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ComicsAlliance Guide to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2012

This coming weekend the Toronto Reference Library will play host to the seventh Toronto Comic Arts Festival, the fourth since the show went annual. Toronto boasts one of the industry’s most diverse creative communities, and TCAF is the jewel in its crown – a free festival that celebrates amazing cartoonists from across the industry and around the world. Organised by the Toronto Public Library and Toronto’s celebrated comic store The Beguiling, it’s the show that makes this writer fall more in love with comics every year.

This year’s featured guests include Jeff Smith, Kate Beaton, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Bryan Lee O’Malley and Kazu Kibuishi, and new books debuting at the show include work by Alison Bechdel, Guy Delisle, Andrew Hussie and Ryan North. The festival programme includes signings, panels, film screenings, parties, gallery shows and a whole day of special events for children. With so much going on, we’ve put together a helpful guide to some of the most exciting panels across the weekend.


An Evening with Guy Delisle
Location: Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton Street, Toronto ON M5B 2H5
Time: 7:00pm-10:00pm

Guy Delisle, author of autobiographical travelogues Shenzhen, Pyongyang and The Burma Chronicles, presents the debut of his new book Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, and the North American premiere of the documentary about the making of the book, The Guy Delisle Chronicles.

The event includes an interview with Delisle, a Q&A and a signing. Tickets are $5 each and will be available exclusively in-store at The Beguiling (601 Markham Street, Toronto ON M6G 2L7) from Wednesday 4th April. See the event website for more information.


Jeff Smith, Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon in Conversation
Location: Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4W 2G8
Time: 7:00pm-10:00pm

Jeff Smith, the legendary creator of Bone and RASL is joined by Bá and Moon, the rising stars behind Daytripper and Casanova, for a discussion of noir and the fantastic in comics. I fully expect this to be one of the highlights of the weekend, as it brings together three of the most fascinating cartoonists in the business.

Unsurprisingly there are no advance tickets left for this event. Anyone hoping to grab a seat will have to join the rush line at the door. If you miss out, Ba and Moon also have a panel Sunday morning at 11:00am at The Pilot Tavern (22 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5), and Smith will be appearing at the Owlkids Day event on Saturday (see below).


Owlkids Day
Location: St Paul’s Church, 227 Bloor Street East, Toronto ON M4W 1C8
Time: 10:00am-5:00pm

TCAF always has great kids’ creators and great kids’ programming. Following the launch of the Beguiling’s sister store Little Island, the world’s first comic store for kids, TCAF now has a whole day of special kids’ programming at St Paul’s Church, just around the corner from the Reference Library.

Highlights of the day include presentations, signings and sketches by Babymouse creators Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm (11:00am), Bone creator Jeff Smith (1:00pm) and Amulet creator Kazu Kibuishi (2:30pm).

TCAF also has its usual slate of kids’ workshops, readings, drawing jams and games at the Toronto Reference Library on Saturday and Sunday, including appearances by Dave Roman, J Torres, Frank Cammuso, CTON, and the Explorer: The Mystery Boxes crew. Check out the website for more information.

The Comics Checklist
Location: Ristorante Fortuna, 12 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5
Time: 10:00am-11:00am

In another first for the show TCAF is running a full weekend of workshops for aspiring and professional creators this year, kicking off with strategic tips for embarking on new comics projects courtesy of cartoonist Matt Madden, author of 99 Ways to Tell A Story and Mastering Comics. The weekend also includes workshops on kids’ comics, teen comics, writing comics, pitching comics, and animation, plus an inking masterclass with Jeff Smith. Workshops are free, but spaces are limited to 50 per session. Again, see the website for more information.

My Friend Dahmer
Location: Marriott Bloor Yorkville, 90 Bloor Street East, Toronto ON M4W 1A7
Time: 11:15am-12:15pm

Derf Backderf presents a launch event for his extraordinary graphic memoir My Friend Dahmer, relating the experiences his childhood friendship with notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. This promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year, and at this panel Backderf will share insights into its making and some of his personal memories of Dahmer.

Comics vs Games
Location: Learning Centre, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4W 2G8
Time: 12:15pm-1:30pm

If you’re in Toronto ahead of TCAF you can drop in at the Magic Pony gallery at 680 Queen Street West for the Comics vs Games art show, which runs through Thursday 3rd May and features collaborations between indie game designers and indie cartoonists. If you miss the show, catch this panel, which goes behind the scenes of the collaborations and looks at the relationship between comics and games.

Comics Childhoods
Location: Pilot Tavern, 22 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5
Time: 1:45pm-3:00pm

This panel boasts a truly acclaimed line-up of talents. Allison Bechdel (Fun Home), Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Michel Rabagliati (the Paul series) and Jennifer Holm (Babymouse) discuss childhood stories and how best to capture childhood in comics. It should be a great panel for readers, but if you’re more interested in making comics, and if you’re young enough, you may want to check out…

Teen Comics Workshop
Location: Ristorante Fortuna, 12 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5
Time: 2:15pm-3:45pm

Faith Erin Hicks, creator of Friends With Boys, shares her personal experiences turning her passion for comics into a career, including what worked and what didn’t. This panel is expressly aimed at teenagers who want to pursue a life in cartooning.

New, Exciting and Queer
Location: Pilot Tavern, 22 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5
Time: 3:15pm-4:15pm

We’ve talked before about the crowdfunded Little Heart queer comics anthology at ComicsAlliance; this panel looks at how Little Heart came together. It also looks at Letter Q, a collection of queer writers’ letters to their younger selves, and the general state of queer comics today. Panelists including Lucy Knisley, Emily Carroll and Maurice Vellekoop.

