I probably shouldn’t write this, propriety being what it is and all, but I certainly shouldn’t write it on any sort of TCAF website, so blog update.
I wanna talk about two quick things that I’ve seen come up about TCAF, in an unofficial capcity. That’s anxiety about the event, and ‘cosplay’.
Anxiety: It’s perfectly normal to be nervous and excited about meeting people at an event, any event. Meeting someone whose work means a lot to you can be scary, meeting possibly dozens of those people in a two day period can be overwhelming. And, make no mistake, TCAF will totally be busy. There will be a lot of people. But, and here’s the thing you should remember: Toronto Reference Library is 6 floors (5+ a basement), and has a huge and lovely outdoor area, and could probably acommodate crowds 3 times as big as TCAF comfortably. There are all kinds of spaces in the library which, all through the weekend, remain quiet, and cool, and basically empty except for a few people reading quietly. Seclusion and a place to relax and center yourself is never more than a 60 second walk away when you’re in the library.
And if things get to be just too much? Walk out the front door. There are spaces all around the library that are nice and open. Go and get lunch, go for a walk and get some fresh air, go sit and read some of the comics you’ve bought. Relax. There’s no reason to force yourself to stay in a crowded area if you’re not feeling good about that, and there’s plenty to do off-site. If you get anxious or panicky or need to take a moment, there’s plenty of ways to do just that.
Cosplay: We don’t encourage cosplay at TCAF. It’s a ‘no cosplay’ event. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to be a jerk to anyone else whether they’re in costume or otherwise.
We don’t encourage cosplay for the safety of the cosplayers and the public. To make it as simple as possible, comic book conventions, regular comics events, are a ‘safe space’ for people to express themselves without fear of criticism or rejection. There’s a sort of mutally-agreed-upon pact between attendees, about “letting your freak flag fly” to use an olds expression. TCAF takes place in a public library, with a lot of people who don’t consider TCAF to be a comic convention (including me, including the public, including the thousand people there just to use the computers and check out books). There is no mutually agreed upon pact between attendees of TCAF and the members of the general public at the library that day, other than the general social contract that governs us all in our day to day… and that general social contract doesn’t make a lot of room for dressing as characters from comic books, which means the verbal gloves can come off, to mix a few metaphors there.
I don’t want anyone at all to be hurt by mean words or bad encounters at TCAF, and because we can’t guarantee a ‘safe space’, a non-agression pact by everyone who’s going to be there, it would be flat-out irresponsible of us to get on board with cosplay. But as always, we respect an indvidual’s right to express their identity, and like I said, no one should be a jerk to anyone else whether they’re wearing a costume or otherwise.
So, yeah, that’s the deal. None of this is ‘official tcaf policy’, this is words of wisdom from someone who has been going to comic book events for more than 20 years, and has used his experience to plan and program his own. I want you to have a happy, safe, easy time at TCAF. We make recommendations and not-quite-rules to facilitate that. In the end, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and we’ll be there to deal with the consequences and fall-out from that. But, for the last 10 years or so, there hasn’t been any. :)
All the best,