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Last weekend the Graphic Universe crew (Carrol Burrell, Robyn Chapman, and Colleen AF Venable) packed into a car and made a late night trip to Boston. The next morning we joined GU artists Stephanie Yue, Shelli Paroline, and Zack Giallongo to exhibit at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo. MICE is a small 1-day comics convention put on by the Boston Comics Roundtable and the Art Institute of Boston.

To check out a slideshow of the event, visit the Art Institute of Boston flickr. If you look closely you’ll spot Carol, Colleen, Stephanie, Robyn, Zack, and Shelli.

Here are some of my favorite things about MICE.

FREE ADMISSION.
Why aren’t more conventions free? Why should anyone pay admission to go shopping? Sure, there are also panels at conventions, but the exhibition hall is the real draw. Only the initiated will pay to attend a convention, the ones who already know and love comics. It’s refreshing to see a new audience of curious folks.

SIZE.
MICE is a small con in a small space for a small amount of time (one day rather than two). The crowd if friendly, there’s a real sense of community without the bustle and stress of a large show.

LOCATION.
This year MICE was held at Lesley University’s Porter Square campus. The building was part college campus, part mall, part Japanese food court. How could I not love it?  Especially compared to the boring, sterile convention halls and hotel ballrooms where comic conventions are usually held.

PRICE.
The table fee was low, a ticket on the Fung Wah bus even cheaper.

MICE was a fun show, hope to see you there in 2012!

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Hundreds of cartoonists flocked to the annual Small Press Expo last weekend, including Graphic Universe’s Carol Burrell, Colleen Venable, Zack Giallongo, and Shelli Paroline. While attending this usually happy event we received some shattering news: beloved publisher Dylan Williams had passed after battling cancer. Dylan was the driving force behind Sparkplug Comic Books, one the larger and more prolific small-ish press publishing houses.

Dylan’s passing has left the comics community shell-shocked, and our grief is deep. Dylan was well-loved him for his dedication to the medium and his friendly and unpretentious manner. He was one of the good ones, and far, far too young to meet this end.

While Dylan and I weren’t close, I counted him as a friend. The comics community has been a family to me.  Dylan was one of us, one of the gang. Perhaps that is why I’m mourning his death so strongly.

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this.  But I thought I’d say just a few words about Dylan. What I remember, and what made me like him and respect him so much.

Dylan was thoroughly dedicated to his work. Sparkplug put out a large catalog of titles despite having such a small staff (most of that staff was Dylan himself). He was a work horse.

Dylan really cared about his creators, and went the extra mile to promote the work they made. Sometimes that extra mile took him all the way to Sweden, where he introduced a whole new audience to American indy comics.

Dylan published work that was smart, different, and sometimes a little weird. his books were distinctive. He helped an immature medium grow up a little.

It’s no mistake that Dylan’s publishing house is called Sparkplug Comic Books. Dylan didn’t embrace “graphic novels” as a force to legitimize comics. He loved this medium, and knew it was legitimate already.

Dylan was vegan, which means something to me. Veg for life, D.

Dylan was a cartoonist and a publisher. He ultimate chose to advocate the work of others over his own. This is a very difficult path to follow–I know because I’m on it myself.

Dylan had no ego about him. He always made me feel welcome in the comics community, even though I secretly thought he was too cool for me.

Goodbye Dylan. I hope you had an inkling of how deeply you were loved, and how much we all miss you.

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