Toronto Part 2- TCAF

I don’t think we stayed up toooo late at the pre-TCAF party, and I was sticking to Vodka and Tonic so I woke up feeling OK. It was great to meet Doug Wallace and Emma Hayley from London based publishers Self Made Hero, who had arrived in Toronto straight from Mocca in NYC.

We arrived at the venue- the reference library- and set up our tables. People were already queueing well before the opening at 9am.

We seem to have been placed on something of a ‘Brits Alley’, just down the line from Joe List, Lizz Lunney, Luke Pearson and Philippa Rice. No Brow were on the other side of us and Sean Azzopardi was the other side of the room.

Setting up didn’t take long and soon people were filling the room

Here’s an exhibitor’s eye view of my table:

The place was soon packed. We were on the second floor, in the Appel Salon. There was a great view of the first floor from the balcony outside our room.

What’s great about TCAF is that it is free to get in, so alongside comics fans you get the general public, wondering what the buzz is all about and discovering comics and graphic novels for themselves. Darryl Cunningham had a psychiatrist wander in and find the Blank Slate table and Psychiatric Tales, and buy a few copies!

The guy with the earring isn’t the psychiatrist, by the way, Darryl told me about it. This is just a picture of the Blank Slate table, with Martin Steenton on the left and Joe Decie in the middle and Darryl signing.

Around lunchtime Darryl, Simon, Lizz and I collected John Porcellino from his table and walked round the corner to the Marriott Hotel to conduct a panel discussion on comics and mental health. We were a bit late starting, there must have been about 60 people sitting there waiting for us. We hurriedly plugged my macbook into the projector and started the conversation. It was a great discussion. Simon and I co-chaired it, and everyone talked about their own work, about what comics can contribute to discussion of mental health issues and about how the comics medium seems to lend itself to this discussion. In the rush to set up I forgot to turn on my digital recorder and will probably kick myself forever for not recording the session. We are, however, planning to recreate something similar in a text discussion which we will post at some stage.

After the first day I went out for a mexican meal with Darryl, Sean, Simon and Sara Griffin. They kept us waiting an age at the restaurant and Sean hadn’t eaten all day! The management sent a young waiter out to placate us by giving us some novelty maraca bottle openers!

We wandered back to the hotel for a rest, that’s Sarafin who writes Asylum Squad in the ultrafeminine garb on the left, then Simon (in the ultramasculine garb on the right) and I headed out for the (mid)TCAF party on a rooftop bar which got quite chilly as the night progressed into the small hours.

The next day was just as mad, albeit with a (blessed) later start at 11.

As the day drew to an end we queued up to sell some of our left over comics to the folks at the Beguiling– THE most amazing comics shop I have ever been to, then made our way back to the hotel to prepare for the post TCAF party.

You can spot me in this TCAF video tour, talking to Sarafin at my table

part 3- Post TCAF- coming soon

Toronto part 1: Pre-TCAF

OK. TCAF is over and I’ve had an exhausting but enjoyable time. This is a catch up/ round up blog post to let you know what we’ve been doing during our stay.

Simon gave a talk at the University of Toronto dept of Geography, to help pay for his trip. I went along to hang with the geographers and was interested to learn that Foucault is much quoted by human geographers as well as health humanities academics. The talk- about affordable artists studios in London- was interesting. We then went for a drink and investigated Kensington Market, meeting up with Suley again and a magician friend of his (the performing kind) Will.

The following day we were picked up at 8.30 by Shelley, who drove us to the University of Toronto campus at Mississauga for the teaching and workshop session we were to run for her Biomedical Communication students.

This is an impressive new park, about half an hour from downtown Toronto. We were introduced to the faculty, who were housed in about the best academic offices I’ve ever seen (not that I have seen that many).

The talk went well. We gave the 30-odd students and faculty members an overview of our own comics work and then went on to talk about the interaction of comics and medicine.

We got the students (and lecturers) to make some jam comics, which turned out to be very funny.

Then we did a guided visualisation exercise, based on one described by Lynda Barry in What It Is. I’d seen this used by MK Czerwiec in her Graphic Medicine program at Northwestern University. It went down very well, and impressive work was produced.

The students presented some of the finished 9 panel strips to their peers.

After the class we were taken out for lunch by the faculty.

You will notice that I have emptied my glass the fastest.

Shelley drove us back to the hotel and we got ready to go out to the first of three TCAF parties- the Pre-TCAF party- which took place in The Pilot. I didn’t take any photos.

The next day was TCAF- coming up in the next posting.


Simon Moreton and I have arrived in Toronto for TCAF. We flew with Air France via Paris and I must say the flight was pretty tollerable in this age of squeezed margins and shrinking legroom. We were served Champagne by the young, friendly cabin crew and enjoyed the good selection of films available.

Last night we met up with my friend Suley Fattah, originator of Drawing the Line, a benefit comic collection for Cancer research in Canada and his wife, the magician Julie Eng. We went to the pub.

This morning I distinguished myself at a local cafe where we had breakfast by (almost) wrecking the hinges of the plate glass door.

Simon is giving a talk to the geography dept of the University of Toronto this afternoon and then tomorrow morning we are doing a workshop for Shelley Wall‘s biomedical illustration students at the U of T

Simon and I are both exhibiting at TCAF, along with fellow UK comics people such as Darryl Cunningham, Lizz Lunney, Philippa Rice, Joe Decie, and Sean Azzopardi

On Saturday Simon, Darryl, Lizz and I are running a ‘Comics and Mental Health’ panel discussion with the great John Porcellino at 12.30 in the Marriott Bloor hotel.