Adventure Time Mega-Panel
Location: Marriott Bloor Yorkville, 90 Bloor Street East, Toronto ON M4W 1A7
Time: 3:15pm-5:00pm

We love Adventure Time here at ComicsAlliance, so of course we’re excited for a panel packed with almost two hours of adventure! Creator Pendleton Ward heads a line-up of cartoon and comic contributors including Ryan North, Bob Flynn, Andy Ristiano, Michael DeForge, Steve Wolfhard and Jesse Moynihan. The session includes live drawing demos and a Q&A.

Konami Kanata in Conversation
Location: The Japan Foundation, 131 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON
Time: 6:30pm-9:00pm

The author of the bestselling manga Chi’s Sweet Home makes her first North American appearance at this year’s TCAF. She will talk about her thirty year career in manga and her extroardinary success, but also about the after-effects of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami on the Tohoku region of Japan. Part of the proceeds from sales of Konami’s books at the signing at this event will go towards tsunami relief efforts. This is another free event, but reservations are required. Visit the website for more information.

Alison Bechdel at Buddies in Bad Times
Location: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto ON M4Y 1B4
Time: 7:00pm-10:00pm (doors 6:30pm)

This year the annual TCAF Queer Mixer in Toronto’s gay village takes the form of a launch event for Alison Bechdel’s new autiobiographical book Are You My Mother?, the follow up to her widely acclaimed masterpiece Fun Home. Attendees can stay on after the mixer for Tallulah’s Cabaret, or they can hop in a cab and cross town to go to…

Location: Pauper’s Pub, 539 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M5S 1Y5
Time: 9:00pm-2:00am

Not just a party, but a party with live art demos from cartoonists Zach Worton, Geneve Firanski, Ray Fawkes and Becky Cloonan! $5 cover on the door; free to guests, exhibitors and volunteers.


Thoughts on Panel Layout
Location: Learning Centre, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4W 2G8
Time: 11:30am-1:00pm

If you’re a formalism nerd like me you’ll be desperate to check out this session on the language of the comic page, featuring Aaron Diaz, Francis Manapul, Emily Carroll and more breaking down comic layouts and talking about some great examples of format innovation. Bryan Lee O’Malley will join this panel for the last half hour, once he’s done with…

Making Manga in North America
Location: Marriott Bloor Yorkville, 90 Bloor Street East, Toronto ON M4W 1A7
Time: 11:30am-12:30am

North American manga pioneer and Empowered creator Adam Warren is joined by Conan artist Becky Cloonan and Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley to discuss the influence of manga on North American comics and creators. These are three of the very best in the business, so don’t be surprised if this room is packed to the rafters, and consider sticking around afterwards for…

Japanese Comics for Kids with Komani Konata
Location: Marriott Bloor Yorkville, 90 Bloor Street East, Toronto ON M4W 1A7
Time: 12:45pm-2:00pm

If you missed Konami Konata at the Japan Foundation event, this is another chance to see the author of Chi’s Sweet Home in conversation. This panel will also explore the rich 80-year history of kids’ comics in Japan with Vertical’s Ed Chavez and’s Deb Aoki. Between them these guys must know everything there is to know on the subject.

Crowdfunding a Comic
Location: Learning Centre, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4W 2G8
Time: 1:15pm-2:45pm

Crowdfunding is one of the biggest stories of the last year in comics, and it’s not going away any time soon. This panel features a raft of creators and editors with first-hand crowdfunding experience as they discuss the benefits and pitfalls of the approach and how it impacts the creative process. This is sure to be an eye-opener for fans and creators alike.

Writing Pictures with Words
Location: Ristorante Fortuna, 12 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5
Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm

Subtitled “Comic Writer’s Craft,” this is the only comic writing panel among the workshops, so it should be busy. The panelists present a great cross-section; Becky Cloonan wrote and drew Wolves but frequently works as an artist with other writers; Ray Fawkes took on a unique writing challenge with his recent mindblowing work One Soul; Jim Zub is a writer with a gift for getting the best out of talented newcomers on his books Skullkickers and Makeshift Miracle; and Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics is one of the few writers in the business who doesn’t have an artist because the strip uses the same clip art for every installment!

Kate Beaton Spotlight
Location: Marriott Bloor Yorkville, 90 Bloor Street East, Toronto ON M4W 1A7
Time: 3:30pm-4:45pm

Kate Beaton is one of the superstars of Canadian cartooning, but a somewhat unlikely one given that she established her fan base by giving away cartoons about literature and history online – not the sort of path to success that anyone could have anticipated. Now she’s the New York Times bestselling author of Hark! A Vagrant. The interview will be conducted by Beaton’s friend and fellow cartoonist Chip Zdarsky (Prison Funnies), and he’s always entertaining, so this should be a fun, informal and far-reaching conversation.

Comics in the New Millennium
Location: Pilot Tavern, 22 Cumberland Street, Toronto ON M4W 1J5
Time: 3:30pm-5:00pm

The final panel of the weekend, and an apt note to end on. Matt Madden leads a panel including Faith Erin Hicks, Jeffrey Rowland of the webcomic Overcompensating, alt-comics guru Box Brown, and illustrator and print-maker Matt Forsythe as they talk about the impact of changing technology on creating, distributing and experiencing comics. The ideas that emerge in this panel may set the tone for discussions between now and TCAF 2013.

There are of course many more things going on this weekend TCAF, and the above should just be considered a helpful guide. You can find the complete programming breakdown at the TCAF website.

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