My name is Christopher Butcher, and I’m the co-founder and festival director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)! As you might know, TCAF is dedicated to celebrating comics and graphic novels and their creators, with a specific focus on all of the great comics that Canadian creators have to offer. I had the pleasure of presiding over our fifth festival last month, and I’m pleased to report it was our most-successful and best-attended yet. Perhaps the best example of this is that TCAF was the number 3 trending topic on Twitter in Canada for much of the Sunday of the show, even beating out Canadian supercrush Justin Beiber. It’s a heartening example of how many people TCAF speaks to, and to their affection for the event.
Rather than send out a big PR, and in keeping with our tradition, on behalf of the staff and executive of TCAF — and whom I thank for their hard work and dedication — I’m sending out the following informal note talking about TCAF 2010 and announcing exciting plans for the future.
Thanks For All Of The Support!
We’d like to thank our partners and presenting sponsors Toronto Public Library for supporting, promoting, and hosting TCAF 2010 at their fantastic flagship location, Toronto Reference Library. By incorporating the gorgeous new Bram & Bluma Appel Salon into the TCAF floorplan we were able to comfortably more-than-double our footprint for 2010, expanding to more than 200 exhibitors and honoured guests, and dozens of comics-related readings and symposiums. The increased space allowed us to easily accommodate a great increase in public attendance — a record high 12,000 TCAF-specific attendees visited the Festival over the weekend (a 10% increase over 2009)! 2010 marks TCAF’s second year of partnership with TPL, and it’s a partnership that reinforces that TCAF is a not-for-profit event. We’ve always maintained that making TCAF free removes a key obstacle – finances – for anyone who might be interested in the comics medium, and TPL continues to be a wonderful partner in that goal.
Of course there’s no Festival without great creators and works to celebrate, and so we’d like to thank all of the wonderful cartoonists, publishers, writers, artists, and other agencies that took the time to exhibit and present at TCAF 2010, it made for a truly diverse and excellent look at the medium of comics, touching on every corner of the medium. Special thanks to featured guests Daniel Clowes, Roger Langridge, Jeff Lemire, Paul Pope, Dash Shaw, James Sturm, Charles Vess and Jim Woodring, all of whom chose to premiere their wonderful new projects with TCAF, and for participating in panels and workshops and presentations and general support.
About The Festival…
TCAF tried a number of new initiatives this year that used Toronto Reference Library in new and unique ways, and we found them to be generally quite successful; our Publisher’s Pavilion was significantly cooler than last year, our Sunday kids area was packed all day, and the new Webcomics Pavilion was busy all weekend! Of particular note were our art installations. The biggest and boldest installation from Toronto art collective Trio Magnus (Clayton Hanmer, Aaron Leighton, and Steve Wilson) was fantastic, featuring a massive installation, live drawing, and a unique and vibrant set-up! Canadian webcomics collective Transmission-X transformed a learning centre into something unique and fun, and the fine folks at indie-lit magazine Broken Pencil and artist group WOWEE ZONK teamed up to create “The Small Press Schooner,” a rotating assemblage of fantastic non- and nominally-narrative artists, producing unique visual works over the course of the weekend. It was a great space with a great vibe and Chris Kuzma, Patrick Kyle, and Ginette LaPalme deserve big thanks for their hard work making it look so good.
At TCAF we’ve definitely strived to integrate ourselves into the rich fabric of cultural events and exhibitions that happen around Toronto, and a big part of that has been the support of the local and national media that help to draw out comics aficionados and newcomers from all corners. Again this year, the Arts & Life section of the National Post newspaper went above and beyond in their coverage of TCAF, running over a hundred Q&As with TCAF exhibitors and cartoonists in addition to numerous feature articles—the kind of coverage they reserve for massive events like NXNE and The International Festival of Authors. Our 2010 lead media sponsor Eye Weekly ran a cover story and many other pages of coverage on the 2010 festival and guest Daniel Clowes, and cross-town rivals NOW Magazine got in on the act with a cover feature on TCAF-debut graphic novel KENK. We also received fantastic coverage from the CBC, Toronto Star, Torontoist, BlogTO, Publishers Weekly, Quill &Quire, Sequential, The Walrus, Comics Reporter, RGB Filter, Open Books Toronto, plus dozens of blogs, thousands of tweets, and a general increased awareness of what we do and why we do it was the end result. Thank you!
