You’re twitching. You’re fidgety. You’re nervous. You know why? ‘Cause summer school starts next week. Sucks, don’t it? Only one measly weekend separates you from the tragic cruelty of summertime studies. “One weekend,” you say, “that’s not so bad! Maybe I can do something awesome in that weekend so that when classes start, I’ll feel like my vacation lasted more than two weeks!” That’s a pretty ambitious goal, friend. Fortunately, I think I may be able to help.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is an annual, publicly-funded, entirely free event dedicated to supporting independent comic book makers and retailers from Toronto and abroad. Spread over two days at the delightful Toronto Reference Library (delightful because you’re at a library and you’re not studying! Ha!), TCAF attracts exhibitors from all over the world who set up their booths to sell their works, chat with fans, sign autographs, and doodle the occasional doodle. Most exhibitors are known only within small circles, so don’t be surprised to find a hidden gem (such as my great discovery of 2011, pictured right). Conversely, some guests are as famous as graphic novelists can be: this year’s headliner is Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize-winner of Maus, which also happens to be assigned reading to about five or six courses each year.
TCAF is large enough to take up almost the entire library, and it’s impossible to get through it all in one outing. Although entrance is free, you can’t really appreciate the event without bringing some money to drop on a beautiful new graphic novel or, if you’re feeling thrifty, one or two micro-comics (which were my great discovery of 2012, one of which is pictured left). There are also some free events, such as talks by the festival’s guests and book signings. Pins, buttons, and stickers are sometimes free but always awesome. In any case, it’s a big enough venture to be made into a day trip, and an excellent one to be had right before school begins all over again. (Caveat: Former/future students of ENG235 might not experience this as recreationally as others).