I’ve been attending TCAF since the fest began but this year was my first as an exhibitor. It was a wildly different experience but one thing hasn’t changed: the fest keeps getting better every year.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend any panels this year, but on Friday, I did manage to make it out to a reception for Japanese TCAF guests, a Spring Fling reading on Markham hosted by Youth in Decline’s Ryan Sands and the grants workshop at Word Balloon Academy.
All well worth attending. For those curious about the grants session, it was packed with insider information about how the Ontario Arts Council operates and what they’re looking for. If there’s one thing I would emphasize from this talk, it would be for cartoonists to apply, apply, apply. Currently, the number of applications the OAC receives from cartoonists is so low, they cannot justify creating an adjudicating panel devoted to comics. So comics applications may be judged by artists with little to no exposure to comics. The more applications they receive, the more incentive they’ll have to bring comics expertise on board. And wouldn’t you rather your work be appraised by people who work in the medium you’re working in?
As for the fest itself, I really appreciated all the little touches TCAF organizers provided: from giving you tablecloths and garbage bags to having volunteers regularly dropping by to see if you needed anything. And I know they didn’t plan it this way, but their Exhibitor lanyards matched my dress, so I was pretty pleased about that.
— Kawai Shen (@kawaishen) May 9, 2015
In addition to making good sales, Jacob has nearly sold out of Unlovely. Tweet at him if you want to know where they’ll be available. Also, shout out to my awesome tabling neighbours, Tyler & Ramón from Clavicle Cocoris and Amanda Lafrenais.
I picked up the above SHIT and PISS from Tyler Landry, my neighbour to the left – yes, the sinister side – a well designed little horror tale about nasty evolutionary experiments.
The one downside to tabling was that I didn’t have enough time as I’d have liked to check out other tables this year. I might have made it out to a quarter of them. If I had to pick one comic that I loved, it was probably GG’s Don’t Leave Me Alone, recommended to me by the delightful februeruri. Do you know GG, she asks. And I was like, what? The Governor General? Girls Generation?
No, she says: I mean GG.
Don’t Leave Me is a short comic that’s both understated and devastating. Looking forward to reading more from them.
So what else was awesome? One of the best parts of TCAF is meeting so many people from afar. I finally met fellow kuš! contributor, the lovely Kara Sievewright, traded with Chicagoan Isabella Rotman, connected with Deb Aoki over our Koyama Press tote bags, and of course ran into old friends.
Other highlights were having an excuse to talk to City Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam who dropped by my table:
@kawaishen It was a treat meeting a talent such as yourself. Thank you for being so generous with your time with us.
— Kristyn Wong-Tam (@kristynwongtam) May 11, 2015
I know I criticize state power a lot in my comics, but what can I say? I have been known to read a little Marcus Aurelius from time to time.
I also ran into a delightful couple/two friends on my way home from the TCAF afterparty. They were looking lost so I gave them directions and walked them partway back to the Marriott. I have to admit, I had no idea who they were although I recognized the woman from earlier in the day; she had stopped by my table and said some very kind and encouraging words. As it turns out, the gentleman was named Boulet. They both seemed so nice, I checked out his work afterward. And it’s amazing! I mean, check this out.
Another thing I love about TCAF is the people watching and the fashion. Of course we all know about Peter Birkemoe’s outfits. Here are my contributions.
Saturday Queer Mixer:
Couldn’t get this photo to turn out. Dark teal Marc Jacobs cotton flare dress with a strapless boned bodice paired with a bitching black Elie Tahari jacket, Doc Martins and biker gloves.
Finally, I want to thank the adorable spice for giving up her weekend to be my volunteer muscle at the table (and hustler of goods! Thank u xo), Aaron for his on-call TCAF advice and long stapler loan, Jesjit at Colour Code Printing for doing such an amazing job with some of my zines and Jacob’s book, everyone who dropped by my table and shared some of their time and kind words with with me (especially the man who dropped off a burrito!) – and of course all the TCAF staff and incredible volunteers for making this event happen. You have my most sincere gratitude.
That’s a wrap. See you next year!