By Megan Streeter, Class of ‘24
Few things can get me out of bed early on the weekend, but when I heard that Boston University would be hosting the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE), I set multiple alarms. MICE has been bringing comic artists and fans together for 13 years, but this is the convention’s first meeting in person since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as BU’s first time acting as host. Stepping off the T on a chilly Saturday, unneeded pointed me toward an endless stream of students, adults, and parents with children in tow towards the Thurman Center, known as the “cultural hub” of Boston University.
Over two days of operation from October 22-23, MICE artists, writers, and publishers in the independent comics world spoke on panels, and led hands-on workshops on everything from character design and lettering to printing. All sessions were free of charge, making the event economically accessible. One of the panels I attended was titled “(Not-So) Funny Animal Comics.” Tak Toyoshima moderated the panel, which hosted four contemporary comics artists whose works feature “delightful and off-beat animal stories.” The roundtable discussion began with a short history of animal characters in comics, from early 1900s newspaper strips to Art Spiegelman’s 1980 graphic novel Maus, pages of which the McMullen Museum’s American Alternative Comics exhibition currently feature. Then, as the title suggests, the panel discussed both the funny and the not-so-funny, examining animal characters in comics as vehicles both for comedy and social commentary.
MICE’s biggest draw was, arguably, its vendor hall. The hall gives space to hundreds of independent artists with a wide range of styles, subjects, and notoriety. Boston College senior Michal Miller said of her experience at MICE: “As I walked onto the convention floor, I was initially shocked by the number of artists in attendance and even more appalled when the first person I spotted was an author I’d met years earlier (at another convention) in New York City!”
Included in the mix was a storyboard artist from Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, Boston University students displaying their works, and independent artists from all over the east coast. “Every single vendor there was so incredibly passionate about their work, and so much of it was incredibly strange and avant-garde and unique,” said Boston College junior Tommy Chen. The vendors sold not only comics but posters, prints, stickers, pins, even tabletop games of their own devising, and much more.While they have yet to set a date for 2023, you can learn more about MICE on their website and join their newsletter to receive updates. Can’t get enough of indie and alternative comics? Even if you missed MICE, you can still get a healthy dose of indie and alternative comics at the McMullen Museum’s American Alternative Comics exhibition, which will be open for the rest of the semester.