Toronto Comic Arts Festival!

After hearing a lot of positive raving from friends about TCAF last year, I resolved to make that event my first out-of-country trip in years — and my first trip to Canada, and my first non-local festival, AND the first time meeting people online with whom I’ve been acquainted for years! That time has finally come and gone, more quickly than I could have imagined, but it was amazing.

In a whirlwind of travel, I spent four days in Toronto, taking my first plane ride since I was a baby. Take-off is fun! Turbulence, a bit less so. But via plane, Toronto is but a hop and skip away from Nashville.

…The airport in Detroit sure was huge, though…

After taking a while to rest and adjust to the really nice weekend climate, I finally saw dinosaur bones at ROM! As much as I loved them as a kid, even wanting to be a paleontologist, I never saw any in person before. A passion triggered by Jurassic Park, fulfilled! …21 years later.

The next day, I hit the library to check out the huge pool of talent that would be attending TCAF.

A lot of my friends and acquaintances do comic-related things (because I used to as well — and I’m trying to get back into it, slowly)!* It’s pretty awesome, too. See, I never got into comics very much as a kid, mistaking them all as either cartoon spinoff materials or superhero-related. Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but those are a still-common misconception, that comics = superheroes only. While the huge variety of manga, its varied demographics, styles, and stories, broke the mold for many (myself included), there’s yet more to be found in comics, especially right now, here, in North America. I mean, just look at this list!

So much of what I read is technically “indie” and got its start online. The average person might not know what I was talking about if I mentioned some of my absolute favorite comics off-hand, but an awesome person (who spends an inordinate amount of time on the internet) might. That’s where love compounds for me — I love that now people are getting as passionate about these original comics as they were about Superman, Wolverine, the whole lot of age-old superheroes. I love how there’s starting to be the means now for these creative individuals to strike out on their own, to be able to viably bring their stories to life. And now that people my age are finally out of the “hating manga is cool” late-high-school fad, it’s making a revival among those passionate enough to embrace their insanity and make a living off of it. I love it.

Anyway, about the festival! I attended purely to meet people and hang out, not to mention push my usual bounds of socialization, and so I did! I distributed gifts and free prints and got to meet BL manga legend est em first thing! That in itself was worth going — but I also got sketches from 27 more people in my limited edition Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 journal, made even more special by the artists to whom I look up! Amazing!

Making time to see everyone AND eat to stay alive proved difficult, but I managed to see most of the people I planned to! New pals, longtime friends, people whose work I’ve been reading since before they made a name — all incredible folks gathered in one place. I almost think that two days wasn’t long enough! (Though some people had stuck around for longer.) Nonetheless, it was still overwhelming, when I think about it. That whole trip was a crazy thing to do! Especially if you know me!

A lot of great incidental things happened while I was in Toronto, too. My only regrets are that I didn’t get to spend as much as I wanted on comics (which is probably a good thing, as I have a huge backlog I need to finish already), and that I couldn’t spend more time in Toronto. What I saw of it was convenient to get around, vibrant, and multicultural. I love Nashville, but I wouldn’t mind living in Toronto. Even if it does get really cold.

I ended up coming back with more Canadian money than I wanted (darn loonies and toonies throwing me way off, hiding in my purse…), but that just means I can save it for next time! I’ll have to buy some fancier poutine next time.
I hope to appear at Small Press Expo next year, but making another run to TCAF, if at all possible, in the same year is also a priority!

* I consider myself a writer and a designer first, because these are the things I would fight to do even if I lost all my faculties, but art, drawing, comics, and all forms of storytelling grip and intrigue me. And if I’m going to do something, I want to do it well. People do encourage me and show me paths to achieve what I want. This is why I had to go see people at TCAF, and this is why I love the indie comics community as well.

Designer, artist, author, comic enthusiast, and geek about visual design/video games/Japan/human rights. Among other things!

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