No really, comics are for everybody!
This weekend the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is the hot spot for comics fans from all over Ontario (and beyond) to gather and geek out. But TCAF is not a typical comic book convention. In fact, it’s very unconventional and that is a huge part of its appeal. It’s not an epic event that caters to buying mint issues of Green Lantern sealed in plastic or getting that $40 autographed picture of Leonard Nimoy (which is nerdy-licious in its own way). Instead, TCAF is a free and unique event that takes its cues from the likes of the Small Press Expo.
Much like the store that brings you this event – The Beguiling – TCAF is a chill place that strives to be welcoming and inclusive. It’s for folks who are really into comics, but it is accessible to those who are casual fans or even just curious about what all this graphic-novel fuss is about. As an added bonus, TCAF always includes queer guests, books and programming.
When I asked Chris Butcher (one of the founders) about this inclusion, he noted that “TCAF isn’t unique in offering programming geared to queer audiences (although it might be in Canada), but it is something that we’ve been doing since our second year, and it’s important to me personally. As a gay man, I love seeing queer-themed programming at comics events, and there’s really no reason queer creators shouldn’t be prominently featured – and not just for their queerness (although, that’s all right too, in moderation). As a comics retailer and fan, I kind of want everyone to read comics, and so we offer a fun, informative event to a general queer audience, and I feel confident that they’ll find a lot to like.”
2011′s queer-specific programming offers a little something for everybody. You can sit in on a daytime panel, such as That Comic Isn’t About Me: Gender, Sexuality and Race in Comics, or you can head over to the evening TCAFabulous queer mixer at Crews & Tangos, grab your beverage of choice and mingle among the queer comics fans and creators.
Most people know what to expect from a panel discussion, but for those of you wondering what you can you expect from TCAFabulous, we asked host Scott Robins for the dish:
“This year’s TCAFabulous event is something a little different. Instead of organizing a straight-up reading or a serious panel discussion, we wanted something fun and campy. An event that would make people laugh. So we’ve collected a selection of images: comic book covers and panels, mainly from mainstream comics, that all have a slightly bent element to them, some intentional and some totally unintentional. Mainstream comic books are generally read by straight men, but we want to expose how queer comics really are – the gaudy costumes, the eyebrow-raising relationships and the sexual innuendo. The panellists will share their sharp and witty observations about the images presented. The evening will continue with a chance for queer fans to mingle with each other and with their favourite queer creators from the show.”
Robins goes on to share, “One panellist, Maurice Vellekoop, equated the night with a group of queers cutting up the Oscars. I thought it was a perfect analogy. I’m very excited to be hosting the event, and I’ve been practising my sass all week.”
So regardless of your knowledge of the medium, TCAF welcomes you and your sass to the wonderful world of comics this weekend, because comics really are for everybody.
See you there!
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Saturday, May 7, 9am-5pm
Sunday, May 8, 11am-5pm
@ Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St, Toronto
Admission to TCAF is Free.
Some queer highlights:
Saturday, May 7:
That Comic Isn’t About Me: Gender, Sexuality and Race in Comics (A21)
In the Learning Centre
Panellists: Erika Moen, Yuko Ota, Ananth Panagariya and José Villarrubia; moderated by Zan Christensen
Check out the TCAF site for more info.
Saturday, May 7: TCAFabulous: Queer Mixer
Crews &Tangos, 508 Church St
Panellists: José Villarrubia (Colourist extraordinaire, The Book of Copulations, Mirror of Love), Maurice Vellekoop (Pin-Ups… & A Nut at the Opera), Zan Christensen (Publisher, Northwest Press) and Erika Moen (DAR! & Bucko) will target mainstream comics with their pink optic blasts and expose the hidden (really?) queer in all your favourite comic book characters.
Check out the TCAF Facebook page for more info.
_______________________________Tags:Chris Butcher, Comics, Crews & Tango, Erika Moen, Graphic Novels, Hot Spot, Queer Comix, Suzy Malik, TCAF, The Beguiling, Toronto