The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (Henceforth referred to as "TCAF" because I am lazy) took place this weekend, and I attended both days because I'm insane. Did most of my shopping on Saturday so I could get stuff before it went out of stock (Went on the Sunday last year and a bunch of stuff was gone), and today I went so I could experience the show with my sister and her husband. We're all big comic nerds. This is VITAL INFORMATION.
On Saturday I wound up getting there pretty late, at around 3:00 (The show closed at 5:00), so I didn't have much time to do anything but shop, and quickly. Made a beeline for the webcomics section on the second floor and got to work. At this point it's important to note that TCAF is only starting to become a popular place for webcomic artists to show off their stuff, only really being a notable show in this way starting with last year. At TCAF 2010 there was a nice big room lined with artists' tables, with a whole lot of space in the middle for walking around and organizing stuff in your bag and whatnot. Even if a really popular artist had a really long line it didn't get in the way very much, as this is a very big room. This year it was the same room, but the middle was filled with another big circle of tables. What used to be a generously-sized walking area was now two heavily crowded aisles. And, to make it even more cramped, attendance was way way higher than it was in 2010. The long lines at the popular artists completely blocked off some of the lesser-known individuals, which really is a shame. I had to wait in line at one point just to cut through another line to get to someone. It was a mess.
Anyways, with that out of the way, let's get to the actual cool stuff. The first familiar booth I saw was helmed by Chris Hallbeck of The Book of Biff, a comic I've been reading for a few years now. I met up with him last year, too, and he's a really great guy. Seriously, he is the most intensely nice person I have ever me, and I mean that in the best way possible. Anyways, I walk up to him, shake his hand and introduce myself. I mention my online name (PsychoDuck, for those of you not paying attention) and he's like "Yeah, I recognized you!". My reaction (Not really but ponies). Not only is he really nice, he also has an INCREDIBLE memory. So I buy a book from him, get it signed (Pictures in the lower section of this post), and chat for a bit. I tell him about the other people I'm there to see and, luckily enough, he says that they're all in the exact same row as him. Isn't coincidence a wonderful thing? I wave goodbye and embark on my journey of comic-related AWESOMENESS (Also this will probably be the longest artist-related paragraph as I didn't have time to really converse with anyone else)
If I remember correctly (It's been a long weekend, excuse the occasional time-related inaccuracy), the next person I had the pleasure of meeting was Christopher Hastings of Dr. McNinja. He was debuting a new book there and I just had to grab me a copy before they were gone. Luckily there's still a whole whackload of them sitting around so I grab myself a copy, complete with an autograph + sketch. Onward to my next adventure!
Next up I find Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics and he is pretty much the coolest Canadian dude you guys. Also he's tall and could probably hurt me if he wanted to (Not that he would). And his table is covered in, well, these. I think you all know what happened to the $20 in my hand at this point. Since there's really no good way to autograph a plush (Except the tag but that'd be lameness) I said my humble goodbye and moved along (Gotta keep that line moving).
Then I found my way to the fourth person I came to see, KC Green of Gunshow (Not a comic for the kiddies). I grab a copy of his new comic compilation, the inner front page emblazoned with a sketch of my choosing... Two ducks having a tricycle race. THERE WILL BE PICTURES OF THIS, YOU GUYS, JUST YOU WAIT.
Somewhere among all of this I also happened across the booth of Graham Annabelle, the man who did all the art for Puzzle Agent. I really wanted to get something from him as well, but his stuff all looked so pricey (Five postcard-sized prints for $40? I respect that you have to make money but I just can't spend what I don't have!) I really couldn't afford to buy anything from him, and I thought I'd come across as a jerk if I talked to him without buying anything. So I walked away kinda sad and that was the single lowpoint of the entire day.
After that I hung around the ground floor for a little bit, then made my way to one of the auditoriums for a special little show. Recently a whole bunch of people from all over the world collaborated to release a book called Machine of Death. It's a collection of short stories from a world where a little kiosk in a mall can take a blood sample and spit out a piece of paper stating how you will die. It's really a very interesting read and I recommend it to anyone 18 or older (Some mature themes are touched on). Ryan North and David Malki! (Who has an exclamation point because he's special or something) were a big part of putting this book together (Ryan came up with the original idea by accident in an old Dinosaur Comic) and decided to have a little fun with it. They arranged a little game called "Machine of Death: Draw and Guess", which is basically Pictionary using ridiculous modes of death. Things like Buried in Old Newspapers and Claws. Two teams of three competed (Each team having two artists and one guest from the audience) and took turns drawing and guessing in three minute periods. One of the three players was given a mode of death, and they had to illustrate it as best as they could. The other two players have to guess what it is, and each correct guess gets a point. A really fun game, and probably the best part of TCAF for me. I'm not going into too much detail here because it was filmed, and I'm sure it'll be showing up online somewhere very soon. Once I manage to find it I will post it here and everyone will love it and peace will stretch across the universe.
After that event wound up, the audience was let loose, encouraged to snag up any drawings from the game that they wanted. I managed to grab one for myself, and a picture will follow, don't you worry. I also managed to grab four official Machine of Death cards. Again, there will be pictures. You shall see. I also had a nice little conversation with David Malki!, thanking him for everything and discussing how awesome TCAF was. Pretty much directly after than an announcement was played over the speaker system saying that the show was closing in five minutes, so I was OUTTA THERE.
