Every two years, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival unites hundreds of exhibitors with thousands of visitors. Preceded by four nights of book signings, launch parties and discussion panels, TCAF 2010 descended upon the Toronto Reference Library May 7-9 in order to celebrate comic books as a legitimate form of artistic and literary expression.
Hardly a superhero in sight, the festival floors were packed with alternative comic vendors from around the world. Literally standing behind their word, these artists, authors and publishers were able to share their stories by utilizing the greatest power at their disposal—unabashed geekish enthusiasm.
Most of the participants meticulously crafted their responses, signings and discussions to hook every potential reader. For example, Dash Shaw, author/artist of BodyWorld personalized each book by doodling one-of-a-kind drawings in front covers and colouring specific pages to make them stand out.
Our C&G rep was lucky enough to catch Shaw before his spotlight at The Pilot bar just down Cumberland Street. Dash Shaw, who has visited Toronto as one of his last stops on a North American tour, made it clear that he knew his stuff very well. Shaw studies comics with a keen eye, finding hints of influential artists in his peers’ work and incorporating the best of what he admires into his own.
The spotlight on Dash Shaw and Paul Pope is only one of the many TCAF events that packed an impressive crowd. Each of TCAF’s events boasted an impressive attendance despite wind, rain, or the dreaded snow. This year, TCAF offered many panels studying comic making and its relationship with other arts. From children’s lit to Shakespeare, this year’s festival had it all, including a discussion about the connection between comic books and video games—a panel perfectly suited to the interests of C&G reps and fans.
It was amazing to see such a diverse crowd at this year’s festivities, many of whom had caught international flights in order to make this high-profile comic book event. The Toronto Reference Library quickly filled in the afternoons, milling with people who were related only by a shared love for comics and art. There were plenty of people and publishers present that should be monitored for future greatness. Among the many, a few especially stands out:
- Adam Bourret is a 2009 Xeric grant winner who released his autobiographical graphic novel I’m Crazy. Chronicling Adam’s struggles with sexuality, relationships and obsessive compulsive disorder, this comic is mainly about the little secrets that people tend to collect on a daily basis, not to mention the occasionally haunting hallucinations.
- Ethan Rilly peddled his delightful debut comic Pope Hats which is distributed by Adhouse Books. This comic follows Frances Scarland, a young girl whose boring social life and crappy day job are often interrupted by encounters with literal and figurative demons. But don’t let that fool you, it is way funny.
- Jim Munroe and Shannon Gerrard met with C&G to discuss Sword of my Mouth, their stand-alone follow up to their post-rapture urban adventure, Therefore Repent. Published by IDW, Sword shifts focus to see what life is like in the post-rapture suburbia. Suddenly the best-kept lawn is not such a big prize any longer.
- Joshua Cotter recently launched a new book called Lemons. Lemons is a fascinating excursion into Cotter’s mind. A non-linear book, Lemons is a scan of Cotter’s moleskin scribbles, offering a mix of personal insight and quirky storytelling
- Jason Thompson and Victor Hao presents an awesome mash up of traditional gaming and graphic novels in their new book, King of RPGs. It is definitely a graphic novel to look out for.
- Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie showcased the second part of their Phonogram mini-series from Image Comics. Called The Singles Club, this urban fantasy relates seven interconnected stories hipster Phonomancers—those able to use magic found in Britpop songs.
The aforementioned artists, authors, and publishers are only a few among many who should be watched for on the comic horizon.
The Toronto Comics and Arts Festival is a biannual event sponsored by The Beguiling. Comic fans are strongly advised to check it out. If this is something you may be interested in, be sure to check out the TCAF website. The site contains a comprehensive list of all exhibitors present at this year’s event, and will contain information about future TCAF plans.
The Beguiling: www.thebeguiling.com