With the Toronto Comics Arts Festival just one week away I thought I’d highlight the creators and panels I’m most excited for. This may be some of yours’s first TCAF or you may be a veteran but either way it should be a great time. It is a free to attend show in the Toronto Reference Library June 18 – 19 with some other external events on other days as well. Also if you’d like to buy a copy of Sequential Magazine without paying shipping I’ll bring some for $10ea or 2 for $15. DM me @seqmagazine on twitter to meet up.
Here’s some general tips I’ve learned over the years
- Start with the shopping! Creators only have so many books with them so shopping first thing Saturday gives you the best selection. This more so applies if you have a specific list of creators or books you must have. You can still do a slower browse later to discover more.
- The second floor salon ballroom has a fire code imposed capacity so there is often a line to get in as they count people coming in and out. So do this area early as well
- Save the elevators for those who really need it. That’s just good courtesy but with volunteers moving things around and the large crowd let’s not make it more crowded than necessary. Plus the stairs are a nice spot for a photo and likely just as fast.
- Bring cash! It’s good for sticking to a budget and creators may not take cards though square has made that easy these days it still charges them a fee. So more cash in their pocket is better. Also try to bring some small bills too and not just 20s. Also it’s a library so no ATMs on site probably.
- There are some restaurants nearby for lunch but for something quicker there is a food court in the basement of the shopping mall where the Bay used to be.
- Don’t worry about table numbers if you’re going to walk around the whole show anyway unless you have a particular creator you want to see first. But do look at the floor plan to not miss some of the side areas, this show is fit into a library so they have to work around the shelves for table space.
But before I get into my picks here are the places for more detailed info on the show:
- Main TCAF Website
- TCAF twitter for any live news such as schedule changes
- List of all exhibitors
- List of all panels
- Offsite events in conjunction with the show (I recommend the Drink and Draw)
TCAF’s main attraction is it’s show floor of creators and publishers. With so many it can be overwhelming so here are my personal 15 picks to check out! I will list table numbers and area if the creator shared their location
Adam Ma (249 salon room)
A freelance writer with a deep love of all things fantasy and horror, Adam is the writer co-creator of the superhuman horror comic, Folklore. When he’s not crafting horror, Adam spends his time building D&D adventures for his local game community.
Alaire & Toben Racicot are the creators of the epic fantasy tech comic, Crown & Anchor. Alaire also illustrates Sidesquest. Toben writes Pilgrim’s Dirge and Emulator. Additionally he letters Beastlands, Sidequest, Discordia, Sidekick for Hire, and many more. The duo met in college and have been creating comics since 2014. Toben won best letterer in the 2021 Sequential Magazine Awards!
Allison Danger loves traditional action packed storytelling with an emotional heart at the core. Her works are influenced by pop culture and Allison Danger believes that every story needs a soundtrack. An author by trade, Allison has experience colouring and lettering as well. Writer of Blood & Motor Oil (GN), We Save the World (Limited Series) the upcoming Post War (GN), Allison studied at Wilfrid Laurier University and is a Humber College School of Health Sciences Alumnus, but she also loves toilet humor, animals dressed as humans and all things drenched in chocolate.
Co-creator, artist and writer for Cauldron magazine, Casey is mainly known for his painterly variant comic covers for Image (Department of Truth, Stray Dogs, HAHA, Ice Cream Man), Valiant (Harbinger), Aftershock (I Breathed a Body) and other indie comic work with creators around the GTA, such as TO Comix.
Credible Threat Press is a creator-owned, passion-driven, independent comic book publisher. Focusing on gritty, dark, and poignant works of both fiction and non-fiction, this indie press has slowly been growing its catalog with some of the most promising young comic book artists and writers around today. What sets Credible Threat apart is its unwavering dedication to the creative teams it works with and the desire to help publish works that aim to inspire, critique, as well as entertain, whether they be dystopian political thrillers, tales of political revolt, or fantastical space operas.
Fell Hound (271 salon room)
Fell Hound is an illustrator and writer from Toronto who loves to draw scifi, fantasy, and women with swords! She’s been published in numerous comic anthologies including Project Big Hype, Yule, and Boston Powers. She has also self published her own work, the first being ‘Do You Believe in an Afterlife?’ in 2019 followed by the award winning, critically acclaimed ‘Commander Rao’ in 2020. It has since been picked up by Scout Comics. When not giving herself carpal tunnel, she also enjoys video games, rewatching Arcane, and consuming queer fiction. Commander Rao won Best Comic Book in the 2020 Sequential Magazine Awards!
