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What Is TCAF?

TCAF is The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is a week long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, which culminates in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. Other Festival events include readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and much more. Since 2009, TCAF has been held at Toronto Reference Library in Toronto, Canada, and presented by Toronto Public Library.

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2014 will take place Saturday, May 10th, 9am-5pm, and Sunday May 11th, 11am-5pm, at Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street.

Admission is free.

Exhibition space is completely full for the 2014 show.

For more information on the specific creators, events, and exhibitions that make up this year’s TCAF, please check the schedules and listings in the “Events” and “Who’s Coming?” sections of the website.

FAQ

TCAF SOUNDS AWESOME! Can I please exhibit at TCAF this year?
Nope, sorry! Exhibition space for TCAF 2014 is completely full. There is also no space on the waitlist.

Wait, so what is the festival? Is it like a comic convention or anime convention?
No. No, it is not.

So what is it then?
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is a unique comics event, patterned after comics festivals like Angouleme, Harlem, and the Small Press Expo. It is a week of comics-related events, including readings, presentations, panel discussions, gallery shows, and a large exhibition area featuring publishers and comic authors and artists. We like to describe it as ‘unconventional’.

So can I still do convention-type stuff at it? Like cosplay, skits, walking around ‘in-character’, etc.?
We recommend against it.

Conventions are held in dedicated spaces, and these become ‘safe’ spaces for attendees to express themselves creatively. TCAF takes place in a public building, and TCAF exhibitors and attendees mix with members of the general public and library customers and that’s what makes it special, but it also makes for a very different vibe than a convention, and one that might not welcome your particular brand of creativity.

We put it like this: You probably wouldn’t wear your Captain America or Karakat Vantas costume to the library on the weekend before TCAF, so you probably shouldn’t wear your costume to the library on the weekend of TCAF. All of us that run the show support personal creative expression through costuming and performance, but TCAF just isn’t an appropriate venue for that.

We have the utmost respect for all of our attending publishers, authors, and their fans, and we want everyone to enjoy themselves. We’re not singling any one or any fandom out. This is about TCAF and the way we do things, and we decided from the get go that this was going to be a literary festival and not a con, and that means that some attendees are going to need to find a more appropriate venue for their cosplay, their performances, and/or their meetups.

How much does it cost to go?
The Festival is free to attend, as are most Festival-related events.

So this is in Toronto CANADA then?
Yes! TCAF is held in the heart of Toronto, with plenty of options for entertainment including great restaurants, shopping, bars, tourist attractions, museums, movies and more. It is not being held in the ‘tourist’ district, which means everything is a bit more reasonably priced (and fun).

Won’t there be snow or something?
Probably not. Stranger things have happened. But we’re expecting great weather for the May 10-11, 2014 weekend.

Will I have to get Canadian Money then? How does that work?
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival will be held in an area with three or four banks, several of which will be open on the Saturday/Sunday. In addition, many vendors and restaurants happily accept US dollars, and most debit cards will work in Bank ATM’s.

The Canadian Dollar is currently worth about the same as the U.S. dollar, give or take 5 cents.

I’ve never been to Canada before, how does that work?
For U.S. Citizens, a passport is required to enter Canada, and to re-enter the U.S. afterwards.

As for coming into Canada, Canada Customs is generally staffed at the border with nice people who want you to come into the country and spend money. As long as you have a clear address for where you’ll be visiting (hotel, friend’s house, etc) and a phone number, you’ll likely have no problems coming into Canada.

As for getting to Toronto, it’s actually further south than a number of U.S. cities. Toronto is only a 3.5 hour drive from Detroit, 8.5 hours drive from Chicago, and 10 hours drive from New York City. If you’re flying into the city, we recommend using Porter Airlines where possible, and flying into the downtown “Toronto Island Airport”, code YTZ. If you are not flying from one of the cities serviced by Porter, the other Toronto airport is “Lester B. Pearson International Airport”, airport code “YYZ”, about 30 minutes outside of the city.

How can I help? Can I volunteer or something?

Totally! Every year, TCAF needs about 200 enthusiastic volunteers to make TCAF happen and you could be one of them… We ask anyone interested in volunteering for TCAF to get information on the Volunteer Information Page and then fill out our Volunteer Application Form. Applications are closed for 2014.

I have more questions!
Please contact us at contact@torontocomics.com, we’ll do our best to answer your questions for you. Keep checking this page for updated information as well!

History

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival exists to promote the breadth and diversity of comics, and what is considered comics, as legitimate medium of literary and artistic worth. We seek to promote the creators of these works in their broad and diverse voices, for the betterment of the medium of comics and to reach as wide an audience as possible for them.

The first Toronto Comic Arts Festival (“TCAF”) was held on the weekend of March 29th 2003. It was the natural progression of years of disparate book signings, author appearances and miscellaneous events put together by a group of volunteers interested in promoting the literary and artistic merits of comic books and graphic novels. Approximately 600 members of the public attended the first festival, with 25 staff and approximately 70 creators in attendance.

Attendance and excitement grew during subsequent events, held every two years. TCAF 2005 was held the weekend of May 28-29, and saw approximately 6,000 attendees visit the large tents set up on the grounds of Honest Ed’s department store. TCAF 2007 moved back indoors to the Victoria College building on the University of Toronto, and it also featured about 6,000 attendees over the August 18-19 weekend. TCAF 2009 was held in conjunction with Toronto Public Library in their massive flagship location, Toronto Reference Library. 10,500 people visited the festival on the weekend of May 9th and 10th, engaging over 300 exhibitors consisting of authors, artists, publishers, from 6 different countries including France, Germany, Japan, and England. Since 2010 TCAF has been held at Toronto Reference Library, with attendances of 12,500 in 2010, 15,000 in 2011, and 18,000 in 2012 & 2013, across all Festival events.

While a Festival the scope and size of TCAF was a natural progression of locally organized events, often in coordination with Toronto comic emporium The Beguiling, it also grew from equal parts agitation and inspiration caused by other large-scale events dealing with the comic book medium. While most of shows of this nature are pop-culture events and tend to be insular in nature, we wanted to do something that dealt more specifically with the art form of comics itself, with an emphasis on genre appreciation and open interaction between creators and their community.

Staff

Co-Founder, Festival Director: Christopher Butcher
Christopher Butcher has worn many hats in the comics industry, on both the creative and administrative sides of the fence. He is currently the Manager of The Beguiling, and a freelance writer who blogs at http://comics212.net.

Co-Founder: Peter Birkemoe
Peter is the co-owner of Toronto, Canada’s Beguiling and one of the founders of TCAF.

Managing Director: Miles Baker

Media Coordinator: Nathalie Atkinson
Journalist, comics enthusiast and diabolical chief media strategist. For all press inquiries, including interview requests and accreditation, please e-mail media@torontocomics.com.

Support Manager: Andrew Townsend

Programming Director: Gina Gagliano

Programming Coordinator: Andrew Woodrow-Butcher

Site Coordinators: Parrish Kilthei, Sean Rogers, Krystle Tabujara

Past TCAF Sites

Have a Look through our past TCAF sites!

2003

2005

2007

2009

2010

2011

TCAF 2003-2009 sites designed by Christopher Butcher. 2010-2014 sites designed by Nadine Lessio.

TCAF Poster Archive