Of all the TCAFs in the world you are the TCAFiest.

Once again the majesty of TCAF, my comfort blanket and stress inducer at the same time, has drawn to a close. Definitely the biggest ever in terms of exhibitors and crowds, especially the Saturday. I’m told all the panels and presentations went well though I only really had time to see what was at the other tables. I needed to divide the Toronto Reference Library into small, manageable chunks, to git r done. Conundrum was right up front, between Koyama and Drawn and Quarterly, representing the We the North contingent. And of course much has been said about the Drawn and Quarterly 25th anniversary celebrations and anthology. I could add to all the praise and hype, but I wrote a short piece about publisher Chris Oliveros in the anthol so I’ll let that stand for itself. There was a lot of deserved praise heaped upon the Chief.

But first things first. I arrived a bit early so was able to hang out in Toronto without being a sweaty stressed beast for a change. So I decided to check out the AGO where I knew Heartless author Nina Bunjevac has a room dedicated to her new book Fatherland, which was nominated for a Doug Wright Award. So among the Basquiat, Polish WW2 Jewish ghetto photos, and Emily Carr I found the room.


Fatherland is based on a story from her first book Heartless which I published, but it is a much bigger achievement. Truly an epic work. And to see it in the AGO made me my heart grow three sizes. But on with the show…

Here we are setting up. Check out all those fantastic new books before they are gone!


Here’s our delightful neighbour Dustin Harbin whose set up was more akin to the scaffolding of a ship. 


His Dairy Comics was being launched by our other neighbour, Koyama. Here is Ed Kanerva and the team including patron saint Annie way at the end…

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And then this happened…

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Conundrum was debuting 4 titles and had a signing schedule and everything, though that broke down a bit since the artists seemed to be happy hanging out all day and making my life easy. Here are some obligatory signing shots starting with Nina (at the Penguin booth):


Kat Verhoeven signs Towerkind @ Conundrum. Kat was busy at her table upstairs all weekend. 


Julian Lawrence came from Vancouver to debut Drippy’s Mama. On Mother’s Day! Ah the synergy. Fun moment was on Friday night when Julian and I ran into Julie Doucet after she had been praised as a trail blazing cartoonist and feminist icon at the DQ panel discussion. I remembered that Julian actually had a comic in a very early issue of Dirty Plotte so I reconnected them after 20 years! Ah the synergy.


Joe Ollmann signs. This guy… what can I say? Above and beyond the call of duty. Hardest working cartoonist in a room of hard working cartoonists. A man who visits his mother on mother’s day. 


An incognito Dakota McFadzean blows on the ink of his signature. His Dailies book was the best seller at the Conundrum table.


Zach Worton signs The Disappearance of Charley Butters.


And how cute is this? Zach and Julian meet for the first time and proceed to sign books to each other. Speaking of cute, this is definately the cutest moment of the entire show. Journalist, comic expert, tweeterer and all round great guy Jeet Heer wrote the intro to Ollmann’s new book Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People. Here Jeet shows his daughter the portrait Joe drew of him. Whozat? 


Of course I had to keep telling everyone, nothing at the table was actually for kids. Another Conundrumite in attendance was Simon Bosse at the Mille Putois table but we were selling his new book Loiterers


Also in from out of town was Elisabeth Belliveau, whose One Year in America was nominated for the Doug Wright Award. Here she is with another Doug Wright nominee Meags Fitzgerald and Julian.


And then it was time to cross our arms. I think Joe designed a new shirt for this so look for that next year.


Joe has taught his daughter Liz well…


The Saturday night was the Doug Wright Awards, hosted as always by Brad Mackay, but this time R. Sikoryak did live drawing. Conundrum was well represented.


David Collier did an excellent job, even in his trademark digressive way, at introducing and presenting the Pigskin Peters Award for avant garde work which he had previously won in spectacular fashion. The winner was the mega talented Connor Willumsen.

Next up actor and writer Don McKellar introduced the prize for the Nipper, the Award for talent deserving wider recognition (traditionally a first book). And the winner was… Meags Fitzgerald for Photobooth: A Biography!


So proud. I remember signing a contract with her in the grass at Parc Lafontaine when the book was not much more than an idea. She worked so hard to get the book finished she made herself sick. So well deserved. Then Lynda Barry took the stage to sing with her mouth closed and delight everyone in the room. She introduced the winner for Best Book and lo and behold… Nina Bunjevac won for Fatherland! Again hard work pays off.


At the end we were treated to R Sikorak’s complete night’s work. Here’s Don and Jeet checking it out.

Next day was more of the same but the crowds were down. One notable absence from TCAF was regular Britt Wilson. She had a good excuse though. She was busy giving birth to her first child! On Mother’s Day! Big congrats to her.


Nina celebrates her win with pal Chester Brown and Dave Howard.


Meags shows off her Nipper before her book sells out. But look for her next book, coming soon…


Robert Dayton brings his brother by to snag copies of Drippy the Newsboy.


Dakota doing his Daily… Sneak preview Internet!


Dave and Brad discuss (Canadian) comics…


Charles Burns signs. The Pigeon Press table carried his work and it was the most colourful of all.


Dustin finally got his scafolding up.


Zach, Seth, and Joe.

And on a final note, here is what you get when you order a gluten free veggie burger in Toronto.


Thanks as usual to all the TCAF volunteers, the library, the DWA, Peter Birkemoe and Chris Butcher, The Beguiling staff, my adorable artists who go the extra mile for me, and everyone who decided they wanted to buy the awesome product Conundrum was selling. Whew, managed to get through this post without mentioning my Square. Oops.


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