Group of 7 Comics (201 2nd floor window side)
Group of 7 Comics is the partnership between creators Chris Sanagan and Jason Lapidus and home of the acclaimed historical fiction comic book series, Group of 7 Comics. Filled with tales of daring and danger, Group of 7 Comics was nominated for the Gene Day Award for Self-Published Comics at the 2021 and 2020 Joe Shuster Awards and named one of Canadian Geographic’s favourite books of 2018. Chris Sanagan is the writer of Group of 7 Comics. Non-comic book writing credits include articles for Ontario History, The American Archivist, Spacing Toronto and the Guelph Mercury Tribune. In 2019, Chris was awarded 3rd Place for Favourite Comic Book Writer at the Sequential Magazine Awards. Jason Lapidus is the artist of Group of 7 Comics. Prior to making comics, Jason taught art at the Royal Ontario Museum, and served as a Communication Professor at George Brown College.
Jason Loo (239 salon room)
Jason Loo is a Toronto-based cartoonist. He’s the creator behind Toronto’s own pretty decent superhero The Pitiful Human-Lizard and the co-creator behind the Eisner Award-winning title Afterlift with Chip Zdarsky, as well as The All-Nighter. Other works include Star Wars Adventures, High Republic Adventures (IDW), Razorblades (Image Comics), Stillwater: The Escape (Skybound), and various Marvel projects like X-Men Unlimited.
Jenn Woodall is a cartoonist and illustrator who lives in Toronto. Originally from Brampton, Ontario, she studied fashion design followed by illustration at OCADU. She is a member of Friendship Edition, a Toronto-based arts and comics collective, and works with Silver Sprocket in San Francisco. Her first graphic novel, ‘Space Trash’, is being published by Oni Press in Summer 2022.
Meaghan Carter (228 2nd floor staircase)
Meaghan is a Toronto comic artist with a love for aggressive female leads and urban fantasy. She’s the artist for the graphic novel Girl Haven, and the creator of the Egyptian Mythology webcomic, Godslave. She’s also been featured in the Valor anthology and the Wayward Kindred anthology.
Pegamoose Press is a small press publisher from Charlottetown, PEI. Comprised of seasoned comic book pros Troy Little and Brenda Hickey, Pegamoose Press was created as a place where the two could publish their creator owned graphic novels.
RAMÓN K PÉREZ is a multiple Eisner, Harvey, and Schuster Award-winning and nominated Cartoonist. He is best known for his graphic novel adaptations TALE OF SAND and JANE, along with his current ongoing series STILLWATER. Ramón’s other lauded works include NOVA: RESURRECTION, ALL-NEW HAWKEYE, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: LEARNING TO CRAWL, JOHN CARTER: THE GODS OF MARS, and creator-owned endeavours BUTTERNUTSQUASH and KUKUBURI.Ramón is also the Managing Director of R.A.I.D., the ROYAL ACADEMY of ILLUSTRATION & DESIGN, an artist collective and creative agency. Based in Toronto, ON, Canada, this studio boasts a street-front illustration and sequential art gallery and cafe. He is also the founder of RAID Press, the company’s micro-publishing arm whose mandate is to foster and showcase up-and-coming independent Canadian and international comic creators. Ramón resides in an old 100-year-old converted stable, with a plethora of knick-knacks, plants, and his mysterious roommate Boba Fett (no, for real).
Ryan North is the New York Times-bestselling and Eisner-winning writer whose recent work includes the non-fiction How To Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveller, the semi-fictional graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and the so-far-fictional Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series for Marvel. He’s also twice collaborated with William Shakespeare on choose-your-own-path versions of his plays. He lives in Toronto, where he writes for video games, television, and his long-running webcomic Dinosaur Comics, and he once messed up walking his dog so badly it made the news.
Scott Chantler is the cartoonist of the critically-acclaimed graphic novels BIX and TWO GENERALS, which was nominated for two Eisner Awards, selected for Best American Comics 2012, and voted by CBC’s Canada Reads as one of the 40 best Canadian non-fiction books of all time. His other work includes NORTHWEST PASSAGE (nominated for Eisner and Harvey Awards) and the THREE THIEVES series (winner of the Joe Shuster Award for Best Comic for Kids and currently in development for as a TV animated series). In 2015, he served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor, the first cartoonist to be appointed so by a Canadian university. He lives and works in Stratford, Ontario, Canada where he is hard at work on his next project, the SQUIRE & KNIGHT series of all-ages fantasy adventure graphic novels for First Second.
