Before I get into my recap of the event, I just wanna say that TCAF was a blast.
No, for real. I've done other conventions before - and I've been going as a visitor to TCAF for years - but this was the first time that I'd tabled there as an exhibitor, and I've got to say it was by far the best convention experience I've ever had. I'm honestly a lil' bit shocked by how much I enjoyed it.
For those of ya'll who don't know, TCAF is the Toronto Comics Art Festival, held yearly at the Toronto Reference Library. TCAF has always been one of my favourite festivals to go to, and one of the big reasons for this is that it's held in a public space that's free for the public to attend.
Convention passes/tickets are normally pretty expensive, and they're getting more expensive as the years go by. If you're a kid with $20 in your pocket, someone who has bills to pay, or a casual fan who doesn't really know if they like comics or not (and therefor, not worth the ticket price), this has the unfortunate side-effect of cutting you out of the event. It kind of makes access to comics this exclusive thing, when comics - as a medium - should be available to all. For those that do get into the event, this means they have less money in the pocket to spend. It hurts both the exhibitors and fans. So this is a big reason why I like TCAF: because they've managed to avoid this problem by holding the festival in an accessible, free space.
The second reason why I've always loved TCAF is because of the range of subject matter within the comics being sold, and the items that are available for purchase. I wouldn't call TCAF niche, but the comics there showcase a wonderful diversity in narratives that you don't always see in mainstream media. I think that's super important. So these were the reasons why I liked going to TCAF as a visitor, and it turned out to be a big reason why I liked going to TCAF as an exhibitor as well.
Look! Look! It's me! You get to see the ever-illusive Shi with her glasses on. What a combo.
Anyways, TCAF was amazing on multiple levels. They had their exhibitors, as always, but there was also a whole slate of programming that had to be expanded into multiple buildings: Word Balloon, portfolio reviews, professional talks, and the ever-expanding and ever-amazing Comics Vs. Games section, which included a bunch of local developers.
I didn't pick up too much this year in terms of loot, but I got a mini Godzilla print from Feifei Ruan, the first issue of 1001 by Sanya Anwar (whose linework is incredible) and a hobbit zine by Max and Melissa (some very, very nice folks from Chicago whose sense of humour I greatly appreciate).
Some other things, sort of related to TCAF (but not all):
- I'm gonna take a break from conventions for a year, just so I can work on some longer (and more in-depth) projects. I may do a smaller convention in the winter, but cons take up a lot of time, and at the moment I need that time to refocus my energy elsewhere. So I won't be back at TCAF next year, but I'm definitely gonna try to return in the future!
- I've got a few more big announcements on the horizon, unrelated to conventions. I'll be talking about those soonish.
That's all for now. And happy summer folks! Or early summer, depending on how far north you are. It's pretty warm out.