This was my third trip to Toronto for TCAF – a slightly truncated but massively enjoyable visit this time round. Like most convention reports I write now, it’s get checked in, go to the con and sell for two days. Took some quick photos and then all too soon it’s time for home. So if this tails off, sorry in advance!
I was staying in the Marriot, the con hotel and this made for a more relaxed experience as the Toronto Reference Library was only about five minutes away. Previous visits have involved a lot of walking to and fro, and a sense of slight detachment. I arrived on the Thursday and after checking in went to the Pilot for a launch/ talk introducing some of the European guests who were being published by SelfMadeHero – I had the chance to meet David B, Frederik Peeters, Ulli Lust and Judith Vanistendael. I also got to talk to Glynn Dillon about Chelsea, one of the few comickers who I have football conversations with. Then it was back to the Hotel for a nice sleep.
Next day was spent in the library doing some research and using the wifi to update some projects and generally just laze around. It’s an amazing library and hanging around and working in a library space is something I rarely get the opportunity to enjoy, so it was cool. On previous trips to Toronto I wandered great distances to see as much as possible so, again a nice and easy pace this time ahead of the main show was quite welcome.
I watched the busy TCAF crew begin to set up. I spotted Art Speigleman and Françoise Mouly as I was leaving. I love this – the moment when the realisation kicks in that for a few days I’m in a comics village and bump into all sorts of cartoonists.
Back to the hotel room. The nice spacious room. Changed and then time to head out for the opening launch ceremony. Introduced by TCAF and the Beguiling‘s Chris Butcher this is the tenth year of TCAF. It was interesting to hear about the history of the festival. Then there was Comic Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon talking to the Hernandez brothers. I was sat with Clark, Mark and Adam, who are not the Hernandez brothers. It was a good conversation. Gilbert was the chattier of the brothers, which is fine by me as I enjoy his work. It was really fascinating to hear them talk about how they saw their thirty-odd year career – they are still young enough to have at least another twenty, I hope. Yet they are considered old in comic terms, clearly a nonsense idea. Also an interesting theme was how they related to younger cartoonists, a theme that surfaced a lot over the weekend. Later on I spoke to Adam about what he had been doing, and the struggle to get more work out every year. To generate published material. It really highlights what an amazing achievement it is that the Hernandez brothers have produced such a large body of work across the years.
Later I returned to the library and to my relief my comic box had arrived safely. I set myself up and felt the thrill that I was in Toronto at TCAF. Looking forward to the gig.
Saturday: it was a mad, busy day. I was situated on the second floor, and apart from a brief dash for coffee, I was there pretty much all day. The crowds seemed busier than last year. My table buddies this year were Maris Wicks and Joe Quinones, who were excellent company throughout the weekend. I got chance to say hello to all of the UK folks present, also Annie Koyama who is such an amazingly friendly/generous person. It was Oli East‘s birthday, so I gave him a couple of my comics. The day progressed, people brought comics off me and some people remembered me from previous TCAF trips, which was nice. It was an excellent day. The evening I spent with Jason Turner, who rescued me from being billy no – mates. Jason is excellent company, and I finished the evening in the Pilot with Box Brown. Nice night upstairs, avoiding the rain and Jocks.
Happily on Sunday I was not hungover, and made my way back to the library. I got chance to view the festival briefly without people, then it started to fill up. It was Mother’s Day in Canada, and a Sunday, so the day began slowly. But it aoon became busy and I sold more of my comics again. I also spent. Just ran round spending as much as I could. I got to chat to Jordan Shiveley, then Dustin Harbin, and naturally brought off them while I was there. But I wasn’t a punter so had to dash back to my table. I was telling Joe that he should visit Thought Bubble and talk to TB’s Clark, and that I knew Jamie McKelvie was around somewhere. Later they both dropped by and I made the introductions, so I looked more impressive than I actually am!
(all pics by Sean, borrowed from his Flickr)
Then it was time to finish. I was happy, and loved that I had replaced my own comics with some new reads. Again a lovely touch at the end of the show – selling stock to the Beguiling. Nice. I got invited for food but ended up in a Mexican on my own and stuffed my face with veggie Fajitas. Then it was the after party and got chance to hang out with happy, shiny people. Jamie Hernadez was happily drinking with no one bothering him, got say hello to Brendan Leach, who was minus beard, drank beers with Box and Jason, then it was last call.
I dogged the karaoke bar ( 5.30 finish, apparently) and ended up back at the hotel, where I then got dragged off by a gang of rampaging Fantagraphics people, along With Tom Spurgeon – they all helped me buy one last drink ( Thanks, Jen, Jacq and Caitlin) listened to my verbal leakage. Three in the morning and that was it for me.
The next day was my last day, so I went to take in the Taiyo Matsumoto exhibition (excellent) and then mooched around Toronto. Finally, all over, it was time to go home.
It was another great show. I really enjoy TCAF every time, and this year’s was excellent. Thanks to Chris, Peter and Miles and everyone else behind the scenes for organising an excellent celebration of comics. Also thanks to the volunteers for supplying me with coffee (vitally important!). This is an event that if you self publish you should exhibit at, at least once in your life. Just so inspiring.
FPI would like to thank Sean for being kind enough to take time to write up a report on TCAF; you can learn more about Sean’s work via his site and follow him on Twitter; you can see all of his 2013 TCAF pics on his Flickr here.