The Toronto Comic Arts Festival was last week but I’m only getting around to doing my post con blog post now. If you aren’t familiar with TCAF and why it’s the most awesome comics show I’ve ever been to you can find my thoughts on last year’s show here.

The Toronto Reference Library

After brunch at Cora’s (an awesome Canadian breakfast restaurant) we headed down to the Toronto Reference Library where the show has been held since 2009 when I first attended it. Every year TCAF just gets bigger and better than the previous year. There were over three hundred cartoonists in attendance this year. There were so many awesome cartoonists and panels at this show that I didn’t have time to see everything that I might have liked to. The attendance was bigger than ever before too. It’s been crowded the previous two years I’ve gone but nothing like it was this year.

The free mini comics and bookmarks I brought to TCAF.

Last year I put together a free sampler of the first fifteen Lemon Inc. comics the night before the festival. Because it was so last minute I only managed to print ten copies. I wanted to be more prepared this year so I put together a couple of six page samplers. I printed a hundred copies of the first one but ran out of toner before I could print more than one of the other one which was a collection of all the Gerald comics. At the last minute I decided to make some free bookmarks too. I left most of the minis and bookmarks by the front door. Last year they had a whole table of freebies but this year there were only a few flyers there that were not mine. By the time I left all the mini comics were gone and most of the bookmarks were as well. Hopefully one of the people who picked up a mini comic is reading this right now!

The books I got at TCAF this year.

My first stop at TCAF was right by the entrance at Vera Brosgol and  Jen Wang’s table. Vera Brosgols’ awesome looking upcoming graphic novel, “Anya’s Ghost,” was not out yet but I was able to get a copy of Jen Wang’s “Koko Be Good,” which after reading it, is now one of my favourite graphic novels. It’s deals with very universal themes of morality and is a great book to give someone who doesn’t read comics. The art is very expressive and there are a lot of innovative storytelling choices.

The sketch I got from Jen Wang in "Koko Be Good".

The next book I picked up was Steve Wolfhard’s “Cat Rackham Loses It”. Unfortunately Mr. Wolfhard was at a panel when I stopped by his table so I didn’t have a chance to get it signed. He’s going to be at Fan Expo though so I’ll catch him there. I saw that Scott Chantler had the collected Tek Jansen so I got that because I love Stephen Colbert. His other book, Two Generals, looks really good and I’ll definitely want to read that eventually.

The best part of TCAF for me has become the second floor, which is where all the webcomic artists are usually placed. Coincidentally some of my favourite print cartoonists were there this year as well. I had wanted to pick up a copy of Dave Roman’s “Astronaut Academy” but I realized that it doesn’t come out until June.

For some reason even though Faith Erin Hicks has been at TCAF both of the previous years I have attended it I have never managed to make it to her table. I picked up all her books a while ago and I’ve been a big fan of hers ever since. I’m especially excited about her upcoming graphic novel, “Friends With Boys” which will be about a home-schooled girl. As someone who has been home-schooled his whole life I’m looking forward to seeing how I relate to it. She was debuting a collection of her fantastic webcomic, Superhero Girl, at the show and was down to two copies by the time I got there, one of which I bought of course. I had also brought two of her other books to get signed. I felt a little guilty about that when I realized that she was doing really awesome sketches in every book  she signed but it was worth it because her sketches are amazing.

The sketch I got from Faith Erin Hicks in "Superhero Girl".

...and another sketch in "The War at Ellsmere"!

I was really excited when I learnt that Tyson Hesse, of Boxer Hockey, was going to be at the show. I love his art style, especially his expressions and colouring which are the two things which I consider to be most important when drawing Lemon Inc. I got the Boxer Hockey book as well as Diesel, his awesome fantasy adventure comic, and a Riitz T-shirt which is now my favourite shirt, beating out even my seven Scott Pilgrim shirts. Tyson was also nice enough to do a sketch of Riitz for me in my Boxer Hockey book.

Riitz from Boxer Hockey!

I was also very excited that Dave Kellet was there this year. I’m sure everyone who reads Lemon Inc. already knows who Dave Kellet is but if you don’t then go read Sheldon or his Sci-Fi comic, Drive. I got the Drive book and a couple of Sheldon collections and he did awesome sketches in all of them.

Arthur from Sheldon!

Flaco! Also from Sheldon!

Finally, I got Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak’s 2010 sketchbook. I haven’t read though all of DC’s archives yet and I was hoping that he had a book version of it but his art is beyond stunning so I was really glad to get his sketchbook.

Before leaving TCAF I had to see the Machine of Death: Draw and Guess panel. If you aren’t familiar with Machine of Death, it’s an anthology of stories about a machine that can predict how people will die. The panel featured Aaron Diaz and KC Green on one team with  Kate Beaton, and Christopher Hastings on the other. The cartoonists drew death scenes while their teammates tried to guess the prediction. Some of  the most entertaining predictions included “dolphin,” “buried by squirrels,” and “complications”.

There were a few people at TCAF like Meredith Gran, Brandon Dayton, and Joel Watson, whose tables I never got around to seeing since there was just so much stuff there and the show ends at five. Paul Westover was even there and I’m still kicking myself for not talking to him. Hopefully they’ll be at next year’s show.

My Scott Pilgrim action figure! Complete with sword and bass guitar!

We ended the day by going to The Labyrinth, a great comic book store in Toronto, for Free Comic Book Day (which happened to be on the same day) and to pick up the Scott Pilgrim action figures. I’m not a huge action figure collector but I make an exception for certain properties and this is one of them.

It was an awesome day and I’m sure it will be even better next year when I will hopefully be behind a table. I applied to exhibit at TCAF this year and I even managed to get onto the waiting list but didn’t make it into the show in the end. I think this is fair seeing as I wouldn’t have had the Lemon Inc. book ready for this year’s show anyway. I’m going to apply again for the 2012 show which I think I will have a better chance at getting into once I have the book done. That reminds me I have a comic to make…