With the end-of-season BEST OF lists already cropping up, NBM’s announcement that a third volume of Lewis Trondheim’s diary comic LITTLE NOTHINGS would be dropping in January reminded me that I never did get around to posting that “best of 2008″ list I’d meant to. I did a short review of the second volume in March of this year–losing myself in Trondheim’s world for a little while was a glorious respite from hectic TCAF planning–and mentioned how fortunate I felt we were to get books like these released with some regularity. A third volume less than a year after the second is a treat.

To prime the pump for the release of the new book, NBM has started running excerpts on their blog at It’s fitting, as I believe these short strips originally ran on Trondheim’s blog en Français much to the consternation of myself and all of Trondheim’s anglophone readers. Actually, checking his blog right now, the current diary strips appear to be from time spent in Quebec! Maybe I’ll try and puzzle through them with my highschool French after all. :)

- Chris

Hey folks! Myself and a few TCAF staffers will be exhibiting at The SpeakEasy Comics Show, a monthly themed exhibition of arts industry professionals, this Thursday November 6th at 7pm, at The Gladstone Hotel. We’re going to be exhibiting the various TCAF posters, as well as the art for them… plus some rarely seen promo art too.

If you’re in the Toronto area, come on out and say hi! Full info below.

- Chris

TCAF @ SpeakEasy’s Annual Comic Book Show

Thursday November 5th, 8pm-Midnight
The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen West
Second Floor Lobby
PWYC/$4 Suggested
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival will be among the exhibitors at SpeakEasy’s Comics Show this week, in advance of the next Festival May 8th and 9th 2010. The SpeakEasy show is an eclectic mix of Toronto comics artists and organizations displaying original comics work. TCAF will be exhibiting (and selling) it’s posters from 2003-2009, and will have a gallery of original poster and promotional art from esteemed artists including Marc Bell, Darwyn Cooke, Evan Dorkin, James Jean, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Seth and more…!
The complete list of exhibitors at the SpeakEasy comics show includes:
Matthew Daley
Ian Daffern, Freelance Blues
DMF Comics & Elsewhere Media, Chris Hatzopoulos & George Todorovski
George Michael Faust
Gibson Quarter
Lamin Martin
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Awesome Marcus Ninja, Joel Buxton & Shane Heron
rutz (a.k.a. Ruth Tait), Talking Pictures
David James
Ben Rivers
Dale Camus
Greg Dunford,
Shane Kirshenblatt Freefall Entertainment
The Joe Shuster AwardsFor more information on SpeakEasy Toronto, including upcoming events, please visit

Canadian cartoonist Troy Little burst onto the scene about 10 years back with his series Chiarscuro, a one-man-band type effort heavily inspired by the self publishing efforts of fellow Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim, creator of Cerebus. While that series did fade away after 7 or 8 issues, it was eventually completed and collected by… IDW of all places. I’ve mentioned it here before, but IDW have quietly been publishing a series of creator owned graphic novels, often in hardcover. They’ve done maybe a half-dozen of them now, with some of the nicest production values in comics… And almost all of them have flown under the radar of most folks I’ve talked to, which is a shame.

IDW was also the home of Little’s next project, a ‘quirky’ graphic novel called Angora Napkin. Not quite for kids but not quite for adults, heavily influenced by the animation of Tex Avery and John K., it was released in the same month as probably 300 other graphic novels (and probably 20 of them were from IDW) and that’s the way it goes sometimes. But now? Now the core concept behind the graphic novel is an animated series.

Actually, it’s a pilot for an animated series that might run on Teletoon, Canada’s answer to The Cartoon Network. Hell, it might eventually run on Cartoon Network too.

IF you check it out, and like it, and vote for it. How? Well first head over to the Teletoon website and view the complete pilot:|/misc/detourPilotProject/pilotProject.php|0.

Then follow the instructions there to vote for Angora Napkin (click the little thumbs-up next to their name)… or any of the other series that catch your fancy of course. Commenting probably couldn’t hurt either. Do this and you can help make the dreams of a small-town Canadian cartoonist a reality!

The Angora Napkin graphic novel is in better comic stores everywhere now, courtesy of Troy Little and IDW.

- Chris


My friend Corey Mintz settled on Shirahama as his almost-tropical destination of choice, for his trip to Japan. It was before my first trip and he got the idea from the Lonely Planet guide who raved about it. Shirahama roughly translates to “white sand”, and that’s what you get: 2km of white beaches on the Pacific Ocean. If you go off-season, which is essentially the 11 months of the year that aren’t August, no one’s there. “It’s like Muskoka after Labour Day” as I would explain to my Canadian friends after returning. I don’t have a clever colloquialism for you if you’re American, apologies.

Before the 2009 trip I saw Corey down and implored him to describe his trip to Japan, from start to finish, so I could steal all of the best parts. Shirahama was one of the best parts. I also learned not to only leave myself an hour to explore Sapporo, but that’s for another post.

So yeah: Shirahama is a resort town, sister-citied with Honalulu in Hawaii. It is 3/4 empty in the off-season. It is beautiful, a truly strange mix of post-war Japanese architecture and Beach Boys / Jan & Dean surf-culture. Oh, and naked outdoor onsens where you sit in a pool of scalding water as the waves crash down right next to you; the Pacific Ocean goes on forever.

I could live in Shirahama.


They greet you at the train station in Hawaiian shirts.


There are empty hotels everywhere.


This is a second-floor onsen, just off the beach looking out to the ocean.


This is the beach.





This was Tuesday night I believe. No one on the beach but us and the locals.






Because we were outside with two brand-new cameras, the setting on all of these photos are a little dark. It was an overcast day, but bright, and really warm. 75-80 degrees or so. You’ll also notice a significant different between Andrew’s photos (above) and mine (the next little batch).


Here’s another view of the onsen-on-the-beach.






In Japan there really are vending machines everywhere, including on the beach.


Kiddie Shower.


A meat little restaurant/ice cream stand, that you had to cross a bridge to get to. And check out that roof…!


You can see it better here, one edge of the beach has a large rocky outcropping that’s rather lovely to walk out onto. Looking at these pictures now, the scale is really weird… it’s actually a huge area and outcropping. Maybe I need a camera with a better depth of field? Next trip.


There were actually three onsen on the beach, this is a little foot-bath with a lovely tranquil garden and not-too-hot water. Customary with all Japanese baths, you had to wash your feet before you could put them in the bath. I mean, you didn’t Have To, there was no one around. But that’s when our morality is tested. Japan operates on the honour system, fella.


Pretty eh?


So this is just a little bit past the foot bath, and this is when our initial stroll on the beach got a bit creepy. It’s about 3 in the afternoon here, and this shop is closed. In fact, the restaurant and ice cream stand was closed too. Everything was closed. Heh.

The next batch of photos will be behind the cut, for folks reading at For folks on feed-readers, this is gonna be a huge post. Sorry!

Keep reading…