Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Toronto Comic Art Festival 2007!

This was Patrick and I's first year attending the Toronto Comic Art Festival at the Old Victoria College building on the University of Toronto campus. The festival, held every other year, boasted appearances from top-notch creators such as Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim), Hope Larson (Salamander Dreams), Stuart Immonen (Nextwave), Paul Pope (100%), James Jean (Fables covers) and Darwyn Cooke (DC: The New Frontier), among many, many others. Toronto is a beautiful city and I urge anybody with the opportunity to visit its streets. There were plenty of bookstores along the popular Bloor Street where we stayed, including a newer comic book store, The Labyrinth, which had walls of art books and plenty of graphic novels and manga, but no floppies, which was a nice concept. Of course, Toronto is also the home of the world-famous The Beguiling, which was crammed floor to ceiling with pretty much every conceivable comic or graphic novel that you could ever want to get your hands on, with more of a focus on alternative comics than the superhero stuff.

The Toronto Comic Art Festival itself was held across two floors of the Old Victoria building with a tent outside with kiddy events, and parties pretty much every night over the weekend. There were plenty of creators on-hand selling their wares, plus innovative publishers like :01 First Second Books (with absolutely fantastic prices on their graphic novels) and Picture Box (who debuted Brian Chippendale's long-awaited Maggots). There were plenty of interesting panels worth attending, a refreshing concept in wake of Wizard World Chicago.

The first panel that we attended was Peter Maresca's panel on reprinting Sunday strips, in which the audience was treated to the first appearance of the new Sammy Sneeze collection from Winsor McCay and the oversized Walt and Skeezix Sunday collection was ogled by many. Maresca announced that in the works was an anthology series project that collected different Sundays together in their original oversized dimensions, a sort of best-of that would begin with The Yellow Kid and incorporate works that he's gotten requests to reprint, such as Polly & Her Pals and The Kinder Kids. Its sounded very exciting, as you can imagine.

There were other great panels, of course, but the other one that we attended that stood out for me was Paul Gravett's spotlight, where he went through a brief history of British comics in wake of the release of his book, Great British Comics. It was an interesting history, and I'm sure the book is pretty illuminating. Gravett said that he would like to do a series of books like this and his manga and graphic novel books, on different subjects including superhero comics and French comics. Very cool.

Patrick and I's purchases include:

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