TCAF 2014 Festival Wrap-Up – Announcing TCAF 2015
My name is Christopher Butcher, and I’m the Co-Founder and Festival Director of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (what we call TCAF). Last month on May 10th and 11th we held the ninth iteration of TCAF, a wonderful celebration of comics, graphic novels, and their creators, from Canada and abroad. On behalf of the entire TCAF team, I’d like to thank all of our attendees, exhibitors, and the staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make 2014 a success.
TCAF 2014 was a pretty phenomenal year for us: we fine-tuned many aspects of the Festival to make them the best that they could be, and introduced new elements to the Festival that will further our mandate to promote and enrich the careers of cartoonists and graphic novelists, with a focus on all of the great work being done here in Canada. As every year, we hope to build on these successes, address deficiencies, and move boldly forward into the future.
As in previous years, the report on our 2014 Festival will be informal, light, and hopefully entertaining, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Oh, but before I start: Could you fill out our attendee survey? We’d really appreciate it! Click here.
SAVE THE DATE: TCAF 2015 takes place May 8th, 9th, and 10th
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is thrilled to announce that it will return to Toronto Reference Library and The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon for 2015. The dates are Friday May 8th (Professional Development), and Saturday May 9th & Sunday May 10th (Exhibition Dates). This continues the wonderful partnership between TCAF and its Presenting Sponsor Toronto Public Library, and secures a beautiful, large, and central location from which to continue building the Festival.
In addition, TCAF will continue to spread its programming and exhibitions through the surrounding neighbourhood and the city, by partnering with venues including The Marriott Bloor Yorkville, St. Paul’s on Bloor, The Pilot, The Japan Foundation, and more. TCAF will continue to grow through its programs and exhibitions, maintaining a strong mix of exhibiting and participating artists each with something unique to offer.
We think it is important to include the Friday May 8th date in the ‘official’ TCAF 2015 dates, as this Professional Development Day is a true extension of our aims and goals. We hope that comics professionals of all stripes, including creative and support professionals, librarians, teachers, archivists, and academics, will continue to support and engage these activities.
And, as in previous years, the Sunday of TCAF will coincide with Mother’s Day. We encourage all Moms reading this to get on board with comics (if they haven’t already!) and to explore the great collections within Toronto Public Library! Failing that, we encourage everyone else with a mom reading this to schedule a nice early brunch before TCAF opens to the public at 11am that day…
Building a better TCAF – Attendance is up! Crowd control is on point.
We’re always conflicted about an increase in attendance numbers, because the physical size of TCAF’s space at the library has not increased significantly since 2011… so we were surprised to hear that attendance was way up for 2014! To us, everything felt like it moved pretty smoothly, and we’re going to do our best to keep things flowing in the Library and all of our spaces in the years to come.
This year’s attendance across all TCAF events was approximately 22,000, up from 18,000 in 2012 and 2013. Both Saturday and Sunday saw considerably more people coming through Toronto Reference Library than last year, based on raw data provided by Toronto Public Library. Sunday in particular was up considerably over 2013 thanks to some really great weather (versus 2013’s hailstorm…).
In addition to the Toronto Reference Library, our space at The Marriott Bloor Yorkville for panels and programming saw vast increases, and our TCAF Kids Day event at St. Paul’s on Bloor hit capacity at several times. Many programs at The Pilot were standing room only, and our Friday professional programming also had respectable attendance, though we recognize there’s room to grow there too!
Our greatest successes came through our wonderful partnership events, particularly all the activities associated with Comics Vs. Games 3: The Bit Bazzar, Comics Vs. Games Showcases, and Comics Vs. Games 3D Gallery. The Bit Bazzar and associated events drew more than 3,000 people, nearly double the numbers in 2013! All of our off-site events this year were very healthily attended. From our kuš Gallery Show “The Last Match” to our screening of the Canadian comics history documentary Lost Heroes to our ever-popular Queer Mixer, events were jam-packed with folks, both those already familiar with the medium of comics and newcomers finding their ‘way in’.
Our continued partnerships and outreach events remain a vital part of the growth of the Festival, and these events will continue to increase in number and diversify in the hopes of reaching the widest-possible audience for comics and graphic novels. Our partnerships with cultural organizations like The Alliance Française, The Japan Foundation, and the Goethe-Institut, and like-minded peers like Bento Miso, the Hand Eye Society, and Attract Mode, will help make this a reality.
Thank you for your support!
TCAF is going to remain a festival that is free to attend, with affordable tables and tons of free (or inexpensive) programming for the public, and we couldn’t do that without the support of our sponsors and partners.
First and foremost, 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 their huge contribution to the Festival. It’s this partnership that helps communicate one of TCAF’s primary goals: the elimination of barriers to entry to the medium of comics. Comics are for everyone, and having TCAF be a part of Toronto Public Library’s rich slate of programming reinforces that fact to the public. Our thanks to TPL for their continued support.
