TCAF 2013: Festival Wrap-up! 2014 Dates Announcement!

Hello everyone!

My name is Christopher Butcher, and I am the Co-Founder and Festival Director of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (lovingly known as TCAF). A month ago, I presided over and celebrated the 10th Anniversary of TCAF, a celebration of the best of comics, graphic novels, and their creators, from Canada and abroad. On behalf of the entire TCAF team, I’d like to thank everyone who attended, who exhibited, and who worked to make TCAF 2013 a huge success.

TCAF 2013 was a year of anniversaries: 10 years since the Festival’s founding, our fifth time holding TCAF at Toronto Reference Library and in conjunction with presenting sponsor Toronto Public Library, and wrapping up lead sponsor The Beguiling Books and Art’s 25th year in operation. These were all great reasons to celebrate with our biggest and most diverse roster of attending authors yet, our most international festival, and our largest-ever Festival footprint.

In keeping with tradition, I’ll be wrapping up the festival in the text that follows informally rather than doing a big Press Release for it. I hope you enjoy it!


Book Your Time Off: TCAF 2014, May 9th, 10th, and 11th

We’ve been asked about a hundred times since TCAF 2013 wrapped, so we figured we would put the information that most people are anxious about up-front: TCAF will be returning to Toronto Reference Library and The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon on Friday May 9th, Saturday May 10th, and Sunday May 11th, 2014.

Friday May 9th will be a professional development day with programming intended for professionals working in or around the comics industry. This will include the very successful TCAF Librarian and Educator Day (presented by The Beguiling) as in 2012 and 2013, and new for 2014 a day of programming oriented to comics professionals for skills building and development. We are also hoping for additional citywide comics-related programming for the general public, with discussions on that front already underway.

Saturday May 10th and Sunday May 11th will continue the format of TCAF 2013, with the main exhibition area at Toronto Reference Library and Bram and Bluma Appel Salon. This will also include panels & programming at various venues in the Yonge & Bloor area including the Marriott Bloor Yorkville, and additional off-site venues in the spirit of this year’s ‘Bit Bazzar’ and ‘World of Taiyo Matsumoto’ exhibitions .

We think it’s important to include the May 9th date in the ‘official’ TCAF 2014 dates, because we will be doing a full day of programming that fits within TCAF’s aims and goals. We’ll do our best to ensure the general public is informed and educated that there will be no exhibitor area on this day. 

And, yes, the Sunday of TCAF 2014 will again coincide with Mother’s Day. We encourage all moms who haven’t already done so to get on board with comics and TCAF (or, failing that, we encourage children to schedule a nice early brunch before TCAF opens to the public at 11am).


Managing Crowds, Managing Attendance, Building TCAF

We understand that reporting bigger numbers is usually better, but when the majority of your festival takes place in a fixed space, I can tell you, you’d be happy with managing the attendance to be roughly equal…! This year’s attendance across all TCAF events was essentially static as compared to 2012, with a total of about 18,000 attendees. In short, the library had slightly higher crowds on Saturday than a year ago (despite more off-site programming than ever before!) with lower crowds on Sunday thanks to some pretty mean and unpredictable weather (anyone for snow/hail/rain/hail?).

Our off-site events welcomed higher attendance thanks to an increased advertising and promotional focus on TCAF as a larger umbrella for comics events beyond the two day library exhibition. Attendance was very encouraging for off-site events, including a beyond-capacity 1800 people visiting the BIT BAZZAR space at Bento Miso, and more than 1,000 people visiting The World of Taiyo Matsumoto exhibition and presentations at The Japan Foundation.

One of TCAF’s goals going forward is to expand the public perception of the Festival as a larger idea taking place over a longer stretch of time, and comprised of many individual events. Our expanded partnerships with cultural organizations like The Japan Foundation, and similarly dedicated organizations like Bento Miso will help to make this expansion possible.


