This year's MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo) was great! There were tons of vendors and visitors, but at its third show MICE was still local, friendly, unpretentious, and free! Here is a bunch of comics I picked up there: Catalina Rufin's The Summer of Aquarius in the back, next to Allie Kleber's Fruitless. Next row, left to right: Babka Remembers, by Marek Bennett, Eirik the Fed, by Will Clark (Laughing Boy Comics), Heartburn, by Allie Kleber, You're Never More at Home Than When it's Time to Leave, by Matt young, and Oo Pp Qq, Adventures in Substitute Teaching, by Anne Thalheimer. Third row: Free People, by L. Nichols (whom I was lucky enough to sit next to at MICE), Greetings, Brookline: I Am In You! by John Hilliard (a collection of his comics from The Brookline Tab), Zombre, by Ansis A. Purins (this comic was a big hit with my little boys of 8 and 6), Flocks, by L. Nichols, and Monarch Monkey, by Doug De Rocher. In the front: All Rumors Are True, by Laurel Lynn Leake, and the second issue of Inky Stories, by Dave Marshall. The books that didn't make it to this picture are: Nicaragua Comics Travel Journal, by Marek Bennett, and Comics as Poetry, edited by Franklin Einspruch, who also did the vibrant cover illustration and has a poem (as a comic) in there as well: "What Killed The Flowers."
Above (top): a page from Allie Kleber's Heartburn. I really like her distinct line work! And check out Ansis A. Purins' front cover from Zombre. Pure awesomeness, or what?!
Dave Marshall, here with a spread from "Six-Year-Old Horsethief!" is a pro both when it comes to drawing comics and to teaching the art of drawing comics. He teaches a class at MassArt, The Art of the Comic Book. Outside of class, he often generously shares his knowledge of inking, lettering, etc., so we're happy he is still in our group (BCR) and not off somewhere signing autographs at bigger conventions.
Doug De Rocher impressed everyone when he joined the BCR (around the same time that I did) and brought along his comics boards, created with cut paper. Monarch Monkey is a collection of his stories, and this one is from the upcoming anthology from Ninth Art Press (more info on that later).
Can you imagine a better gift idea for people who love comics, or who just have a sense of humor than these magnetic comics by Erik Heumiller? Below: three panels of whiteboard comes in a wooden frame with a stand, a marker and a wipe, plus a small bag of magnet people (right) to put in your panels. And voila! You bring the characters to life with your own word bubbles, wipe out the panels as you get new ideas, and have your friends play around with it too!
Left: characters from Charles Schneeflock Snow's new series, Oscar's Kitchen. I really loved his Sordid City Blues comics about a group of friends in Boston (sort of a romantic comedy from a male perspective), so I am looking forward to reading this one. As far as I can tell, it involves Satan and the restaurant business, so it sounds interesting!
The most powerful comic I encountered at MICE this year was L. Nichol's Flocks. Nichols sat at the table next to me, and I found her comics fascinating with their beautifully printed covers and intriguing mixed media technique. When I picked up Flocks, I expected it to be something good, but I did not expect that just from leafing through the pages, the story would throw me a punch in the stomach. This copy of Flocks, with the under title "A Paradox of Faith" is the first chapter of what Nichols intends to be a full graphic novel, and takes us into the world of a girl who realizes that rather than being a part of the "we" of her surrounding community in fact belongs into the category of "those others" who only seem to be defined in degrading, ridiculed and shameful terms.
Here are some shots of Tofusqirrel's table, which of course caught my eye immediately, because of all the vibrant colors and intricate designs displayed there. I bought a button with a purple Boston terrier for my messenger bag, but could easily have spent more money at her table, it felt like a candy store and I felt like a little kid!
Finally, I picked up Anatomy for Artists (by Anthony Aspesos, illustrated by Karl Stevens) at Karl Steven's table. I needed one for the tutoring classes I am giving to kids, but I can't use the old (originally published 1896) anatomy for artists-book that I picked up in the Brookline Booksmith's used book cellar a while ago. I bought it because I liked the old black & white photos of chubby women with a silent-movie sort of look, but that was before I started reading the text. In the chapter on facial proportions, I realized that this was a book that operated with other theories and terms than we would expect to find in such a book today (it assumes theories of "highly civilized races" and that sort of racist nonsense, I wouldn't be surprised if this were the book Hitler used as a young art student). But Karl Stevens promises that there will be none of that in his book, thankfully! :-)
Of course, I have left out a bunch of awesome people whose tables I didn't get around to this year, or who I didn't buy a comic from this time. A lot of the BCR people were there of course, with their awesome stuff. I would list names, but then I would accidentally leave one or two people out, and so I'd rather not mention any. All the people who arranged the Expo and helped out at it (I regret to admit that I was not one of them this year) did a fantastic job and I am very thankful and impressed by their efforts.
One last thing: Hellbound III is out! I can't wait to buy a copy and read it!