I love going to cons. Really. Oh, sure, I complain about the crowds, the food, the smell, the crowds, and the crummy wifi access — and that’s when I’m well rested. But I also revel in the People. Rejoice in the Art. Glory in the Nerdly Conversation about Story. And make grabby hands at all the pretty BOOKS. To make a gross analogy, comics are my drug of choice, conventions are my street corner, and Christopher Butcher of The Beguiling is one of the best pushers around.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) has been held biennially since 2003, turning into an annual convention last year. This year the convention takes place next weekend and I can’t wait. Yes, I live in California. Yes, the convention is in Toronto. Yes, I had to get my passport renewed and yes, this was a hassle. But this convention is so, SO worth it, because Christopher, Peter Birkemoe, Miles Baker, and their crew of volunteers put on one of the best, if not the best, conventions in North America. Let’s look at why:
- It’s small, so you can meet and talk to the creators, see their books, shake their hands, bring them cookies, whatever. People are happy to see you. It’s like the greatest family reunion in the world.
- There are amazing guests from all over the world: Canada, the United States, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany. The place is just crawling with international talent.
- They have parties that you can go to. That’s right, you! There’s none of this, “You’re not a Creator/Friend of Creator, there is no place for you here” nonsense. You’re invited! And you can bring your friend!
- It’s held in the middle of the TORONTO REFERENCE LIBRARY. For free. Open to the public. At the library. You read that right. The Toronto Public Library system has opened up its flagship branch for the entire weekend to host a comics festival and over 10,000 people attend. How awesome is that?
- They have what might be the coolest promo video ever created for an event like this:
Why am I talking about this here? No, it’s not just to encourage you to attend TCAF, or to try having comics-related events in your library (Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 7th, by the way), or to make you insanely jealous. (Well, maybe a little.) It’s because TCAF has an amazing line-up of programming, events, and guests who write, draw, and speak to kids. GC4K’s own Scott Robins is in charge of the children’s programming at TCAF and he’s done an amazing job. Take a look at the schedule.
I bet you’re jealous now, huh?