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Friday, May 13, 2011

I went to TCAF and now Don McKellar and I are best friends

Of course, nobody needs another TCAF report but these things are like morning sit-ups to me. I gotta do them. I gotta get down on that mottled yoga mat and do my time. If I stop, dust will gather or I'll just start putting potted plants on the mat thinking it'll protect those hardwoods floors and then it'll be too much work to find a new place for the plants and clean up the mat and I will have lost my rock hard abs anyways so who cares anymore. What was I talking about?

This photo is not exactly the best photo of everyone involved but it does capture almost everyone in the room and has some nice moments. Here we are in the green room, minutes before the opening night event.
Left to right: Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Seth, Chester Brown, John Porcellino, Peter Birkemoe, Chris Butcher, Chris Oliveros, and Dan Nadel. NO LADIES ALLOWED!!

Saturday morning set-up. Jessica is wearing real pearls from her Great-grandmother's estate and a Vivian Wang dress. You can't see her shoes but I thought they were Jimmy Choo's--she insisted that they were Stella McCartney. Chris (in the background) was decked out in Armani. I'm not pictured but I was wearing a misfits t-shirt and tan cargo shorts with black long-johns underneath. There was a miscommunication about wardrobe that morning.

I think I've already written enough about Secret Acres and their dictate that all cartoonists appear at their table wearing hoodies (forest colors only) and ballcaps that show conflicting team allegiance. These dudes are Gabby Schulz and Sam Gaskin. Fine fellows. Fine cartoonists. Sensitive souls.

I sat in on a panel with Mawil (not pictured), Brecht Evens, Bart Beaty, and Ludovic Debeurme. There were some good nuggets. Brecht talked about having no real world experience and that was why The Wrong Place took place in clubs and parties. His next book will largely be concerned with a convention-like gathering because he has now gone to a few of those. Write what you know, people!! Brecht also said that he likes to get involved in the translation of books where he understands the languages because he hates to see his writing mistakes compounded. He will sometimes change the dialogue as he's lettering because he can't stand to see his own clumsiness. Ludovic's book looks like a killer. Super spare "Showing Helder" style drawing. Very Appealing. Mawil's stuff has a classic cartoon-y manic-ness to it. Lots of kinetic detail.

T. Edward Bak, naturalist. In the background, Mike Baehr, T. Edward Bak cosplayer. I swear this will be my last cosplay joke. So long, easy laugh. From now on, I EARN IT!! {Importantly, Mr. Bak is working on his Georg Steller bio, Wild Man and looking for homes for the forthcoming chapters. Eventually, D+Q will publish this masterpiece in progress.}

Over at the D+Q table, the signing onslaught begins. John P signs his three D+Q titles. John was at the festival promoting The Next Day, a look at survivors of suicide. It was written by someone else but beautifully drawn by John. Check out John's blog for more details on his tour and the giant banners produced for the event a few days before TCAF.

Pascal Girard and Zach Worton (debut book The Klondike) settle in for their signing on the other side of the booth. I think we had something like ten or eleven (twelve?) authors signing at various times during the weekend. I think five simultaneously was the record.

Chester arrives and gets ready for his signing. Chester carries the most enormous vulcanized backpack. It's pretty awesome to see. Chris keeps his icy distance from TCJ 301 while Pacal and Zach inspect. Which reminds me, was Eric Skillman there? He will be the first name on a list of many people I never met at this amazing and hectic show. I was lucky that I ran upstairs at the very end of the show in time to see Sam from NoBrow. I spoke to Dave Cooper only briefly in the men's room (a respectful twenty feet bathroom personal space was maintained during our brief conversation.) Jay Stephens? Never saw him.

Peter Birkemoe, Beguiling owner, decked out in an Alexander McQueen jacket from the great late designer's final collection (true!). A couple things about TCAF: really wide aisles which was nice because this place was packed. Stuffed to the gills with actual Torontonians, Ottawans, Buffaloans, Hamiltonians, and Londoners. This show is smooth too. I think Peter quoted that there were around 130 volunteers. Everyone was very attentive and the supervisory staff was excellent. Extra special thanks to Andrew who kept his cool all weekend and could always find a volunteer when I need to send a sandwich back to Starbucks (wilted lettuce, ugh) or have someone get my dry-cleaning. A note to Andrew, tell the volunteers to lift up the car floor mats before vacuuming next time--it is noticed! Still...great job.

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki signing at the Beguiling table. There was always a long line for these ladies and deservedly so and I couldn't help but think what a golden age of comics we live in. Also, holy crap, these women are hi-larious! I am only sorry that the brief time I spent chatting with Jillian (and husband Sam) was mostly taken up with discussing the most efficient ways to take one's own life. Not efficient, but the "Hutchens" is still my method of choice.

Seth, Adrian, and Chris Ware hunker down and greet their fans. Boy, that was a crazy line. I hope everyone who wanted to meet them got a chance. It was hectic. And I gotta say, everyone was gracious enough to sign extra hours in the hope that all the fans got a dedication. Chester signed for 5 hours each day. He was still signing on Sunday when the show had been shut down and we were packing boxes around him.

Oh, and Julia is wearing a modified Rodarte dress.

The man, Chester Brown. I didn't realize that he was gracing each book with an either clothed or naked version of himself. Evidently, he felt funny about drawing himself naked in the library though and stopped.