TCAF also couldn’t happen without the retail and logistical backbone that is The Beguiling Books & Art, and Little Island Comics. These two organizations and their staffs contribute mightily to the organization and execution of this event, and their support is greatly appreciated.
TCAF would like to thank the following organizations for their financial support:
- We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.
- TCAF is produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
- Seneca College School of Creative Arts and Animation for their support of our festival programming.
- VIZ Media for their continued blanket support of the festival.
- We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $157 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
- Guru Studio for their support of the TCAF Welcome Party.
- TopatoCo for their sponsorship of badges and lanyards (a much-requested addition to TCAF!)
- Scholastic for their support of our Kids Programming.
- TCAF would like to thank sponsors Revvly, OwlKids, and NOW Toronto for their promotional support.
- TCAF Library and Educator Day was supported in part by the donations of publishers First Second, IDW Publishing, Scholastic Canada, and VIZ Media.
TCAF’s partnerships with peer organizations and businesses help create a unique and engaging festival, and we thank the following organizations for their support in 2014: Midoco, The CSSC/SCEBD, Bento Miso, The Toronto Hand Eye Society, Attract Mode, The Japan Foundation, Videofag, and Narwhal Gallery.
2014: In Review
After the 2013 Festival, I sat down with my team to really re-think the Festival, what worked and what didn’t. The tenth anniversary was a great time to reflect on how things had been going, and to look towards building the Festival in sustainable, creative, and ever-expanding ways. I feel like the 2014 Festival successfully bore the fruits of these discussions, and set the stage for the next 10 years of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It was a good year, with great guests and exhibitors, thousands of attendees having a wonderful time, and a phenomenally positive energy that buoyed spirits all weekend long. I am very proud of the staff and volunteers who donated their time and energy to execute this very complicated undertaking.
The highlight for me, personally, this year was standing up and welcoming three enormously talented cartoonists—Kate Beaton, Lynn Johnston, and Raina Telgemeier—to the stage for our Friday night Kick-Off Event. I got to say a few words about this year’s TCAF, about redoubling our commitment to inclusion, diversity, and visibility for comics creators of all stripes, and I got to do it in front of three women whose work I admire tremendously. We try not to be too didactic in our approach, but sometimes it’s important to make a statement about the way things are and the way you’d like them to be, and I’m enormously proud I got to do so in front of a packed audience this year.
I’m also very proud of the diversity and vision of our authorial line-up for 2014. We welcomed creators from more than 19 countries around the world this year, with more than 150 first-time exhibitors and participating authors! TCAF has a consistency from year to year, but we strive to keep it feeling fresh and unique as well. Having a high number of new exhibitors helps accomplish that, but sometimes having amazing and unannounced guests helps that too! Our thanks to ‘unannounced’ TCAF Guests Hideki Anno (creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion), and Randall Munroe (creator of XKCD), and the dozens of cartoonists and illustrators who just dropped by to see the show… we’ll try not to blow your cover.
TCAF 2014 also saw the introduction of new programming streams, new ways of engaging fans of the medium and welcoming newcomers. Our biggest addition was the “Comics Academic Conference” on Friday May 9, run by the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics / Société canadienne pour l’étude de la bande dessinée. We were happy to finally, formally, bring an academic component to the Festival, and we thank the CSSC/SCEBD and Barbara Postema and Glenn Willmott from that organization, for developing this new partnership.
We also introduced Word Balloon Academy, our day of professional development and education for comics creators. Everything from skills-building to health-and-safety (thanks, Kriota Willberg!) to financial advice was available, our way of giving back to creators and strengthening the industry. These programs joined our already-successful Librarian & Educator Day to create a full-day of professional development and educational programming, and we will continue and grow these programs in future years.
TCAF was bigger than ever, with a larger programming slate and more diverse in its approach and presentation than ever before too. It was a year of tremendous growth after a lot of planning and rethinking our whole approach, and, well, that’s why we do this crazy thing every year. Thanks for your support of all of you who attended and worked so hard to make it a success.
We Couldn’t Have Done It Without You
TCAF would like to thank all of the participating artists and authors for exhibiting with us. There wouldn’t be a show without you!
TCAF would also like to thank those who dedicated their time moderate, plan, or otherwise to participate in our large slate of programming. We appreciate the considerable amount of work that goes into moderating and developing a successful program, and TCAF is far richer for your hard work–thank you.
Our sponsors and partners, outlined above.
Our event partners The Alliance Française, Bento Miso, kuš!, Videofag, Narwhal Gallery, Attract Mode & Matt Hawkins, The Toronto Hand Eye Society, Guru Studio, St. Paul’s on Bloor, The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, Buddies in Bad Times, Weird Things, The Pilot, The Japan Foundation, The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, The Carlton Magic Lantern Cinemas, The Spotted Dick, The Tranzac Club, and Ryerson University.