Sweeney Boo (239 salon room)
Sweeney Boo is a comic artist and illustrator living in Montreal, Canada. When she’s not busy witchy girls and hairless cats, she works with various publishers including BOOM! Studios, Archie Comics, IDW, DC Comics, Marvel, and Image Comics and was the artist on IDW’s collaboration with Marvel Marvel Action: Captain Marvel, written by Sam Maggs. She is also the author and illustrator of graphic novel Eat, & Love Yourself.
TCAF panels are usually great discussions about comic themes or specific creator showcases. They are celebrations or analysis of the comics medium and a good forum to strengthen your knowledge of the medium. Here’s the ones I’m going to try to check out:
Saturday June 18
11:00 AM (IM)Migration in Comics
Uprooting your life and migrating from one place to another isn’t easy whether it’s in the past, present, or future. Mikëal (Bootblack), Rumi Hara (Peanutbutter Sisters), and Marta Chudolinska (Babcia) discuss their different conceptions of immigrant stories and how New York City pervades the psyche of the immigration story whether in fantasy or reality. Come and find out how comics tell and shape stories about migration, its opportunities and struggles.
12:00 PM WHAT to Draw, not HOW to Draw, Workshop Discussion Room
There are a thousand decisions for artists to make on every comics page. But how do you even begin to make them? Crack the code of comics storytelling with acclaimed cartoonist Scott Chantler, who leads a how-to-make-comics workshop focused on content, not drawing ability or art style.
1:00 PM Tillie Walden Spotlight, Hinton Learning Theater
Tillie Walden (Spinning, My Parents Won’t Stop Talking, Clementine) has taken the comics world by storm with her intimate and diverse set of graphic novels. At only 26, Walden has more full-length graphic novels than most creators are able to make in a lifetime. Cleopatria Peterson (New Growth, Old Growth Press) interviews Walden on their expansive works and what drives them to create at this relentless pace.
2:00 PM Liquid Landscapes, Hinton Learning Theater
Liquid Landscapes explores how landscape is an essential part of world creation in comics that affects the action and characters. On this panel, Ben Marra (Disciples), Geneviève Lebleu (Weeding), and Michael Deforge (Birds of Maine, Heaven No Hell) discuss both the practical processes that go into creating and designing these landscapes, but also the surreal! What goes into creating landscapes either real or imaginary? Whether natural or architectural, what are the different considerations creators make when world building in the comics medium? Are there different approaches when working in colour or black and white? Come explore these comic worlds and how they’re created!
Sunday Jun 19
11:00 AM Publishing by the Seat of Your Pants, Workshop Discussion Room
A journey of self-publishing comic books from the humble days of handmade zines to working with print companies on high end hardcover editions, Troy Little and Brenda Hickey (Butterfly House) have worked the spectrum when it comes to self-publishing, often by jumping in and learning as they went. Here they share their experience to inspire and guide other creators looking to go down this path.
11:00 AM SURVIVING 20 YEARS, Hinton Learning Theater
These Canadian creators have carved out a name for themselves in comics over the past two decades, but it wasn’t easy! Join us as Seth (Omnis Temporalis, Clyde Fans, It’s a Good Life, George Sprott), Ramón Pérez (Kukuburi, Stillwater, Tale of Sand, Jane), Ho Che Anderson (King, Godhead, Luke Cage), and Andy Brown (Conundrum Press) discuss the ups and downs of comics spanning the last twenty years. What did they wish they knew when they started? What could they not have expected? How did they pivot, change, and adjust alongside the comics industry, or maybe force it to change through their work? What are the expanding possibilities of diversifying to other media or using various social media streams to create and promote comics?
1:00 PM Adventuretime (Not the Show), Hinton Learning Theater
Come grab your friends to talk about adventure! From escaping rolling boulders to swashbuckling on the high seas, there are a million different configurations of action set pieces and adventure storytelling. Join an incredible line up of creators, Terry Dodson (AdventureMan), Jim Zub (Dungeons & Dragons, Wayward), Sweeney Boo (Over My Dead Body, Marvel Action), and Henry Brajas (Helm Greycastle), as they discuss how comics make the best action and how to make the best action in comics.
2:00 PM Nordic Bridges Learning Centre 1
Nordic culture is rich in storytelling traditions, and they have the comic books to prove it! Join Swedish researcher, journalist and author Fredrik Strömberg (Swedish Comics History, Black Images in the Comics, The Comics Go to Hell, Jewish Images in the Comics and Comic Art Propaganda) in conversation with Anneli Furmark (Walk Me to the Corner) Amanda Vähämäki (Souvlaki Circus; The Bun Field), and Tatiana Goldberg (Kijara: Overløber). Join these talented creators as they discuss the unique culture of comics in their respective countries, and how their own work fits inside the landscape of Nordic comic art.