Thank you for your support!

maurice_vellekoop_tcaf2013_poster-600pxOn that note, the support of our sponsors and partners was crucial in creating TCAF 2013, the biggest and most complicated iteration of the event.

Primarily, we would like to thank presenting sponsor Toronto Public Library, including the staffs of Toronto Reference Library and The Appel Salon, for their continued partnership and huge contribution to the Festival.  The partnership between TCAF and Toronto Public Library continues to reinforce the core ideals of the Festival: Comics are for everyone. TCAF is a free event, TCAF is about books and authors, and TCAF is open to everyone, comics fans and newcomers to the medium alike, and TCAF’s partnership with Toronto Public Library is and will continue to be integral to those goals.

TCAF also receives financial and other support from a number of organizations, including: The Beguiling Books and Art and Little Island Comics; Support from the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council; Programming sponsorship by Seneca College School of Creative Arts and Animation; general sponsorship by VIZ Media; promotional support from NOW Magazine and Owlkids.

In addition, TCAF would not have as rich, diverse, and international an array of authors without the support of the governmental and cultural organizations who work to promote comics culture around the world: The Australian Government through The Australian Council for the Arts, The Japan Foundation, The Consulate General of France in Toronto, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, The Flemish Literature Fund, The Consulate General of Israel in Toronto and Western Canada, the Arts Development Fund of the Home Affairs Bureau Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, The Government of Finland, and the Austrian Cultural Forum.

TCAF partners with organizations and businesses including Bento Miso, Midoco, Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, The Toronto Hand Eye Society, Attract Mode, Church on Church, Steamwhistle Brewing, Beau’s All Natural Brewing CO., The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, and Andrew Lesk and the New Narrative Conference, to program events throughout the city of Toronto; we thank them for their generous support!

Finally, a note of thanks to George Rohac and Benign Kingdom, a wonderful art organization and publisher who came in at the last minute to sponsor the TCAFete, and consequently did not get as much recognition for their generous support as they might’ve otherwise.


All About TCAF 2013

I think that it’s safe to say TCAF 2013 continued the trend of reaching farther, and having greater ambition, than our previous successful events. We pushed very hard to expand the reach and the depth of the festival in 2013, and while I will say that we stumbled a touch during the execution, the attendees of TCAF 2013 had a marvelous time, and I personally am very proud of the event, the staff who created it, and the hundreds of volunteers who donated their time and energy to execute such a complicated undertaking.

matsumoto_poster_final_600pxI think it’s pretty clear that my personal highlight was getting to create such a large slate of programming around Featured Guest Taiyo Matsumoto, one of my cartooning heroes. Matsumoto is a genius cartoonist, and to be able to communicate my love of his work to thousands of people over the course of the weekend is the realization of a decades-old dream, and the result of more than 5 years of planning. While I have a lot of love for all of our exhibiting authors, this is a personal and career milestone for me, and I’m happy I could share it with you.

I’m also incredibly proud of the diversity of our line-up for 2013, in more ways than one. More than 150 authors and artists exhibited at TCAF for the first time in 2013, ensuring  a very healthy mix of fresh faces and unique voices in our exhibition areas. We welcomed cartoonists from more than 18 countries, our highest count ever, with first-time exhibitors from Argentina, Austria, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, and Switzerland. We developed our first two non-English ‘landing pages’ for the TCAF website, making it easier than ever for attendees to visit TCAF and Toronto. And our list of Featured Guests was like a who’s who of prominent international cartoonists from across Europe, and I couldn’t be prouder than to see these magnificent authors illustrate such a diverse and compelling picture of the medium at TCAF.

Also on a personal note, we also strove to represent queer creators and works in our biggest way ever this year. The focus began with the participation of Featured Guest Gengoroh Tagame, and Featured Guest and TCAF 10th Anniversary Poster Artist Maurice Vellekoop, two of the most recognizable queer creators in the world and the subjects of a popular off-site art show this year, and then that focus expanded to include the participation of dozens of queer cartoonists and works, something I’m very proud of, and something I’ll work to build in future years.