Missed it. Tom Spurgeon interviews Chris Ware. I can only assume there will be a well-filmed version of this available soon enough. Please!

Joe Ollmann and Pascal Girard back to work. Oh, who is that in the background? Just Chester Brown entering his third signing hour.

And on this side, Brecht Evens awakes and begins to dip his brush. Brecht and I had a funny conversation Sunday night after the show. He picked up a copy of The New Yorker and remarked that his parents always subscribed and when he went off to art school he decorated his walls with his favorite covers for inspiration. I told him I did something similar except it was with X-men comics because my family only subscribed to Yankee magazine. Mother , Father, what have you done to me!!! {I do know how to make a really good chowder.}

Do not rush the master.

Man, Chester is great. He signed and chatted for hours. I swear he would talk to people for as long as they wanted. It was nerve-wracking back in that signing line but once you got to him, you had his full attention.

Chris tried to sneak a picture of Peg which is almost impossible because SHE IS ALWAYS MOVING. Dress by Daryl K.

Kate Beaton (new Hark! A Vagrant book coming out in a couple of months!!!) meets Chris Ware (secret 12,000 page diary never to be reprinted ever). It was a moment.

Joe Ollmann regales us with a delightfully convoluted shaggy dog story about parenting and alcoholism and working in a box factory. Well, Julia is delighted. Pascal has heard this story several times by now and Chris is just being polite. Right after this, the waiter asked for his uniform back.

Tom Spurgeon, you are a liar!! You had dinner with Brecht. You sat next to him. Never again will I agree to your stipulation that "I need my own bottle of Veuve Clicquot."

Aaaw, best buds. Conundrum Press publisher Andy Brown (wearing the suit his father was married in) and Joe Ollmann pre-Doug Wright Awards.

I really like this part of the Doug Wright Awards where all the nominees get up on stage. It's sweet. I also like the part where someone reads a tribute to the winner and the winner has to stand there while they tell them how awesome they are. I am not joking right now.

Bob Sikoryak is always game. Here we see him live-drawing the whole ceremony. The best part of this is that he was asked half an hour before. The second best part is that he drew Garfield.

I'm pretty sure this picture is floating around on the internet. Look at these kids. Remember when the Hernandez Brothers wore their pants too high?!?! Remember?

Seth interviews iconic Canadian cartoonist David Boswell. If you are of a certain age Reid Fleming is one of THE important comics from the 80s. Along with Flaming Carrot, it defined a whole type of surrealist humor that was pervasive in our culture then. It was especially satisfying to see about 30 Boswell family members in the audience that night.

Pascal Girard accepts his award for the English version of Bigfoot. I don't remember what he said but he said it with that cute Quebecois accent of his. By the way, did you know that Quebec is located in NORTH AMERICA!! True!

Awards raconteur Seth and Pascal. "Pascal, hold the award a little higher. Now smile slightly. EYEBROWS UP! Perfect." Okay, Seth, take it easy. You can't do it all.

DWA chief Brad Mackay sporting his blazer that Seth was still taking in the darting moments before he took the stage. Please picture Seth wetting thread with his tongue and threading a needle while Brad rehearses his opening speech. He is holding a copy of the the Jack Layton parody comic based on Chester's Paying For It! Look, Americans, trust me this is some trenchant Canadian political humour. Oh, go back to your Osama bobbleheads!!!

Post-DWAs. There was a lot going on here and now Don McKellar and I are best friends. Also, there was a very heated argument about the merits of the movie Annie which Brad deemed not enough like the comic. {Personal note to Jeet: please let your daughter enjoy this film and show her the comics when she's 10 or 12. DO NOT FORCE THIS ISSUE!} I would also like to point out that I talked about the Doug Wright Awards without mentioning that it was the single filthiest awards ceremony I have ever seen. How was it possible for every single nominated comic to feature an exposed penis? And what were the odds that I would hear the word "chlamydia" during an introduction at a comic event.

Joe Ollmann, Pascal Girard. They are like a great comedy team together these two. They are like Grodin and Deniro in Midnight Run! That classic.

Pascal turns and Joe's true feelings about that award SITTING RIGHT THERE ON THE TABLE are shown.

Dave Collier and his son James. I almost forgot that the previous night at the DWAs, when his name was called Dave (in uniform) lept from his seat, ran across the tops of the chairs and jumped onto the stage. He is our Benigni.

John P. and his camera crew. Hey, wait a minute. They didn't interview me!!! I like how they made John stand near the plants because he is as they said "A nature boy."

"I like the one where the old guy dies."

Didja know that Don McKellar wrote the Ed the Happy Clown screenplay years ago? Nor did I. Don and I have some hilarious ideas for next year's awards. I'll keep you posted.

Zach Worton gets down to business.

Look, everybody, TCAF is the show to beat right now. Great location. Wonderfully run. Tons of attendees and lots of money being spent at the booths. They are really bringing in great guests, they have great volunteers, a fun awards show, and it takes place in the greatest country in the world (I'm not a citizen yet, gimmie a break here.) Thanks to Peter and Chris and Andrew and Nathalie (and Amanda and Jason and others I will forget to list -- sorry.) Amazing people, all.

Oh, I will leave you with this hilarious photo that Adrian Tomine took. The funny thing is that it was a lively dinner but Adrian captured the weariest moment imaginable.


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