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Calling all Boston indie comic fans: A MICE 2017 preview

A preview of October’s MICE convention, a celebration of independent comics and graphic novels, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Whether you’re an aspiring cartoonist or an avid reader of comic books, it seems like there’s no better place to be right now than the Greater Boston region. In August, there was Boston Comic Con. In September, there was LadiesCon. Now that it’s October, the Beantown comics community is gearing up for this year’s Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, or MICE.

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This year’s convention will run from October 21-22 and, as a celebration of independent comics and graphic novels, shine a light on creators and titles you may not see at larger events like BCC. For two days, the halls of Lesley University’s University Hall will be filled with wall-to-wall creativity.

On October 1, I had an opportunity to attend MICE’s first-ever Preview Night at Alley, a community workspace in historic Harvard Square. At this small gathering, MICE exhibitors had a chance to interact with indie comics enthusiasts and tease the work they’ll have on sale and display at the expo.When I asked Dan Mazur, co-director of MICE, who should consider attending this Cambridge convention, he said anybody who is already into indie comics will want to come.

“We really try to set it up and do the programming so that it’ll also appeal to anyone who’s interested in art, storytelling and what’s going on in this medium, as well as new trends in comics,” Mazur said.

At MICE Preview Night, a handful of exhibitors walked the audience through slides of their work. Cartoonist Ansis Purins, for example, showed how he lets multiple editors mark up his work before he’s finished to ensure he’s putting out the best product he can. Meanwhile, Ezra Rose (in a very detailed presentation) revealed some of the in-depth research she did on Jewish mysticism before starting her latest zine, Six Songs.

Alley, where MICE Preview Night was held.

Listening to very different artists talk about their unique approaches to creating was fascinating–and a perfect example as to why events like MICE matter. While the expo’s many exhibitors are available to field questions at their individual tables, many of them also participate in panels on a variety of topics that explore the complexity of modern comics and the craft of comic-making.

At the 2017 edition of MICE (the eighth iteration of this event), Kazu Kibuishi, creator the the young adult Amulet series, Michael DeForge, illustrator of the webcomic Leaving Richard’s Valley, and The Encyclopedia of Early Earth writer-illustrator Isabel Greenberg will be among the expo’s six special guests. And then, there are the many other creators who will be present, including cartoonist and educator Josh Neufeld, who I had an opportunity to interview this past August.

(A full list of special guests and exhibitors is available here.)

So whether you’re looking for some new reading material, want to learn more about making your own comics or just want to observe artists in action in the “Cartoonarium,” consider swinging by MICE, which is family friendly and free.

“And anyone who thinks that comic conventions are just full of weird people in Star Wars costumes should come to this one,” Mazur said. “It’s really about art and fun and beauty.”MICE 2017 – October 21-22

Hours: Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, October 22, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Lesley University’s University Hall at 1815 Massachusetts Avenue in Porter Square, Cambridge

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