Tuesday, August 21, 2007
TRAVELOGUE :: Toronto Comic Arts Festival Recap!
Whew, am I tired! Although there are worse ways to get there than a trip to Toronto. Which is exactly where Shelton sent me last weekend, to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival up in gorgeous Ontario, Canada. Seriously, Toronto is a pretty city--and I live in Charlotte, which is no dump, either. Those of you who live in Charlotte and have visited New York City, imagine a bizarre hybrid of the two--all the amenities of a giant city, except not so giant, and shockingly, surprisingly, impressively clean. Plus, the part of town that the convention was held in was filled with gorgeous old ivy-colored buildings, often right next to giant modern structures or steel and glass apartment buildings. And, coming from a week of 100+ degree temperatures in Charlotte, the 60-75 degree range up in Toronto last weekend was a slice of heaven. Heaven, I tell you!
Oh, but let me tell you about the convention--remember the convention? This was the (I believe) third iteration of TCAF, held previously in 2003 and 2005, and a success by any measure, I'd say. Held on the grounds of the Old Victoria College, it gave a very academic air to everything. Seriously--you had to walk down at least two or three gorgeously landscaped sidewalks to get anywhere, and any anywhere you might be headed to was inside a big stone college building, covered in ivy. The convention-goers mixed in pretty well with regular-ole college students, so I often felt like I was in a college with a ridiculous love of comics. Tables were set up in a connected network of high-ceilinged rooms, with fans milling from table to table, up and down stairs. While I usually don't like this style of show setup, as you inevitably don't get to all the rooms, and have a terrible time remembering where anyone was if you do, the quality of the setting made it a little more like an academic bazaar. It certainly helped that everyone I talked to was very friendly and helpful, always a plus for us Southerners, who often have our Southern accents mercilessly mocked when we go anywhere north of say, Richmond.
It certainly didn't hurt that they had so many cool guests in attendance, many of whom are even now pondering the invitation I gave them to attend next year's HeroesCon. I'd forgotten that Nextwave and Ultimate Spider-Man artist Stuart Immonen was on the guest list, and had a good time talking to him at his table. Ditto for Paul Rivoche, who was super-duper nice, and so humble I almost asked him to carry my bag for me. It's always the most talented guys that are the sweetest, I guess, which is fine by me. I got to talk to a number of people who are either already coming next year, including Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, and Jeffrey Brown; plus a number who are near confirming, who of course I can't name out of deep respect for their privacy, and also fear. But I met a ton of people over the weekend, and passed out a lot of flyers with our spiffy new Indie Island logo, and generally had a great time.
But while walking around a convention for hours and hours is no picnic on the legs, it's the after-hours that can really drain a guy like me. Trying to keep up with Paul Pope is definitely draining--these New Yorkers have partying muscles that we North Carolinians just lack. On the other hand, Pope's a former Torontonian, so it was nice to have a person who knew the in's and out's of the city at your back. We hooked up with some locals, including the super-cool Steve Manale and Gary Taxali, plus got to see good ole James Jean again, which is always a plus. Toronto is like Charlotte in that all the sweet people seem to know each other, so the nights were a who's who of sweetness.
Big ups go to convention organizers Peter Birkemoe and Christopher Butcher; who, besides running a very cool show, also run one of the coolest comics stores (let's say second-coolest, shall we?) around, The Beguiling. Although due to a medley of schedule-destroying events on Sunday, I never got to go by and pay my respects, not to mention shop. I did get to meet both of them at the show, and spend some time talking about the enormous energy it takes to put on a show of any quality at all. Very cool guys--thanks a lot for making a poor dumb Southerner feel at home up in Canada!
So the long and short is that you can expect some really awesome HeroesCon guest list announcements in the next couple of weeks, as I gradually wheedle all my invitations into confirmations. Next stop: Marc Nathan's Baltimore Comicon, coming up just two days after my birthday: September 8-9! I believe Shelton and Todd and I will be making a weekend of it. Party!