So it took the better part of 24 hours from the time I woke up Monday morning to get to where I’m staying just outside of Tokyo. As such, you might imagine I was a little exhausted. In reality, I was a lot exhausted… ;) At any rate, so far I’ve done more or less nothing except travel, sleep, and wake up. So, no pictures.

Okay, a couple of pictures to tide you over:

DSCF6817Starbucks in Japan has a new kind of drink, the “Jelly Frappucino”. Basically, it’s a regular frap with coffee-flavoure Jello in the bottom, which breaks up as you suck it through the straw, for an extra hit of coffee flavour. It’s actually pretty good, but it is definitely weird.


This is yours-truly at Narita, about 20 hours after I started the trip. As you can see from my bloodshot eyes, I can really use that intense coffee beverage.

DSCF6820So far I’ve only bought one manga, and honestly only to blog about it, because it’s weird. What you see here for about five bucks is 400 pages of manga about cats. Cat-themed manga stories. By a variety of artists. Includes a special section at the front of full-colour photos of cats doing adorable things. Also, the manga itself is pretty adorable.


DSCF6823Look how adorable that thing is.


I’ve also started drinking. We saw this advertised on the train, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s 8% lemon-flavoured alcohol, to get you hammered more quickly and in a more financially prudent way. In these tough economic times, why not buy the booze that has twice the alcohol content for the same price (148 yen)? Anyway, it tastes a lot like lemons, real lemons and not like lemon-flavoured beverages, but also, when warm, a bit like kerosine. Would Not Buy Again. I love the Kirin cans though…!


It’s sort of a grey, drizzly day. But still: Japan!

Like I said, we just watched some TV with the kids before they went off to kindergarden, so in closing I will share two shots of the show we watched with you.




- Chris

go_fujimoto_bearGo Fujimoto is an absolutely incredible Japanese “bara” or bear illustrator. Big dudes, cute faces, and even his quickly-coloured pencil sketches (as above) look incredible. I’d recommend tracking down as much of his work as you might be able to, he’s really quite talented.

You can find Go Fujimoto online at his blog (Japanese Language Only, sorry!), or at his online store Bear Grand,

- Chris


Today marks the beginning of Gay Pride Week here in Toronto! Sadly because I’m out and about right now, I had to reuse this image, but I’ll try and get some all-new imagery to be proud of all week long…! Yay! This illustration comes courtesy of Maurice Vellekoop, and his book Vellevision.

- Chris

“It’s a little funny that I was asked to share what I’m reading this week, I feel like I’ve read fewer comics in the past few weeks than anytime in the last few years. Y’see, I’m getting ready for a trip to Japan in just a few hours—actually I stopped in the middle of packing to write this—and I feel like all of my time lately has been spent packing, planning, and booking stuff. But, luckily for you reader, I’m not going to bore you with my opinion of the Frommers or Lonely Planet guides to Tokyo. It turns out I have been reading some stuff of interest, and I hope it inspires you to go out and track down some copies for yourself…” – Me, at Robot6

Chris Mautner at the Robot 6 blog asked me to be the guest contributor to this week’s “What Are You Reading?” column, and there I am recommending some very good books. Go check it out…!

- Chris


The fine folks at Japanator have unveiled the screening schedule for the new Evangelion movie, Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, and it looks like unless you live in Canada, you’re more or less out of luck. Luckily, I LIVE IN CANADA. So: yay! I’ll see you September 30th for the screening! The film will also be showing at Comic-Con in July. For the full schedule, visit Japanator.

Evangelion 1.0 is the first of four new movies that reimagines the 26 epsiodes + 6 episodes + 2 films that made up the original Neon Genesis Evangelion storyline. Said to cut out the filler, introduce some lovely new animation, and generally just bilk hardcore fans out of Even More money to feed their awful animation fetish, the films have been very well-received overseas. I imagine the same will happen here.

Hah, I just checked Wikipedia and the second film in the tetrology, Evangelion 2.0: You Will (Not) Advance will be opening in Japan June 27th… While I’m there. It looks like I’ll be able to take even more Evangelion photos while I’m there, and buy even more weird Eva stuff.  Whoo hoo!

- Christopher
Photo: I took a picture of a human-sized Evangelion statue last time I was in Japan. It was pretty awesome.

Hello folks,

I’m Christopher Butcher and I’m the Festival Director and co-founder of TCAF, The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Co-founder Peter Birkemoe, a handful of staff, and dozens of volunteers and I present TCAF every two years in lovely downtown Toronto, Canada. A little over a month ago on May 9-10, 2009, we held our fourth Festival. It was a first at our new home, the Toronto Reference Library, the flagship of the 99-branch Toronto Public Library system (the largest library system in North America). Following tradition, we thought a nice note sent far and wide might be a good way to sum up this year’s Festival, and make a few announcements about the next one.

