Toronto Comic Arts Festival

Today was a bit of a wasted day for me — I couldn’t sleep last night, so I’ve been running in a pretty low gear. But Mei and I did manage to attend the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which is a really cool, free annual festival run out of the Toronto Reference Library. It runs today and tomorrow (May 8 and 9).

I’m not really into the comic arts myself, but there were a few people I did want to meet:

  • Brandon Bird is a painter who uses pop culture references in little jewel-like tableaux. We bought two of his prints (Sega and High Sea) and chatted for a while; he’s actually younger than I expected, and interesting to talk to. I complimented him on how he uses those pop culture references so effectively, to create these little in-jokes that somehow work for me as a viewer; he said that the difficult part is striking the delicate balance between the reference and the joke. He gets a lot of people saying to him “oh, you know what you should do?” and then listing a bunch of things he should reference all together. His skill really is in his restraint. Anyhow, we’re always on the lookout for new BB paintings and I recommend looking through his collection.
  • Jeph Jacques writes and draws the daily webcomic Questionable Content, which I have been reading for years. It’s a fun little comic, and he seems like a nice guy too. A few years ago, he left his job to write and draw the comic full-time, making up his income with merchandise and advertising. It seems to have worked for him, and I hope he continues with it. I bought a sketch card and chatted with him a little.
  • Jim Munroe is a writer and indie publisher through his company No Media Kings. His blog there is well worth reading for anyone who wants to flog a book out there in the real world; he’s enthusiastic and very driven. He was at the show to promote a couple of graphic novels he’s written lately, but I actually brought a couple of his books and asked him to sign them (which he graciously did). The thing is, he’s a fantastic writer himself. He was snapped up by HarperCollins for his first book, and he was so dissatisfied by the experience that he formed his own company and self-published the rest of his books. He’s got a really tight, readable style that I am actually envious of. Meeting him, he seemed like the kind of guy I would trust to reform the publishing market and lead the charge for the indie publishing approach. I forgot to ask him if he’s writing more novels but I hope he is. I encourage everyone to buy his books.

So it was a fun little outing. If nothing else, it’s great to see a thriving segment of the publishing world, as well as to see crowds of people flock to talk to the artists and buy their stuff. No matter what you hear about the publishing industry, people aren’t going to stop being fascinated by interesting stories, told creatively.

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