Trouble with Comics
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This coming weekend the
2nd Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)
will take place in downtown Toronto. On Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, May 29th, a block
of Markham St. (by Bloor and Bathurst right beside Honest Ed's), will be closed off to
traffic and over 150 cartoonists will be out on the street under tents showing off their
wares. In addition there will be:
- A Kick-off party with DJ Kid Koala spinning and Jim Mahfood drawing to the music.
- A Children's tent sponsored by Scholastic that will feature Jeff Smith, a number of
cartoonists from Owl magazine (a Canadian children's magazine), and workshops for kids on
how to make their own comics.
- Readings by Gary Panter, Tony Millionaire and Genevieve Castree in the Harbourfront
Reading Series (this is a very influential literary series in Toronto that normally
features writers such as Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Umberto Eco).
- Workshops and panels such as the "Smarten Up!" panel where academics from
various Canadian and US. universities will talk about comics.
- Plus lots more!
As you can see, there's really something for everybody and that's part of what's so
special about the event. The organizers have tried very hard to appeal to non-comics
readers and get them out on the street and exposed to the best of what the medium has to
I participated in the first ever TCAF in 2003 (which was much smaller in scope), and I
have to say it was probably the most enjoyable comic festival or convention, that I've
ever been to. Put on by the Beguiling comic store (one of North America's premier comic
shops), the first TCAF was a real celebration of the art form. There was a wide range of
artists from David Mack to Jason Little, but the focus was squarely on independent works.
What I loved about it was that there was a large number of people who attended the
festival who I'd never seen before at any comic event, and everyone was so enthusiastic
about what they saw. For the participants - there was just a great celebratory mood to the
Comics to Look For at TCAF
With all the cartoonists at this year's fest, it'll be easy to overlook some gems, so I
thought I would share some of my picks below: (note that though there are cartoonists from
far and wide at the show, I've decided to just focus on fellow Canucks).
You Were - Diana Tamblyn
Yes, I'll just quickly plug my own work here as I'll be debuting a new mini-comic at the
festival called "There You
Were". It's black and white mini, and is a slice-of-life story about the
relationship between two office co-workers.
Scott Pilgrim 2 - Bryan Lee O'Malley
This probably doesn't need a lot of introduction for people as Scott Pilgrim was a wild success last year. Part 2
makes its debut this weekend though and it's one comic that I'll definitely be picking up.
I'll also try to get my 18-year old sister who'll be helping me out at my table and who's
not really into comics to give it a read.
Violet Miranda, Girl Pirate - Emily Pohl-Weary and Willow Dawson
This is a good old-fashioned pirate adventure
written by the local team of writer Emily Pohl-Weary and illustrator by Willow Dawson.
This is a very fun story, and Willow is a a really talented artist to watch out for. I'm
betting we'll be seeing a lot more of her soon...
I discovered Hope's work online, and she has a
nice one-page story in the free "Comics Festival" book. She has a sharp, simple
style with a great eye for blacks, and I'm hoping she'll have some nice minis for sale.
Corpse - Zach Worton
I had the good fortune of sitting beside Zach Worton at the Beguiling on Free Comic Book
Day, and got to look at his graphic novel: Corpse in some detail. He's
really a terrific cartoonist and he'll have a new Corpse mini out for the show by new
imprint - Candy Coated Press. He also does great sketches of Tintin characters, so be sure
to ask for one from him!
Fiona Smyth - Studio Visit
Fiona Smyth has got to be one of the
most noted Toronto artists. Her work is hard to miss as you'll see it just by walking
around downtown Toronto. She has some gorgeous murals that are real favourites in the city
- especially the one at Sneaky Dee's. Every now and then she does a comic book, and she
also does a monthly strip for Exclaim magazine. What I'm really excited about however, is
that her art studio is right by all the action and she's agreed to open it up to the
public during the festival. This is a great opportunity to get a "behind the
scenes" look at how she works, and I'm going to be sure to check it out...
There's really lots going on, so I really encourage everyone to check out the TCAF website
fully, make up your own want-lists and come on down!
-- Diana Tamblyn
Read ADD's review of Diana Tamblyn's mini-comics