First and foremost, we think that TCAF 2009 was a great success. Our main goal with TCAF is to create a stage for the comics, art and graphic novels that we love, so they can really shine and find the audience that they deserve. Canada is a country that produces great cartoonists and comics and we’re proud that more than 250 creators, a dozen publishers, and more attendees than ever could participate in this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Despite economic concerns, TCAF 2009 proved that comics are still a boom medium, bursting with creativity, craft, and passion—and people want to come out and be a part of it!

Attendance at TCAF 2009 events more than doubled over our 2007 figures, with 10,500 TCAF-specific attendees visiting Toronto Reference Library across both days (official numbers, at that: from audited data provided by Toronto Public Library’s turnstile powers-that-be), and with over 14,000 attendees visiting TCAF-branded events in total. Feedback from guests, attendees, and partners has been overwhelmingly positive so far. While we did experience some growing pains this year (heat, crowds, traffic-flow) familiarizing ourselves with and settling in to the new
venue, we’re confident that moving forward we’ll be able to rectify these issues.

On that note, we’d like to thank all of the wonderful cartoonists, publishers, artists and writers who came out to exhibit this year. TCAF 2009 featured our largest and most diverse collection of guests to date, and as always these creators and their work are the reason there is a Festival in the first place. Thanks to our honored guests François Ayroles, Anke Feuchtenberger, Emmanuel Guibert, Derek Kirk Kim, Kid Koala/Eric San, Scott McCloud, Tara McPherson, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Paul Pope, Florent Ruppert, Seth, Adrian Tomine, and Craig Yoe. And a very special thanks especially to Mr. and Mrs. Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who overcame medical troubles to attend this Festival: you gave us a truly special event.

We’ve continued to receive amazing support from both Canada’s national and Toronto’s local print and online media, with many of our guests surprised at the level of coverage that we received both as an event, and around specific guests. Of particular note is the superlative support of the Arts & Life section of Canada’s National Post newspaper, who ran over a hundred biographies and Q&As of comics creators attending TCAF, several feature articles and art pages, blog and print wraps and updates — they even live-Twittered several panels. We appreciate their support of comics and their recognition of TCAF’s prominent role in promoting the medium. These efforts, alongside coverage from TCAF Media Sponsor Eye Magazine, newspapers The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and L’Express, online coverage from BoingBoing, Torontoist, BlogTO, NOW, Publishers Weekly, Quill and Quire, Sequential, Walrus, The Comics Reporter, dozens of blogs, thousands of tweets, and the fine folks at Open Books Toronto and WHAZAMO! declaring May GRAPHIC NOVEL MONTH, created unprecedented awareness not only of TCAF, but of the hundreds of publishers and cartoonists at the event. Thank you!

Peter and I would like to thank all of our sponsors and partner organizations, and especially TCAF Presenting Sponsor, Toronto Public Library (TPL). TPL graciously donated the use of the beautiful, airy Toronto Reference Library building to act as our venue for the main exhibition and programming. Holding TCAF at Toronto Reference Library re-enforces the fact that TCAF is completely FREE for the public to attend. We’ve long maintained that making the show free removes the barriers to entry for anyone who might be interested in the medium of comics and graphic novels, and by partnering with an organization that offers free access to a fantastic, comprehensive collection of the best comics literature all year-round, we’ve found a great partner in our goals. TCAF strives to present a broad, accessible, and varied view of comics and it is with the support of TPL and their staff—particularly tireless Director of Communications Ab Velasco—that we were able to reach more people with our message than ever before. Thank you. Thanks also to our sponsors at Harbourfront Centre, Owlkids, Le Consulate General de France a Toronto, the Goethe-Institut, Eye Weekly, The Japan Foundation, Magic Pony, Teletoon Canada, and of course, The Beguiling Books and Art: You supported us with great guests, with great venues, great programming, and so much more.

As the public face of TCAF, I often get a lot of the credit and praise directed at the event (the complaints too!), but there are a number of people who help put this show together that don’t always get the credit they deserve. Foremost amongst those people is Steven Murray (aka Chip Zdarsky), who went above and beyond this year to help us put together weeks and months worth of projects related to the Festival. He is a wonderful artist, writer, designer and friend, and we are sorry for making him uncomfortable with this praise but: We literally could not have done what we did without you.

