CTON does TCAF

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CTON does TCAF

This past weekend was the comic event of the year in Toronto in terms of the type of comics I prefer. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (also known as TCAF to comic nerds) happens every two years and is put on by the Beguiling (mentioned before). For 2009, the venue was at the Toronto Reference Library which is huge and sprawling with all sorts of nooks'n' crannies to get lost and hide comics in & around. I had the opportunity to share a table with my artist collective, Trio Magnus, and my first publisher, Koyama Press. We had all sorts of goodies for sale, including a whole wack of great books.

The show this year was incredible! There was a lot of traffic and interest by the public which was great to see, plus a lot of comic exhibitors in general. Seeing that I was there to make money (yes, comics aren't always for fun), I tried my hardest to stay at my table and not to wander around tempted to buy comics from the hords of amazing creators & publishers. It was DAMN hard I tell ya! I managed fairly well, but still picked up a few good finds. Two were not Canadian, but I'll tell you about them anyways (I'm supposed to talk about Canadian comics on this thing).

The first one jumped right off of the Beunaventura Press table and into my hands (Beunaventura Press is my all-time favourite publisher). It's a french import featuring one of my favourite Euro-duos Elvis Studio on the cover, and is a massively thick anthology of great comic folks. The name is L'Horreur Est Humaine Vol.2 No#1 put out by Editions-Humeurs. Unfortunately, I can't really read french but since comics are half drawings, 'it don't matter'! The thing is chalked full of great work from Johnny Ryan & Peter Bagge (a hilarious combo piece called 'Hipler'...wish I could read this one as I'm sure it would make me poop my pants in laughter), super-creepy paintings by David Sandlin, amazing & equally as creepy illustrations by Chaland, some wonderful pages by Ruppert & Mulot with people getting their limbs ripped off (yippee!), and the list goes on. Basically, its SUPER AMAZING and I will learn french just to read this one.

The second non-canuck book was Frankie Pickle & The Closet of Doom published by Simon & Schuster. Its a youth-focused comic by Eric Wight about some kid with a crazy imagination. Not the craziest plot, but the drawings are really beautiful & I like the format which has comics and writing inter-twined. I will report back when I have a chance to actually read it, but I've heard great things. Eric also had a cool set-up in one of the adjoining rooms where he displayed some original artwork from the book amongst a 'Temple of Doom' sorta feel.

As for the Canadian finds... there were TONS & TONS, but I only managed to trade/buy a few. One thing about the editions I picked up this year is that they had a very zine-like, self-published quality. I'm really into these indy finds. Don't get me wrong, I love beautifully printed comics with high production value, but there is something about these following comics that shows the real love of the genre. Plus they were cheap. Check it:

A Very Kraftwerk Summer by Christopher Hutsul (Koyama Press), which is a great mini-comic by Toronto's own comic/reporter/director/printmaker/genius. It's a memoir about 'Geoffrey' and how he spends his summer hanging with Kraftwerk. The book is hilarious & has a great silkscreened cover. Definitely a good find for anyone into local wackiness. (BTW, Christopher Hutsul is one of my favourite creatives here in Toronto. He used to do a weekly strip for Eye Magazine a few years back, and has done a whole wack of comic-based work over the years... plus he just might be the guy responsible for my decision to become an illustrator professionally! Nice one.)

College Type Funnies by Patrick Kyle & Chris Kuzma (self-published) is an excellent example of the incredible work coming out of Toronto these days. I went on and on about Wowee Zonk in my last post, and this is another book by some of the dudes in that collective. The cover is silkscreened but is only the beginning as the inside contains two hilariously weird & wacky stories about college frat boys, booze, rocking out, and stange creatures. These guys must be on something, but whatever it is, its working! Great find and highly economical for these times.

Parade of Humanity by Michael Comeau (Koyama Press) makes all the other comics look like church literature. This newspaper zine-like artpiece is a huge collage of Comeau's porno-cut-and-paste mastery. I'll be spending hours looking through the detail to find something else offensive. Definitely not for kids, but hey, us adults all need some naughty stuff, right?

Last but not least, I traded for a zine by Fiona Smyth called The Wilding. This one is the 'My Beloved Beheaded' issue and features a bunch of great local comic creators ranging from Maurice Vellekoop to Tanya Read to Jeremy Kai. A very old-school, zine-like comic - nothing beats self-publishing!

Besides all the amazing comics I couldn't buy, I saw a lot of prints that I'd love to see on my walls at home. I managed to trade a book for one from one of my heros (Michael Cho). It is one of many he's created depicting Toronto backyard alleys. Anyone who lives in this city, knows the mystic of our alleyway system. Ingenious & gorgeous work as usual from this guy - I think I'll need to collect some more of these. I managed to meet a lot of great comic folks from out of town, and based right here in Toronto. Its amazing how much home-grown or based talent we have right here! I'm hoping that I can corner a few of them for some words on this blog before the month of May is up.

Overall, TCAF was a great place for both comic-nerds and regular people to get out and see some really great books & comics. If one wasn't into comics before checking out the show, I'm sure they would have been after. The only downfall is that the festival is only every TWO years! However, there are other events to get out and sample comics & publishers other than TCAF. One is in August here in Tdot called Fan Expo(SUPER nerd fest where stalkers & ultra-dorks go), and the other is a bit of a hike, but still not that far - MOCCA (a similar styled event to TCAF) in NYC. Either way, they'd both be guaranteed to have some great (Canadian) comics.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Clayton Hanmer

Clayton Hanmer (aka CTON) is a Toronto-based illustrator, author and graphic artist. He is the creator of CTON's Corner, a popular feature in OWL Magazine, as well as the author/illustrator of CTON's Super A-Maze-ing Year of Crazy Comics.

Go to Clayton Hanmer’s Author Page