TCAF would not have as rich, diverse, and international an array of authors without the support of governmental and cultural organizations and publishers working to promote an international vision of the medium of comics. Our thanks to cultural organizations The Consulate General of France in Toronto and The Goethe-Institut, and to publishers Abrams, Conundrum Press, Drawn & Quarterly, First Second Books, Groundwood Books, Koyama Press, Nobrow Press, La Pasteque, Scholastic Canada, and SelfMadeHero.
In addition, we would like to thank Ginette LaPalme, Chris Kuzma, and Patrick Kyle of the Wowee Zonk collective for curating and organizing our small press area, and taking care of an additional 20+ artists and groups. We greatly appreciate your expertise!
TCAF would like to thank the artists of our official Festival Posters, Isabelle Arsenault, Michael DeForge and Lynn Johnston, for creating such gorgeous images to brand and promote the festival. TCAF would also like to thank Sean Phillips, Darwyn Cooke, Steve Murray, Krystle Tabujara, Derrick Guerin, and est em, for providing original artworks to the Festival this year, and to past poster artists Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, and Natsume Ono for loaning their artwork to our new t-shirts!
TCAF would like to thank Jocelyne Allen, Aki Takabatake, Yoko Galloway, Mimmy Shen, and Stephane Beaujean for their translation support.
Thanks to the staff and organizers of The Doug Wright Awards for another great year, and Happy 10th Anniversary!
TCAF would like to thank the the following individuals for their support in various roles: Leyla Aker, Corey Mintz, Chip Zdarsky, Erik Ko, Kim Hoang, Georgia Webber, Darwyn Cooke, Miguel Sternberg, Jennie & Henry Faber, Jim Munroe, Ryan North, Denise Anderson, Julie Tait, Aki Yanagi, Ed Chavez, Terry Nantier, Peggy Burns, Julia Pohl-Miranda, Kathleen Glosan, Matt Hawkins, Robin Smith, Barbara Postema, Glenn Willmott, and the numerous folks who helped pull together different parts of TCAF.
TCAF would like to thank the Staff of The Beguiling and Little Island Comics, Alex, Arthur, Bettina, Chris, Christine, Derek, Genève, Halliday, Helen, Jason, Jerry, Jim, Jonathan, Laura, and Paul, who contribute mightily to seeing TCAF become a reality each year.
Thank you to TCAF’s head volunteers and site coordinators for 2014: Ahmed Aljumaa, Radwa Auda, Connor Baker, Luc Becker, Pip Bradford, Cassiopeia Burrell, Bled Celhyka, Eva Cherney, Murad Hemmadi, Kim Hoang, Kerrie McCreadie, Tiff Preney, and Sally Sparrow.
Speaking for myself, I would like to thank the rest of the staff at TCAF for their hard work and dedication to the Festival this year. More and more TCAF becomes a year-round commitment for many of the folks involved, and I appreciate that you are all willing to rise to the challenge. My thanks to Miles Baker, Andrew Townsend, Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Gina Gagliano, Krystle Tabujara, Dan Seljak, Georgia Webber, Kim Hoang, Lindsay Gibb, Parish Kilthei, Jamie Edwards, and Nathalie Atkinson. We’ve built an awesome team here.
Finally, TCAF would not be possible without the support of its many volunteers. Our sincere thanks to all of the volunteers and everyone who has donated their time to help make TCAF a success.
TCAF 2015 and beyond!
So we’ve already begun planning for TCAF 2015. Guests are being confirmed, publishers lined up, venues booked. I wasn’t kidding when I said TCAF was becoming a year-round job. Applications for TCAF 2015 will open at http://www.torontocomics.com on August 1st, 2014.
It’s also becoming a year-round festival in many ways, as TCAF begins to exhibit as an organization at other shows around the world, fulfilling our mandate to promote Canadian authors and their works. This year, if all goes according to plan, we’ll hopefully see you in England, Japan, and France. Developing these international relationships, opening up opportunities for our exhibiting artists at home and abroad, that’s what we’re all about, and we’re really looking forward to further growth along those lines in the years to come.
If you are a creator who has exhibited at TCAF who is interested in joining us on one of our overseas adventures, contact us and let us know! We’ll be offering more details here soon.
So in closing, please fill out our attendee survey!
But seriously though, on behalf of myself and the entire staff, I’d like thank everyone who contributed to make The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2014 such a success. We’ll see you all next year, if not sooner…
Christopher Butcher, Festival Director and Co-Founder
On behalf of…
Peter Birkemoe, Co-Founder
Miles Baker, Managing Director
Andrew Townsend, Support Manager
Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Kids Programming Director
Gina Gagliano, Programming Coordinator
Krystle Tabujara, Logistics Manager
Dan Seljak, Volunteer Coordinator
Georgia Webber, Guest Services Coordinator
Lindsay Gibb, Library and Educator Day Coordinator
Parish Kilthei, A/V and Site Coordinator
Jamie Edwards, Site Coordinator
Kim Hoang, Site Coordinator
TCAF Event photos used in this post by Toronto Public Library. Additional photos by me.
TCAF video produced by Joanna Wong, joannawong.ca