Monday, May 9, 2011

Toronto Comic Arts Festival: Pencil it In


The Toronto Comic Arts Festival exists to promote the breadth and diversity of comics, and what is considered comics, as legitimate medium of literary and artistic worth. We seek to promote the creators of these works in their broad and diverse voices, for the betterment of the medium of comics and to reach as wide an audience as possible for them.

The first Toronto Comic Arts Festival (“TCAF”) was held on the weekend of March 29th 2003. It was the natural progression of years of disparate book signings, author appearances and miscellaneous events put together by a group of volunteers interested in promoting the literary and artistic merits of comic books and graphic novels. Approximately 600 members of the public attended the first festival, with 25 staff and approximately 70 creators in attendance.
Attendance and excitement grew during subsequent events, held every two years. TCAF 2005 was held the weekend of May 28-29, and saw approximately 6,000 attendees visit the large tents set up on the grounds of Honest Ed’s department store. TCAF 2007 moved back indoors to the Victoria College building on the University of Toronto, and it also featured about 6,000 attendees over the August 18-19 weekend. TCAF 2009 was our biggest event ever, taking place in partnership with Toronto Public Library in their massive flagship location, Toronto Reference Library. 10,500 people visited the festival on the weekend of May 9th and 10th, engaging over 300 exhibitors consisting of authors, artists, publishers, from 6 different countries including France, Germany, Japan, and England.
While a Festival the scope and size of TCAF was a natural progression of locally organized events, often in coordination with Toronto comic emporium The Beguiling, it also grew from equal parts agitation and inspiration caused by other large-scale events dealing with the comic book medium. While most of shows of this nature are pop-culture events and tend to be insular in nature, we wanted to do something that dealt more specifically with the art form of comics itself, with an emphasis on genre appreciation and open interaction between creators and their community.

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