END OF THE FIRST DAY, 24 HOURS REMAIN
Today I managed to get to the event far earlier, somewhere between 11:00 AM and noon. Lots more time to look around and take in the incredibly friendly atmosphere of the festival. I also took two special things with me today: My copy of the Machine of Death book (Must fill with signatures!) and the sketch I saved from the Machine of Death game on Saturday (Must also get signed because I am crazed). Of course, the main priority today was seeing stuff my sister and her husband wanted to see, as they didn't attend on the first day (Which you would know if you were paying attention. PAY ATTENTION). Also I had no money so I just followed around as she did her thing. Conveniently she had a big plan drawn out for tracking down all the Machine of Death artists so that kinda worked well for me. I wound up getting a signature from every MoD-contributing artist in attendance, which really was very nice. Also got my sketch from the game signed. Happy times. Pictures of all that stuff at the end of the post (As usual). It also wasn't quite as busy there today which was pretty neat. Having room to inhale is pretty nice.
While my sister was having a conversation with one of the artists I wondered off and chatted with Chris Hallbeck again. Holy crap nicest freaking guy. I found a dollar so I bought a button with a picture of a toaster on it from him because toasters are awesome.
Somewhere around this point we all went for lunch and drew things on the big paper table covering (This was encouraged, man. They had crayons. CRAYONS). Pictures of my horrible artistic abilities lie below.
We still needed to track down a few more artists for signatures at this point, so back to the show we went. As we were looking for one artist we came back to the area Graham Annabelle was in, and noticed something I was ashamed to not have noticed the previous day: The frigging Doublefine artists were there. Guys who worked on Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. Guys. GUYS. THIS IS COOL. I talked with these people and they were awesome.
Just as we were about to leave, I pointed out a cool print of a lonely astronaut on Graham Annabelle's unattended table (Artists need to pee, too, you know). My sister took interest and took a look at some of the stuff there and, as we investigated, Mr. Annabelle returned. I figured I was kinda obligated to talk to him at this point so I said how awesome Puzzle Agent was and got some neato info on the sequel, due out in June. The first game ended with an awful cliffhanger and I was all disappointed, but luckily, Puzzle Agent 2 will answer EVERYTHING and also be pretty awesome so now I'm happy. At some point my sister decided to buy one of his books for me, which was also awesome, and Graham signed it and everyone was happy and the entire festival broke out into a major musical number orchestrated by Weird Al Yankovic.
...okay some of that might not have happened but you get where I'm coming from on this. This was cool you guys.
Now my memory's pretty crazy at this point but I'm pretty sure this was basically the end of the day at this point. Now it is time for pictures of things. Pictures with the links in italics were taken by my 3DS and they suck pretty hard but DEAL WITH IT. Most of the important pics were taken with an actual camera so things are pretty alright.
HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS! PICTURES!
Cover of The Book of Biff #5: Split Personality by Chris Hallbeck
Signature in Book of Biff (Hallbeck even remembered the tagline I write in all my comments. Neato guy)
The ultra-amazing toaster pin
Cover of Blood Cloud by KC Green
The doodle inside Blood Cloud of two ducks having a tricycle race. It's pretty magical. And sideways. Tilt your head or something. You have a neck for a reason.
This is Wee Rex. You will love him or face the consequences.
Cover of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Night Powers by Christopher Hastings
Sketch of King Radical declaring something all of you probably know already. Also this is inside the McNinja book in case the pattern I'm using here hadn't yet been detected.
Cover of Stickleback by Graham Annabelle. I already read through this and it is certifiably awesome.
Signature and mini-doodle inside Stickleback
The sketch from the Machine of Death game, signed by Aaron Diaz. Guess what the mode of death being portrayed here is and you'll be pretty cool.
Machine of Death cards. As you can see these modes of death are pretty ridiculous.
Cover of Machine of Death. I've had this book for a few months now so it's pretty beat-up. It adds PERSONALITY
Official Machine of Death stamp. Kinda hard to see but Ryan North has this little press that made embossed logos and he used it on a page of my book. It's pretty awesome.
Machine of Death Signature Parade: Danielle Corsetto (This one contains profanity) --- Vera Brosgol --- Scott C. --- Kean Soo --- Cameron Stewart --- Jess Fink --- Ryan North (Writer, bottom of page) and Aaron Diaz (Art, top of page) --- Dylan Meconis --- Ramon Perez --- David Malki! --- KC Green
And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for... The crappy drawings we made at lunch. This is a Minecraft Creeper by me because my artistic talent restricts me to simplistic shapes and I'm terrible. And this is Ketchup Spatula, a "My Little Pony" inspired character drawn by my sister. The pony flips burgers for a living which is pretty damn morbid when you think about it so... Don't think about it.
In summary TCAF was the most amazing convention I have ever been to. Although it's not really a convention, I guess. It's called a "Festival" and, really, that's a far better word for it. Everyone's just there to enjoy themselves, talk to each other and have fun. There was just the greatest atmosphere of happiness in there that I couldn't help but smile. It's truly amazing and anyone who ever has the chance to attend it really should.
PS: I'm probably forgetting some stuff but that's what the edit button is for. And now I unleash this post into the world. *Click*