TCAF 2013 was really about building on past successes, and growing them. Our very successful Library and Educator Day welcomed an attendance increase over 2012, our presentation of the Comics Vs. Games 2 program was exceptionally well attended, and we opened a brand new, 390-seat programming space for our largest comics programs, which also welcomed The Doug Wright Awards on Saturday night!

I really do feel that, year over year, TCAF continues to engage more and more people—from Toronto and around the world—with the comics medium. We feel that in partnership with some great organizations, amazing people, and a top-notch set of author and artist exhibitors, we’re putting comics’ best foot forward and bringing hundreds—if not thousands—of new readers into the medium every year.



We Couldn’t Have Done It Without You!

Speaking of the folks who made TCAF a success, we’d like to thank some of them now. In addition to the generous support of our sponsors and partner organizations as outlined above, we would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for making TCAF 2013 a success:

- Event partners: The Finnish Comics Society’s Maura Mannein and crew; The Hand-Eye Society’s Miguel Sternberg; Attract Mode’s Matt Hawkins and Adam Robezzoli; Bento Miso’s Jennie Faber; Matt and the team at Steamwhistle Brewing; Beau’s; Church on Church; The New Narrative Conference and Andrew Lesk; The Comic Lounge and Nicole Marie Burton;  Benign Kingdom and George Rohac; The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.

– Thank you to all of our Publishing partners, who arranged and executed very complex schedules to bring authors to TCAF, schedule debut books, and contribute to the overall texture and make-up of the festival. Our special thanks to the following publishers who contributed financially to bring Featured Guests to TCAF 2013: Conundrum Books, Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics Books, Koyama Press, PictureBox Inc., Random House Canada, Scholastic Books, Self Made Hero, United Media, Yale University Press.

We would especially like to thank TCAF 2013 Poster Artists Taiyo Matsumoto and Maurice Vellekoop, for creating beautiful posters to celebrate our 2013 show and tenth anniversary. In addition, our thanks to Gengoroh Tagame who created an original illustration used in the promotion of TCAF. We feel we should point out that all three of these images, alongside the previous TCAF posters, are available at The Beguiling’s online store. :)

– Our thanks to the staff of Toronto Public Library, Toronto Reference Library, and The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, for their support and planning assistance. In particular, thanks to Ab Velasco for his tireless support of TCAF.

– We would like to send a special thanks to our TCAF Featured Guests and exhibitors including Bill Amend, David B., Boulet, Ivan Brunetti, C.F., Chihoi, Glyn Dillon, Lisa Hanawalt, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Chip Kidd, Michael Kupperman, Eric Lambe, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Ulli Lust, Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Francoise Mouly, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Michel Rabagliati, Dash Shaw, Art Spiegelman, Gengoroh Tagame, Raina Telgemeier, Judith Vanistendael, Maurice Vellekoop, and the 300+ other wonderful authors, artists, and publishers who spent their time with us this May.

– A special note here thanking the folks who helped make ‘The World of Taiyo Matsumoto’ possible: Shogakukan Inc. and staff, Hideki Egami of IKKI Magazine, Leyla Aker and Atsushi Yanai of VIZ Media, Alvin Lu, and Kate Sculin and Mariko Lilifeldt of The Japan Foundation. It is not easy to mount a 100+ piece art show, and your support was appreciated, and necessary.

– I would personally like to thank Paul Tjepkema for single-handedly framing the Matsumoto and Vellekoop & Tagame art shows. While he is a Beguiling staffer, he really went above and beyond this year. The shows looked great Paul, you have the gratitude of myself and thousands of people who attended these shows.

– And on that note, a thanks to all of the staff of The Beguiling and Little Island Comics for their work in support of TCAF. Every single employee of those two stores, the lead sponsors of TCAF, basically inherit an extra job for a few months leading up to May, and they handle the additional workload with grace and professionalism—we really do appreciate it.

– Congratulations to the staff and organizers of The Doug Wright Awards for their successful 9th outing! Next year’s the big one folks!

