By BK Munn
Just in time for the holidays, and the launch of the filthiest book of the season, The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is opening a pop-up shop inside the Toronto Reference Library. TCAF bills the new space as “a boutique showcase” for Canadian and international comics. Sales from the shop are earmarked for TCAF, which is a registered not-for-profit.
To open the new “TCAF Pop-Up Shop,” the book launch for Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Just The Tips has been moved from The Beguiling to the corner of Bloor and Yonge. The combined opening and launch is scheduled for 6pm on Wednesday December 3rd.
It’s not a new idea of course (even my local comics shop is doing it) but it is unique in its use of location in a public institution like a library. While billed as a TCAF shop, the new venture seems really to be an iteration of The Beguiling (let’s call it Beguiling III, after the Beguiling and Little Island), with presumably most of the stock and perhaps even volunteer staff being sourced from the business’s deep resources of awesome comics and comics fans. It’s a great idea, with both the Reference Library and TCAF benefitting from the boost in public awareness (and much-needed cash, in the case of TCAF) a very visible enterprise like this will most likely bring. While it might not make sense to make this particular space/shop permanent, a physical separation of The Beguiling and TCAF ultimately might be a good thing long-term, giving the festival some distance from its foundation in private industry (The Beguiling is a major sponsor of TCAF and its owner and management are the founders and still do a large share of the thankless heavy lifting in terms of the festival’s administration) as well as a possible source of revenue, eliminating possible conflict-of-interest even if some resources continue to be shared.