BU News Service
CAMBRIDGE – A Cambridge artist sharing stories about struggles with their mental health. Young comic lovers excited to explore their interests. Another Cambridge native committed to bringing comics to the Cambridge community. These were just some of the city’s residents at last weekend’s Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo.
Also known as MICE, the event has been held in Cambridge since 2010 and has grown rapidly according to expo co-founder and Cambridge native Dan Mazur. With over 200 exhibits this year – on Oct. 20 and 21 – and at least 300 visitors, the halls of the event held at Lesley’s University Hall were filled shoulder to shoulder with comic fans and creators.
Unlike most comic shows that are are filled with a lot of commerce and memorabilia, MICE is all about the interaction between artists, readers, and potential readers.
According to Dan Mazur, the organizers of MICE work to “recreate the best experiences of shows we’ve been at.”
All Ages Workshopping Away
The tables in the Lesley room on the lowest level of University Hall filled with families to participate in Rosemary Mosco and Jon Chad’s child-friendly ‘Making Comics’ workshop on Oct. 21. The workshop took participants through every step of the comic making process from coming up with a story to bringing the characters to life.
“We’re here because of him,” said Cambridge resident Sylvia Barnes while watching her 9-year-old grandson Kyi work on his sketch. A huge fan of reading and creating comics, Kyi raised his hand frequently throughout the workshop to discuss his ideas and drawings with the rest of the group.
“I’m good at drawing,” he said. “One time I drew someone so good it looked like the Mona Lisa.”
At another table, sisters Rachel Kurtz, 9, and Elizabeth Kurtz, 12, along with their mom, Sarah Das, were drawing their depictions of Godzilla and King Kong on the Eiffel Tower. They were next to Elizabeth Naylor and her daughter, Grace Naylor, 11.
“All three girls love comics, reading them and drawing their own,” said Das while erasing bits out of her own Godzilla drawing.
Mosco, who said most of the presentations about her comics are for adults, said the workshop was “so fun. I’m always totally impressed by the kids and their ideas.” After the workshop, she had a chance to meet Rachel, a fan of her work.
What is the Future of Comic Making?
“The most popular area is young adult graphic novels, which bodes well for developing a new generation of readers,” Mazur explained, “and new genres are definitely emerging.”
Mosco said she thinks science and art “really enhance each other.”
In her webcomic “Bird and Moon,” she uses her science background to make comics about nature and science.
Her favorite subject to draw?
“People are really nervous about them,” she said, noting she believes readers may be able to become more comfortable with the idea of snakes — and learn how to be safe around them, if she can “draw them as cute and smiling, or interesting.”
As for the future directions of comics, Mosco finds sharing her work on social media platforms is a “natural fit.” She only recently got into Instagram but believes that its a great platform for getting people to “relate to animals through comics.”
“There are more graphic novels now than ever before,” said Jen Epervary, a Cambridge-based artist, creates comics primarily around mental health. They believe more artists can join the comic-making community due to how accessible and easy creating comics has become.
“It used to be ‘Oh, I’m going to go to Barnes & Noble and buy this graphic novel.’ Now you can just make your own comics at Staples,” said Epervary, picking up one of the comics on their table.
Longtime graphic novel fan, Lindsey Anderson, comes from East Boston to Cambridge for MICE every year and said “the future is bright” for comics.
“There’s more inclusivity than ever before,” Anderson said.
This year she picked up a copy of a comic titled “A Non-Binary Struggle.”
Another attendee, Lauren Moquin, came from Allston and is fairly new to the world of graphic novels. She agreed with Anderson on the inclusivity for both comic creators and audiences, adding, “there’s a lot more women here than I was expecting.”
An area art teacher is also a fan of comics for more than the drawings.
“It’s a great opportunity to help foreign language learners” Rachel Maguire said about comics.
The Silverlake High School art teacher and workshop assistant at MICE said she thinks comics are a great learning tool for those whose first language isn’t English and for special education students.
Kyi Barnes, 9, said he thinks comics will evolve just like all other media.
“Every comic paper will be digital,” he said.
He quickly grabbed a piece of paper and a green marker. He drew a picture of a rectangle, then a smaller rectangle inside and a small circle at the bottom. He picked up his sketch, and pointed to the tablet at center of the page.