Hungry Brain

Sometimes when you love a place it creeps up on you. You don’t fall hard and fast right away, and it’s definitely not love at first sight – it was never that pretty. It’s a gradual thing that builds up over nights and then months, until it’s hard to think of the last ten years without it. But you remember your first time.

Hungry Brain is a bar without a sign, but you remember it’s just past Oakley. You’re 19. You like bars. You’re too chicken to get a fake, but your friend works the door and lets you in, accepting the cupcakes you’re carrying with a nod. You asked him to look he other way just this one time because it was your friend’s birthday, just this one time, and he does. He lets you in the second time too, then the third and fourth. “You don’t cause any trouble,” he says in his froggy, rasping voice. “And you bring treats.”

There is no special occasion the fifth time but it feels significant. You drink cheap gin and tonics and look around at a space that resembles a sort of cool older cousin’s basement, if that cousin had a stage and decent beer. It’s comfortable, like a low-key house party where you know enough people to make it familiar but there’s some strangers to keep it interesting. The lighting is low and that makes you confident. There are couches and tables. The tamale guy comes by around 10.


Study Environment

I couldn’t decide if my first college roommate was Mexican or Middle Eastern, and I
needed to figure it out quick because she was standing in front of me, a slim, black-clad
figure with 1-inch buttons dotting her messenger bag strap like a bandolier. My money
was on Mexican and she was, but taller and darker than I expected. Later she would
laugh and say she was mistaken for a different race, sometimes Indian, and I felt slightly
less like a relies-on-physical-stereotypes asshole. I realized I had never seen a photo of
her, even though I had been reading her Livejournal for months.

And then we lived together for a school year in a small dorm overlooking Sheridan
Road, about halfway between the Loyola and Granville Red Line stops. It was a rough
year for both of us, but in some ways we were lucky. There weren’t a lot of girls like us
in Simpson. There weren’t a lot of guys like us either. We had written down “comics”
and “music” as interests on our housing preferences form. We had written down “nerds”
in invisible ink, and the great wheel of roommate matching was ever in our favor.

Comics and cartoons brought us together. We were both kind of gothy (this would fade
somewhat with time, as it often does post-high school), and bonded over a love of
Jhonen Vasquez and Roman Dirge. I lent her Sandman trades, she introduced me to
Invader Zim. We watched a lot of Invader Zim. Other favorites included Clone High and
the occasional anime, all from her laptop screen. We could watch this way because we
bunked the beds almost immediately, craning our necks slightly to laugh at awkward
teen Joan of Arc bumbling in front of equally inept teen Abe Lincoln.

She had a boyfriend. He was tall and quiet and Polish. He was nice. I felt bad when they
broke up, even though his veganism annoyed me and I wasn’t super into his band.
Years later I ran into him on the train, and we had five minutes of mildly excruciating
small talk before fleeing to our tech jobs.

Comics and More from the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo

Here at Miss Spoken we like to highlight stories in all their glorious shapes and sizes, and one of my favorite forms is the pictorial and sequential: I love comic books and have since I was a kid. Zines, graphic novels, and mini-comics, self-published or put out by industry titans: I like it all. A lot.

There have been some pretty awful and sadly typical examples of misogyny called out in the last few years, but I won’t let that ruin comics for me. They continue to be a way for groups outside of the mainstream to express their experiences in creative, funny, and poignant ways — this is the case at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE), a well-curated and awesome local event that happened last weekend. Go next year, support the artists that contributed to it, and expand your storytelling horizons.

(Also…Batman. Come on. Batman.)

Anyway, here’s what I bought at CAKE. Review of Get Over It! (hint: I loved it) and possibly other comics (I will probably love them but haven’t read them yet) coming soon.


Get Over It! by Corinne Mucha


 Foodwise by Tony Breed


Clementine Fox by Leigh Luna