We Couldn’t Have Done It Without…
Finally, we’d like to thank some of the organizations and individuals who worked to make TCAF 2010 such an unprecedented success:
- - Sponsors & Partners Toronto Public Library, Eye Weekly, Owl Magazine, The French Consulate in Toronto, Broken Pencil, The Walrus, HeartsandFlours.ca, and especially The Beguiling Books and Art for their ongoing financial support.
- - Venue partners The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, Toronto Reference Library, The Merril Collection/Lillian H. Smith Library, The Miles Nadal JCC, The Pilot, Clinton’s Tavern, Fuzion Lounge, Tequila Bookworm, and The Cadillac Lounge.
- - TCAF 2010 Poster artist Daniel Clowes, and Drawn & Quarterly’s Tom Devlin for helping us put the poster together.
- - The staff of Toronto Public Library, Toronto Reference Library, and The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon for all of their work, and especially TPL’s Ab Velasco for his tireless efforts to make TCAF a success.
- - Our many programming hosts and moderators including Mark Askwith (SPACE), Robin McConnell (Inkstuds), Gil Roth, Matthew Kumar, Jason Thompson, Bart Beaty, Holly Post, Dan Nadel, Robin Brenner, Kathryn & Stuart Immonen, Jeet Heer, Jose Villarrubia, Jason Azzopardi, Scott Campbell and Graham Annable, Larry Marder, Jim Munroe, Walter Dickinson, MK Reed, Brad Mackay, Eva Volin, Matt Forsythe, and Jaleen Grove.
- - The hosts and staff of The 2010 Doug Wright Awards for throwing a great event Saturday evening.
- - The staff of The Beguiling for working on their weekend off
- - Peggy Burns from Drawn & Quarterly for excellent organization and coordination of guests.
- - Chip Zdarsky for his wonderful maps and expert assistance.
- - George Rohac for his early support!
- - Nadine Lessio for the fantastic new web-presence.
- - The always shrewd advice of Nathalie Atkinson.
- - Finally, and especially, our volunteers. I’m convinced that we have the greatest assemblage of volunteers of any major comics event, and this year’s crew were efficient, helpful, and praised by all of our exhibitors. Thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and support, and we hope to see you back again in 2011.
The BIG News…!
Yes, you read that correctly: TCAF will occur annually for the foreseeable future. Save the Date: the next Toronto Comic Arts Festival is on for May 7 & 8, 2011, at Toronto Reference Library. It is once again Mother’s Day weekend. (Thanks, by the way, to all of the cool Moms who came out for the event on the Sunday.)
Our number one request for years now, from our partners, sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, and staff, has been to make the show a regularly occurring annual event. After our trial year, we feel confident that we can accomplish TCAF to our satisfaction on an annual basis. We’ve looked at what worked, and what didn’t, and we’re ready to take all the necessary actions to make TCAF an annual show, even if that means some change.
A big part of going to an annual event is the recognition that we’d like to make TRL our home for the foreseeable future, that we’d like to offer a space for new exhibitors and artists every year but our physical presence is not going to increase much year-over-year, and that the Festival’s landscape and texture must continue to change every year in order to ensure a fresh and exciting event. We’ve always tried to strike a balance between innovations to improve the show and creating a familiar and welcoming experience for exhibitors and attendees, and that won’t change… But some changes will be made to how the show operates and interacts with the comics community in order to create the best event possible. We ask for the support and understanding of all of our exhibitors and attendees going forward in the years to come, and you can expect further announcements this August. We promise all of you reading this: we are committed to making TCAF 2011 our best comics festival yet, and any and all changes we make will be towards that goal.
On behalf of myself and the entire staff we’d like to thank all everyone who made The 2010 Toronto Comic Arts Festival such a fantastic success. We greatly appreciate your support, promotion, and most-of-all your attendance at all of our Festival events. We’re looking forward to presenting great shows for years to come.
Christopher Butcher, Festival Director & Co-Founder
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival
On behalf of…
Peter Birkemoe, Co-Founder
Miles Baker, Assistant Festival Director
Nathalie Atkinson, Media Coordinator
Rob Broughton, Sean Rogers, and Tory Woollcott, Site Coordinators
Kate Dickson and Gina Gagliano, Programming Coordinators
Scott Robins, Kids Programming Coordinator
Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Volunteer Coordinator
Parrish Kilthei, Tech Coordinator