by Brendan Montgomery

TCAF organizers have issued the statement below to rescind their guest invitation to artist Pink Cat after large backlash from the community which we outlined in our last post here. They will be taking the clear action of not welcoming this guest and also pledge to improve their decision making processes. This statement also implies that she was chosen because of one organizer’s preference which seems the part of the process they should improve.

But inviting special guests is always the organizers choice whereas accepting exhibitor applications can be a more structured process as submissions can be reviewed and compared, but invited guests are sought out. A previous organizer’s love of manga and industry connections brought in great creators Junji Ito and Kamome Shirahama who would never have just applied. So hopefully there can just be more group decision making so one organizers choices can be agreed upon by others.

I have requested clarification on their stance on NFTs as the provided statement does not cover it. Otherwise the concerns of the community seem well addressed. But it will take time and likely next year’s guest choices for them to regain the reputation that was damaged by this lack of judgement.

UPDATE: I received a comment from TCAF founder and chair of the board of directors Peter Birkemoe which sheds some light on the NFT issue and is his personal opinion.

Speaking personally as the owner of The Beguiling, It does not support NFTs in any way. The Beguiling deals in physical books and art. As a seller of physical books, the NFT world seemed at first silly, unnecessary and almost uniformly ugly. While I remain no expert, I have over the last year also learned how harmful they are, and how much of a grift the whole thing is from listening to creators both in comics and other fields.

TCAF’s response to this issue was slower than twitter would have liked in part because of the adoption of less hierarchical and more consensus based decision making, but also because NFTs were not part of any of our policy documents or discussions. While I would have hoped this technology would have died the death it seems to deserve before that became necessary, it looks like we will have to come up with a policy on these too. I am not about to hazard a timeline for that but I hope everyone is realistic enough to know it isn’t happening before this year’s festival.

Peter Birkemoe

I would also like to reiterate that it is never appropriate to attack the organizers who do a tremendous job of putting on this show. There is someone who likely made an ignorant decision but I’m sure they are regretful and the organization as a whole has learned from this instance. We must keep our community positive and supportive which is why this guest didn’t fit in well in the first place.

I will still be happily attending and look forward to the great panels, picking up creator’s books and chatting with friends. There is no need to boycott as that will only harm the excellent creators going. I do not have any bad feelings for the organizers as they can learn and improve from this oversight and have good intentions.

TCAF is rescinding its invitation to Pink Cat, also known as Saba Moeel, due to code of conduct violations and the concerns expressed by the comics community.

TCAF initially extended a programming invitation to Moeel on the basis of their daily digital comics work on Instagram, and the personal importance that work had to one of our team members.

At the time of this invitation, the organization was unaware of Moeel’s online conduct, plagiarism, or allegations of tracing. We apologize for programming and promoting this artist.

We made a mistake.

As a promise to our community, we will use this as a learning moment as we move forward as an organization, and will re-examine the checks and balances we currently use to process our programming decisions.

TCAF does not accept money to program featured guests, ever. Those artists are selected along a wide set of criteria. Most featured guests at TCAF are funded to attend our festival through cost sharing between the festival, publishers, or international cultural agencies.

No one in the TCAF organization has financial ties to Moeel.

TCAF is an organization of largely part time staff who work in a collaborative framework.

When an issue of this importance is raised, it takes time for us to come together and discuss the appropriate next steps.

If you want to know who we are, you can see our names on the about page of our website, and we can be reached through our public-facing email accounts, which are also on that page.

Toronto Comic Arts Festival

TCAF Statement Re: Pink Cat (