Thanks also go out to: our 2009 Festival Poster Artist Bryan Lee O’Malley; Emmanuel Guibert for lending us Sardine for our Comics Festival! comic; Professor Andrew Lesk for organizing a fantastic academic program; Jocelyne Allen for superb Japanese translation skills; our many programming hosts and moderators including: Bill Kartalopoulos, Deb Aoki, Bart Beaty, Mark Askwith, Mark D. Nevins, Mark Siegel, Douglas Wolk, Jose Villarrubia, Jason Azzopardi, Stacy E. King, Jim Zubkavich, and Robin McConnell; The hosts and staff of The 2009 Doug Wright Awards for throwing an excellent event Saturday evening; our 2009 Festival Staff including Logistics Coordinators Rob Broughton and Sean Rogers, Kids Programming Coordinators Scott Robins and Naseem Hrab, Volunteer Coordinator Andrew Woodrow-Butcher; Parrish Kilthei for his A/V assistance; the staff of The Beguiling; Kate Dickson from Teletoon Canada; Peggy Burns from Drawn & Quarterly for all of her help coordinating an incredibly busy schedule; and the shrewd advice of Nathalie Atkinson. We had an army of talented, passionate volunteers again this year who helped to ensure that things went as smoothly as they possibly could, and we greatly appreciate their contribution to making the event a success (and that they happily wore the ketchup ‘n’ mustard-coloured TCAF t-shirts). We hope that all of you will come out and be a part of next year’s event.

That’s right, the next Toronto Comic Arts Festival will be held Saturday May 8th and Sunday May 9th, 2010, at Toronto Reference Library. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST. And yes, we know that’s Mother’s Day… All of the cool moms read comics.

What, so soon, you ask? Following up on feedback from our partners, our guests, our staff, and attendees, we’ve decided to build on the incredible momentum of having a new home and incredibly supportive presenting sponsor in Toronto Public Library, and produce our first annual show. This is something of an experiment for us, and I can’t say for sure that we’re “going annual” with the event, but we feel that a 2010 event is the best course of action to ensure that TCAF stays a fun, vital, and prominent festival both within the city of Toronto and in the larger comics community. That’s around the corner so we’ll be running a tight ship, and further details about TCAF 2010 (including exhibitor application & information) will be released later this summer.

Thanks again to everyone who made the 2009 Toronto Comic Arts Festival such a fantastic success. We greatly appreciate your support, your promotion of the festival through great word of mouth and online, and your attendance. We’ll do our best to keep putting together a great show.


Christopher Butcher, Festival Director
Toronto Comic Arts Festival

On behalf of the executive, staff, and volunteers of TCAF


I’ve known about this for a little while (was really trying to have it happen in conjunction with TCAF–no dice) but it slipped my mind that the date was upon us… Junko Mizuno will be in Toronto this week for the opening of her new show at Magic Pony’s Narwhal Gallery! It features ALL NEW paintings and work, inspired by Canadian folklore! Super awesome!

The opening is this Thursday evening, do NOT miss out! Details below, more info at

RED TRESSES AND FRECKLES: Junko Mizuno Solo Exhibition
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 18 from 7-10pm
Artist will be in attendance

Narwhal Art Projects (Near Magic Pony Gallery)
680 Queen St. West, Toronto, ON, Canada

Exhibition Dates: June 18 – July 26, 2009

For more information, including a selected gallery of pieces, please check out

See you there!

- Chris


dscf4166One of the things I really enjoyed about my last trip to Japan was, in the Tezuka Museum, getting to see original art (manuscript) pages by Osamu Tezuka. I feel like I have a new perspective on his work, seeing the paste-downs, white paint, pencil marks, and changes that each page went through before going to print. I feel like I’ve learned something about his process, and maybe I understand his work a little better. Maybe I’m full of shit too, but it’s still a nice feeling. (Image from Tezuka Museum to left, click for larger.

I also got to see originals at the Kyoto International Manga Museum in Kyoto Japan, although surprisingly very few Japanese original pages as the installations that were up while I was there were primarily from other countries. Still, I do like me some original art, and it was pretty great. Unfortunately the Museum’s photo policy was incredibly strict, and so it wasn’t possible to get any photos for the blog. Them’s the breaks…

Perhaps the biggest “score” in terms of diversity of material was Nakano Broadway Mall, which had lots of “auctions” going on for original artwork, with many manga pages and anime cels on display. I actually didn’t see much “finished” work when it came to the manga–lots of sketches and autographed books–but it’s still a bit of a treasure-trove of process work. (Image from Nakano Broadway up-top).

For my upcoming trip (one week! eeee!) I do plan on, if possible, hitting the Tezuka Museum and the Kyoto Manga Museum again, but I’m wondering if there’s anywhere else I can go in Japan (we’re travelling A LOT this time) that I’d have access to Japanese original art? Whether temporary shows/exhibits, or permanent ones. 

If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations, particularly if there’s a website attached so I can parse it out and find the place, I’d really appreciate it! Thanks!

- Christopher