I spent an enjoyable Saturday at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, a.k.a. MICE, last week, and I came away very impressed with the quality of the work on display. This was MICE’s biggest year so far, with three rooms and some corridors of the Lesley College building in Porter Square filled with table after table of hand-crafted comics. For much of the day, the place was packed.
People don’t think of Boston as a comics town, like Portland or Brooklyn, but there’s a lot of talent here, much of it gathered under the aegis of the Boston Comics Roundtable; in addition, a number of the artists had come from New York, Rhode Island and Maine. Here’s a sample of some of the minicomics I picked up.
By far the standout minicomic of the show was The Potter’s Pet, by Braden D. Lamb and Shelli Paroline. The story feels like a traditional folk tale, although I don’t think it is; it’s about a potter in a Moroccan-style marketplace who makes a robot, then keeps re-customizing it to please his customers. The story is well told and the art is professional quality, which is not surprising as Paroline has been doing professional work for some time now, including the art for several of BOOM! Studios’ Muppet Show comics. In The Potter’s Pet, she carries the Moroccan theme through in the panels, which echo the shapes of Islamic architecture. I would say it’s the best $5 I spent at the show, but the book sold out before I could get a copy and I had to borrow it from a friend. I hope they make more.
One of the reasons I go to comic cons is to wander the Artists Alley in search of good comics I never heard of before. I came back from Boston Comic Con with a big stack of postcards, print comics, and jotted notes, so the three comics here are just the beginning of the deluge.
Boots and Pup has been around for a while, but creator John Y. told me that he was moving to a six-day-a-week schedule this week. That’s a brave statement, because the comic has been on hiatus since 2007, but John tells me he has a two-month buffer already in place. The comic is colorful, simply drawn, and kid-friendly yet witty enough for older readers to appreciate.
At the Agreeable Comics table, Kevin Church was pushing Lydia, which is a spinoff of another webcomic, The Rack. “You can read it on its own,” he said, and indeed, I read the print comic on the way home from the con and found myself laughing out loud. It’s workplace humor with a wry twist, illustrated by Max Riffner in a nice, expressive yet simple style in black and white.
Finally, I stopped off at Jason Viola’s table to tell him how much I liked his comic Herman the Manatee, in which Herman, a manatee, bumps his head on a boat in every single episode. (In the second series, Herman does move on to other things.) Jason gave me a carefully crafted minicomic of another story, Who Is Amy Amoeba? (language NSFW), the story of an amoeba who can’t stop dividing, and suffers multiple identity crises because of it. It’s a very clever idea, well executed and simply drawn, and well worth a visit, as are all of Jason’s comics.