My TCAF Thoughts 2011: Day 2

Unlike Day 1, I was able to spend much more time at TCAF on Sunday. I came down for open at 11 and stayed until about 3:30. Sunday was a much more reasonable day for the crowds, probably because it was also Mother’s Day. It was definitely busy but the lines were quite manageable and one could move around and see a lot of people.

I had some primary goals  for the day (1) to check in with Joe Shuster Award nominees and see who was coming to Calgary that hadn’t been announced, (2) invite a few people to Fan Expo and (3) look around and find some books that I’m interested in that were debuting at TCAF.

All three goals were met easily.

Day Two Purchases: Cat Rackham Loses It by Steve Wolfhard ($5), Centifolia II by Stuart Immonen ($20), Just the Usual Superpowers by Faith Erin Hicks ($12), Aurora Borealice by Joan Thornborrow Steacy ($15), Even the Giants by Jesse Jacobs plus a limited edition print $40, and finally That Night In June – mini-comics by Emily Carroll ($15). If I wasn’t broke from some art purchases the week before and May rent I would have bought more.

I felt that Sunday was a much more enjoyable day to attend this event because the crowds were a bit lighter and the space was more manageable. I still feel that the library is a tight fit and that if TCAF 2012 returns to this space that the library needs to retreat a lit further back. I don’t think there are enough washrooms in the facility in easily accessible locations, and the presence of the homeless who usually inhabit the library made for a few uncomfortable moments, especially in the washrooms.I did not attend any programming on Sunday.

Overall I felt that TCAF 2011 was a massive success and kudos should go to the organizers of the event and to the volunteer staff. Every creator and attendee I talked to was in a happy, exuberant mood – even when the show was at it’s most chaotic. The comics community, at least the creative (for the most part non-superhero comics) crowd, was having one giant group hug and I never felt there was any ill will towards anybody or anything at TCAF. There was just a lot of comics love.

As you know, I also work on Fan Expo in late August and I think the two events are a huge compliment to the city of Toronto for having such a large population of comics people. Plus they bookend the summer. Some observers think that these events are in some kind of popularity race, when I don’t think that is the case at all. They have different goals, different ambitions but cater to overlapping interests. You can love both for different reasons, or just go with the one that you feel is the right fit. Fan Expo isn’t free, sadly. It also isn’t subsidized by the government so your admission fees do go towards paying for the space and the guests we bring in.

I walked into TCAF tired and a little worn out from a week of announcing guests for Fan Expo and walked out energized and excited about the upcoming Calgary Expo in June and Fan Expo Canada in August. Now that TCAF and the Wright Awards are done with for 2011, I need to get down and finish my work for 2011 and I’m refreshed and ready to go!

My recommendations: Get the library to retreat further back and clear more space, or move to a different venue (which is not easy to do or find), please don’t book on Free Comic Book Day again (you are still part of a larger community and that community does rely on FCBD exposure), think about doing a weekend other than Mother’s Day (perhaps the second weekend in May instead of the first?), and find better locations for some of your more popular webcomics creators so that the lines don’t mingle or block other tables.