–  This being our 10th Anniversary, we’d like to recognize the accomplishments of the TCAF Staff Members from 2003-2012 who are no longer with TCAF, but who helped shape and grow the festival and helped make it what it is today: Matthew Seiden, Rob Broughton, Sean Rogers, Tory Woollcott, Kate Dickson, Rizielde Roculan, Tariq Samir, Jon Ellis, and dozens more people who offered advice and direction. All of these people contributed enormously to TCAF when there wasn’t as much attention on what we were doing up here in Toronto, but we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

– Our continued thanks to friends and colleagues who contribute meaningfully to the creation of TCAF’s identity on many fronts, including Steven Murray, Diana McNally, Corey Mintz, Nadine Lessio, and Shane Bennett.

– As TCAF continues to become a more international event, the necessity of translators helping us to communicate with the larger world (and the world with us) becomes ever more valuable. First and foremost we would like to recognize Jocelyne Allen for her incredible contribution to the festival, this year and every year. We’d also like to thank Sophie Bipsing, Maki Hakui, Yasu Minegashi, Anne Ishi, and Takeshi Miyazawa for their translation support at TCAF and over the last year.

Thank you to TCAF’s head volunteers and site coordinators for 2013: Parrish Kilthei, Lindsay Archibald, Radwa Auda, Connor Baker, Luc Becker, Amanda Brooks, Cassie Burrell, Avery Cieszynski, Derrick Guerin, Linda Moss, Tiff Preney, Dan Seljak, and Sally Sparrow—you had a very difficult job and you performed wonderfully at it. We hope to welcome you back next year.

Speaking for myself for a second, I would like to thank the rest of the staff of TCAF for their hard work and dedication to the Festival this year. There’s a great deal more to be said than would be appropriate to list here, but, simply, the Festival wouldn’t happen without an amazing team of smart, dedicated folks working it. Miles Baker, Gina Gagliano, Scott Robins, Peter Birkemoe, Andrew Townsend, Krystle Tabujara, Parrish Kilthei, Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Nathalie Atkinson, and newcomers Lindsay Gibb, Georgia Webber, and Jamie Edwards, thank you.

Finally, TCAF would not be possible without the support of its many volunteers. Thank you to all of the volunteers and everyone who has donated their time to help make TCAF a success.


Moving forward into 2014

We’ve just come off TCAF’s internal post-mortem, and meetings with our partners, venues, and sponsors, and the overwhelming feedback is that everyone is very happy with 2013, and excited and eager to begin planning for 2014.

Within TCAF, we’ve already started making changes to accommodate a newer, better way of working, with each other, with our exhibitors and guests, and with the public. We’re happy to announce that Miles Baker has become TCAF’s first full-time employee, and has already begun his new role as Managing Director of TCAF. Many of the TCAF staff will also be changing their responsibilities within the organization, with a goal of working earlier, communicating better, and managing the continued growth of TCAF into 2014 and beyond.

It’s been 10 long years since the first TCAF, and while elements of both shows are similar, TCAF 2013 doesn’t look a whole heck of a lot like TCAF 2003. All of us working on the festival are excited to see what the future will bring, and our hope is that 10 years from now that the Festival looks completely different again, but still working to promote Canadian cartoonists, and the medium of comics in general.

In Conclusion…

So in closing, on behalf of myself and the entire staff, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to make The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2013 a success. We’ll hopefully see you next year.


Christopher Butcher, Festival Director and Co-Founder

On behalf of…

Peter Birkemoe, Co-Founder

Miles Baker, Managing Director

Gina Gagliano, Programming Director

Scott Robins, Kids Programming Coordinator

Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Volunteer Coordinator

Andrew Townsend, Support Manager

Parrish Kilthei, Tech Coordinator

Krystle Tabujara, Logistics Manager

…and the staff of The Beguiling, The Beguiling Library Services, and Little Island Comics

TCAF Photos used in this post by Joanna Wong,