Fantagraphics at CAKE 2017

We’re big fans of CAKE, which is why we’re heading back for the 5th year in a row to the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo. Hosted at the Center on Halsted, this non-profit and volunteer-run organization is putting on a hell of a show. Come party with us June 10th-11th!

Special Guests

Gary Panter

Texas-born illustrator, painter, designer and part-time musician, Gary Panter is a child of the ’50s who blossomed in the full glare of the psychedelic ’60s and, after surviving underground during the ’70s, finally made his mark in the ’80s as head set designer for the successful kid/adult TV show Pee Wee’s Playhouse, a job which brought his jagged art and surreal cartoon ideas into the homes of America and bagged him two Emmy Awards. His notable underground comics works include Jimbo, Adventures in Paradise, Jimbo’s Inferno and Facetasm. His newest book, Songy of Paradise, published by Fantagraphics, is an inspired interpretation of John Milton’s retelling of the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan.

Emil Ferris

Author of the debut best-seller My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris grew up Chicago during the turbulent 1960s, where she still lives, and is consequently a devotee of all things monstrous and horrific. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute.

Ron Regé Jr.

Ronald J. Regé Jr. (born December 5, 1969) is a cartoonist and musician from Plymouth, Massachusetts. Ron currently lives in Los Angeles plays drums in Lavender Diamond

We’re sitting pretty at tables 417 & 418


Anya Davidson





Noah Van Sciver
417 & 418




Simon Hanselmann
417 & 418





Lucy Knisely




Charles Forsman





Conor Stechschulte




Sammy Harkham
103b & 104





Kevin Huizenga
103b & 104


Debut Books

Fog Over Tolbiac Bridge: A Nestor Burma Mystery
by Jacques Tardi








A New Low
by Johnny Ryan







by Andrea Pazienza







My Pretty Vampire
by Katie Skelly







All panels take place on the 3rd floor of the Center on Halsted in the Hoover-Leppen Theatre

Saturday, June 10th

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Jesse Jacobs, Ron Regé, Jr, Lale Westvind, and Marnie Galloway address different subject matter in their books, but their work expresses a similar horror vacui: all fill the entirety of their pages with intricate detail. And although nature may abhor a vacuum, comics is often described as a combination of poetry and graphic design, a definition that would appear to set it in direct opposition to a maximalist aesthetic. This panel discussion, moderated by Galloway, will address what drives these four artists to work in their distinctive styles and how their approaches affect the kinds of stories that they tell. This panel is sponsored by Busy Beaver.

Panter²: Gary and Olive Panter in conversation
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Texas-born cartoonist, illustrator, painter, designer, and musician Gary Panter is a child of the 1950s who blossomed under the grow-lamp glare of the psychedelic ’60s, survived underground during the ’70s, and finally made his mark on mainstream culture in the ’80s as head set designer for the TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse, a job which brought his jagged style and surreal ideas into the homes of America and bagged him two Emmy Awards. Among Panter’s notable comics are Jimbo, Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise, Jimbo’s Inferno, and Facetasm (with Charles Burns). His newest book, Songy of Paradise (Fantagraphics, 2017), is an inspired interpretation of John Milton’s retelling of Satan’s temptation of Jesus. This conversation pairs him with his daughter, artist Olive Panter, for a new take on the work of one of the greatest artists of our time, in comics and out.

Fantagraphics 40th Anniversary Spotlight
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

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).

Sunday, June 11th

Comics is a Way of Thinking
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

In Gabrielle Bell’s and Kevin Huizenga’s work, comics is a site for poetry, autobiography, and fiction, but underlying these subjects is an exploration of the nature of thought, consciousness, existence, and the human condition. Comics is uniquely suited to investigate such issues, with its ability to convey both thought and speech, to represent time via the space of the page, and to graphically portray abstract ideas. Bell and Huizenga have, perhaps more than any other artists working today, exploited this potential. Designer and artist Alex Kostiw will moderate this discussion of how exactly these cartoonists use comics in pursuit of philosophical discovery. This panel is sponsored by CHIRP Radio.

Place as Character
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

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.


All workshops take place on the 2nd Floor of the Center on Halsted in the John Baran Hall

Sunday, June 11th

Signs of the Times: Abstracting Adaptation
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

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.