Sunday, May 6, 2012

Toronto Comic Arts Festival

Sunday May 6, 2:53 p.m.

Made a rare trip downtown yesterday. Saw Yorkville for the first time since I returned for good. Not too bustling but then again it was a Saturday morning. But it made for a nice walk. I noticed some of the old names have disappeared.  I knew that the old Movenpick had long gone, but so has Bellini's, the Italian place that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman had frequented years ago when they had been still married.

The reason that I did go was to take a look at TCAF, the annual Toronto Comic Arts Festival which has been active since 2003. Shard had invited me and so I joined him and another friend, John, to take a look at what has become a growing international festival of graphic novels and their authors.

 It was held at the Metro Library just north of Yonge & Bloor. There have been some renovations underway there for the past few years. But they didn't get in the way obviously. We got there at about 11, a couple of hours after it had officially opened, and there were already a ton of people inside. By noon, the first floor looked like Shinjuku Station during rush hour. According to the official website, the organizers took pains to insist that this was NOT a Comicon by any means since the event was sharing the library with regular users and not holding its own party....the message being that cosplayers were not really welcome. However, I did see a few flamboyantly dressed characters.

And TCAF wasn't really about the conventional Marvel and DC superheroes, although the timing of it with the general release of "The Avengers"was strangely coincidental. This was about the serious graphic novelist and his/her works. There were some very slick and serious productions out there on the tables, manned by pretty amiable authors and publishers. I had initially thought that at least some of them would be the sullen withdrawn types who communicated in well-inflected grunts.

 There was also one room that was devoted to indie video games. Who'da thunk it? I thought that the label was only for music and movies. "Choose Your Rock God" was pretty nifty.
Ah, there is one flamboyantly dressed young lady.

Yup, I did my fair share of karaoke parties in the past. English teachers were basically drawn to them like a moth to a flame.
Hey....what a concept! I think I did something similar.

 Now, I don't know all that much about the serious graphic novel industry nor do I have all that much passion about it, but I was pretty envious of all who were around me since they seemed to be in some sort of love-in with their fellow fans and heroes. I would put John and Shard in that group; they were bantering with some of the authors here and there. Of course, the good thing about a certain detachment from the proceedings was that I wasn't particularly desirous to part with my money....the $10 I had in my wallet was good enough for a cheap lunch at Starbucks.
 I think the Hero of the Day would probably be French artist Hugues Micol. John and Shard were quite enamoured with his work, "La Chien Dans La Vallee De Chambara"...a work which involved a female warrior of sorts in Edo Era Japan. Some minutes later after my friends had asked about him, he showed up and proceeded to draw the protagonist right in their autographed copies of the novel. Shard pointed out that a lot of other artists would've just scribbled something in 20 seconds and asked for 20 bucks. Micol took 20 minutes to painstakingly draw the woman in full kimono on the inside cover for both John and Shard. The advertising side effect was great since Micol's drawing attracted a few other folks to his table.

Here is the man himself with his tubes of paint in full action.

A very interesting experience and perhaps a good primer if I ever attend an actual sci-fi convention someday. I can only hope that the Hollywood crowd would be as nice and generous as Hugues Micol was yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival. Not that I would ever ask any actor to re-enact a scene at the Bell Lightbox. I'd probably compare the ever-increasing TCAF to a hermit crab. It just perpetually needs to get into a bigger shell. I think even the library was perhaps a bit too small to hold everyone. Perhaps it will need to get deposited into the Convention Centre next year.