Pictured above: MICE Comics Expo in the Before Times. (©Greg Cook 2019)
After MICE (the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo) was cancelled last year to stem the spread of covid, the free annual comics expo returns with a Mini-MICE outdoor marketplace highlighting 64 Massachusetts creators outdoors at Starlight Square at 84 Bishop Allen Drive in Cambridge’s Central Square on Aug. 28 and 29, from noon to 4:30 p.m. There’s a different exhibitor roster each day. The artists’ creations have ranged from Sponge Bob to independently produced zines (mini comics, as the artists call them) about elves and monsters, adolescent adventures and queer pride. Here are some comics to check out:
Liz Bolduc’s autobiographical comics have spoken about the pain of growing up, a grandmother getting cancer, waitressing, and managing it all.
As Barrington Edwards and Cagen Luse, whose “LunchTime ComiX” is published in DigBoston, have been drawing their own comics, they’ve also been working to support other creators of color, through workshops, meet-ups and, last spring, organizing the first “Boston Comics in Color Festival.” “The comics world, as most of the world, has been white-male-dominated. We grew up on these comics and we loved them, but there was really only one perspective given,” Luse told The Bay State Banner. “We wanted to amplify voices, we wanted to create more artists and storytellers of color in the comic medium.”
Joel Christian Gill has been bringing attention to African American history through his nonfiction comics. “We’ve lost our empathy. We’ve lost our ability to look at somebody else and feel like them,” Gill told me in 2018. “This is my way of sharing bits and pieces of Black humanity so that people look at Black people not as a monolithic whole but as individuals with something to contribute.” In his graphic novel memoir “Fights” he told his own story about facing bullying and racism and sexual abuse while growing up. The New York Times called it one of the “Best Graphic Novels of 2020,” saying, “Gill shows how comics can be a powerful medium for articulating violence without replicating it.”
Dave Ortega’s “Days of Consuelo” recounts his family’s story of three generations of Mexican women navigating the tumultuous years of the revolution and subsequent clashes between the Mexican government and Roman Catholic Church, before immigrating into the United States. Begun as a six-issue series, he’s working to collect the epic story into one graphic novel.
After the covid pandemic broke out, Maria Photinakis began a visual diary documenting her young family’s life.
Ingrid Pierre’s graphic novel “Do Not Resuscitate” tells the story of a woman grieving her fiancé’s death “when he returns from the grave to live with her as a corpse.” Pierre also draws a webcomic about growing up mixed-race in America called “Secret Black Woman.”
Ansis Purins’s new humorous comic “Super Magic Forest” is part Yogi Bear, part “Lord of the Rings,” part magic mushroom hallucination, and part ecological fable. An idiot elf, failing at gathering berries for a grand elf banquet, instead comes upon a handheld video game console accidentally left to litter the woods by humans. This sets off a comic quest to bring the device to a guardian wizard to stem humanity’s corrupting influence on nature and other monsters being let loose upon the world.
Shel Reinertson’s surreal comics contemplate melting down during summer heat (literally) and preparing to go outside again after pandemic isolation.
Catalina Rufin’s autobiographical comics plumb awkward-funny moments of adolescence, sexuality, running cross country, dying your hair. Rufin also draws oddball adventure comics about barbarians, their unacknowledged children, and fairies.
You may have seen Sarah Shaw’s nonfiction comics about doing covid contract tracing and a retired nurse volunteering to administer vaccines in The Boston Globe this spring.
New Yorker cartoonist Karl Stevens’s latest graphic novel “Penny: A Graphic Memoir” looks at life via the philosophical, existential and ironic musings of a cat amidst clueless humans. “She makes the most out of life inside four walls, finding universes of meaning in furniture and philosophizing about the world beyond the window,” The New York Times wrote this spring.
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