By Krystal DiFronzo

It was only a few weeks ago but this year’s CAKE already feels miles away. I tabled both days and traffic felt a little slower then previous years (two days of Cubs games a block away was a bit of a problem) but it was still one of the richest years in terms of programming and exhibitors. Some highlights included artist Olive Panter’s heartfelt and intimate one on one conversation with her father, cartoonist Gary Panter and Ian McDuffie’s music project Violet Mice taking over Maria’s and closing the weekend off with a tear-jerking cover of U2’s “With Or Without You”.

But on to books! This year was once again packed with many interesting projects that experimented with the new and increasing availability of Risograph printing. Daria Tessler’s new book Accursed, previously previewed in our column, expands what is possible with this printing process. Perfectly Acceptable has reproduced Tessler’s embroideries in remarkable vibrancy and the grainy quaility of the riso is a perfect translation of her soft graphite drawings. It even has tiny bells in the binding, a detail I can’t get over.

Another pick is How To Tame a Lion by San Diego-based cartoonist Laurie Piña. Piña is proving more and more to be a writer’s cartoonist with each project she puts out. How To Tame a Lion is an existential poem about the relationship between the lion and the tamer and how it’s unclear who is in control exactly.

The last two treats were surprises from Chicago artist Emily Schulert. The first is a small zine I believe titled I Saw A Waking Sign At Night It Opened In My Mind. It’s a series of brief images and collages on themes of drifting dreams and memories in collaborated with artist Audrey Fisch. The binding includes a long wick that can be used as a lighter as well! The other book is one of those two-for-one flipped zines, it’s titled Our Earth Mother / The Bad Bloody Father. Schulert uses this format to explore the destruction caused by a patriarchal energy versus the healing and nurturing force of a matriarchal energy. It’s earnest and to the point and Schulert does really great work with the traditional comic grid.