ages and identities eager to meet and support their favorite artists and snatch up comics, prints, stickers and more. In 2018 CAKE organizers and volunteers welcomed over 3,000 attendees during its two days, and anticipate even higher numbers in 2019.
Each year CAKE highlights special guest artists who participate in panels and signings. This year's spec ial guaests include Chicago's own Corinne Halbert, whose Hate Baby comics series bubbles with gothic eroticism akin to the Hammer Horror films of the 1970s, Nicholas Gurewitch, who penned the internationally adored The Perry Bible Fellowship , Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, co-creator of the critically acclaimed queer coming-of-age romance, Laura
Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me , and Eisner Award-winning Brooklynite Michael Kupperman, whose work has been seen everywhere from the New Yorker to Saturday Night Live . Hosting at Center on Halsted is just one testament to CAKE's esteemed reputation as aninclusive, queer-friendly event that boasts a diverse collection of fiercely talented storytellers and illustrators. Longtime CAKE volunteer Anne Sticksel explains CAKE's lasting appeal: "It is one of my favorite events in Chicago. The people organizing the event really care and do a great job making sure things run smoothly. CAKE is a way to meet so many wonderfully talented people and see and buy their work." At a time when many in power seek to silence those who don't fit into a homogenized norm, CAKE is a space where these voices shine.
CAKE runs Saturday, June 1st and Sunday, June 2nd from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. at Center on Halsted ( 3656 N. Halsted Street ). For event updates and exhibitor information, or to learn how to become a volunteer for CAKE, visit www.cakechicago.com or follow @CAKEChicago on Twitter.