This weekend, it's MICE

Boston gets its own small-press show this weekend: The fourth annual Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, aka MICE, takes place Saturday and Sunday at Lesley University in Cambridge.

While Boston may not be New York City, or even Portland, Oregon, we do have a pretty good comics presence here, and it's also close enough to other cities that artists can easily make the trip. This year they have a pretty amazing guest list that includes Chris Duffy (editor of SpongeBob Comics and the just-released Fairy Tale Comics), Maris Wicks (Primates), Josh Neufeld (The Influencing Machine, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge), Nick Bertozzi (Lewis & Clark, The Salon), George O'Connor (The Olympians, Journey into Mohawk Country), Mike Cavallaro (Foiled!), Nick Abadzis (Laika, Hugo Tate) and R. Sikoryak (Masterpiece Comics).

The alert reader may note a preponderance of First Second creators on this list, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence. Other exhibitors include Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, the artists for the Adventure Time comics; Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue, creators of the adorable Pet Shop Private Eye children's graphic novels; Jess Fink (We Can Fix It); Ming Doyle, Alison Wilgus, Evan Dahm, and a host of other minicomics and small-comics creators. The show is organized by the Boston Comics Roundtable and the Art Institute of Boston (which is part of Lesley University).

There will also be a full schedule of panels, including how-tos on character design, making minicomics, and avoiding occupational injuries; an "Iron Cartoonist" live drawing event; and discussions of comics and journalism, comics adaptations, and science in comics. Full disclosure: I'll be moderating the young-adult comics panel on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.. Come on down!

The whole show is pretty kid-friendly, as you can see from the list of guests, but Sunday in particular is set aside as Kids Day with special activities for the younger set.

The biggest rap on MICE every year is that it's crowded, but that means it's also rich in things to discover. Admission is free, and the location (Porter Square) is easily accessible by public transit; it's also upstairs from a sort of Japanese mall with plenty of good places to have lunch, from little noodle shops to a pretty nice restaurant. It's a great show and is getting better every year; if you're in the area, it's definitely worth checking out.

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