- You know that I’m earnest about that comment because the trip out was crazy and weird. On the ride out, we decided to stop halfway and get a motel room. Being thrifty, we split a two bed single and Bela snored so bad that I had to go sleep on the bathroom floor with the door closed and the sink running. The next day Bela was almost rent asunder by a pack of pit bulls at a rest stop. (If I’m lyin’ I’m flyin’)
- Anyways… travel tribulations aside, the record show itself went off without a hitch.
- The event was hosted at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, which is a lovely venue. Three walls of just plain glass and steel give it amazing natural lighting.
- In previous years I guess it had been in the Armory building in Manhattan. I’m glad it was this year, I thought the Armory was uncomfortable when I tabled at MoCCA a couple of years back.
- I didn’t know what to expect from my fellow exhibitors at the record show. Sometimes record jerks can be weird and territorial. For the most part that wasn’t the case, and everybody was friendly. Some dealers offered me comics for records trades, was pretty cool.
- The other thing I was worried about was spending more than I made at the show, but I did a pretty good job of not busting the bank by buying too many records. A lot of stuff was “fair priced” and just flat out of my price range. I scored some cool 7”s, most of which will end up being custom picture sleeve projects. There were some comic related purchases to be had too, I bought a cool T-Shirt with a Gary Panter black cat drawing/logo and a stack of Mary Fleener comics.
- A personal highlight was meeting Miriam Linna from Norton Records. My contact with her over the years has been purely business related, buying stuff for my old shops, and so kind of dry. She was terrifically friendly in person. (There’s a better word than friendly. Bubbly sounds dopey but that’s the one that comes to mind.) She really liked the custom picture sleeves I’ve been doing and bought four of them!
- Miriam also introduced me to author/poet Tiger Moody, who seems pretty cool. I bought his book on Norton’s Kicksville imprint and plan on reading it on the bus to work in the coming weeks.
- Also at the Norton table, I met Avi Spivak, the great artist behind Norton’s Kicksville Comic Book from a few years ago. He seemed real open to doing some with Nix in the future, so cross your fingers!
- So how did the show go for me? It was the first time I ever did an out of town show with a significant table fee and came away in the black financially, that’s how! I was prepared for it to go the other way, but instead got some small evidence that I have correctly identified my audience and that they are not all broke-ass rock and roll scoundrels.
- Toronto is a huge city, like NYC or Chicago… Except that the streets are cleaner and the people are more congenial. (Plenty of hustle bustle, but you don’t have to have your elbows out to get around.)
- Kate and I explored a bunch of the city on foot on Friday… i.e. we hit the close by record stores. Sonic Boom on the edge of China Town is pretty famous and had mostly new stuff. I walked out with a few things, including the Bear Family Records reissue of the Jerry Lee Lewis live at the Star Club LP, which I haven’t been able to score anywhere in the US, but mostly Boom had stuff I could get here in Columbus. Rotate This Records on Queen Street was more up my alley with a bunch of used punk and garage LPs.
- Yes, I spent more on records in Toronto than I did at the WFMU record show. Poor planning on my part.
- I really liked that there were a lot of older two and three story buildings still in use and pretty little residential streets interspersed among the blocks of big city skyscrapers. We stayed on a cute little street loaded with brick building charm, but it was only four blocks away from the Library and giant Marriott that hosted TCAF.
- Yep. TCAF is held right in the downtown public reference library and is free to the public. How cool is that!? Probably the best thing about that is that it leads to a really diverse attendance. I saw representative attendees of any social status, age or gender I can think of. Presumably there were people of all level of interest in comics, from rabid fans to random off the street looky-loos.
- The Friday night kick-off event was a celebration of 25 years of the Toronto based publisher, Drawn and Quarterly featuring a panel with Jillian Tamaki, Jason Lutes, Seth, Adrian Tomine and Lynda Barry.
- The panel was very “yay us” in tone, which would be off putting if one-and-all panel artists and D&Q didn’t deserve to pat themselves on the back for their accomplishments.
- Newsflash: Seth and Lynda Barry are hilarious.
- The biggest difference between TCAF and the American comic shows and festivals that I’ve attended is the emphasis on programming. Even at the artsier events like PSX or MoCCA, the programming seems to run second to the showroom floor. In the program for TCAF the showroom info took up 3 pages of info and maps, and nearly twice that went to program descriptions. The program read more like a university’s course catalog than anything else.
- I started my Saturday by attending the panel discussion on subscription publishing with Box Brown, Ryan Sands, Tom Kaczynski, and Lianne Sentaur which was hosted by Brigid Alverson. It was a productive way to spend my morning as I’m not super happy with how my previous subscription efforts for Nix Comics have worked. The panel gave me some great tips, I thought.
- My plan was to rush over from the subscription panel held in the Mariott to the Library so I could take part in the workshop on creating a zine/mini comic. Not something that I need a workshop for, but I had the bug and wanted to try and make something at the show. My plan was foiled when I accidentally barged into the right room for the workshop at the wrong time. By the time the session was ended there was already a long line for the workshop I had planned on attending.
- The session I did attend was a Q&A with first Second editor Mark Siegel about artists and writers submitting work to publishers. While that’s not something I personally plan on doing any time soon, I was too embarrassed to up and leave once I got in. Siegel had a very soothing tone and gave the young hungry mob in the room some pretty good straight answers about what they should be doing to get published.
- Said howdy to John Porcellino who introduced me to Julie Doucet right before they were interviewed as part of a session. I really respect both of them as model DIY artists and so that was a treat.
- Later in the afternoon, Kate and I hit the showroom floor, which was really crowded. So crowded that it was hard to find/get to individual artists even armed with the floorplan in the program. (Both Kate and I wanted to meet Liz Prince, but couldn’t figure it out.)
- It was too crowded for the Library’s AC to keep up with the collective body heat of the attendees. The first floor in particular was pretty sweaty.
- After telling myself to keep my spending paced, I was pretty much out of money by the time I hit the second floor.
- That wasn’t entirely a self control issue. I was expecting the merchandise at tables to be a little more like SPX… Evenly distributed between higher ticket items like graphic novels and cheaper things like minis and single issues. I had planned to buy mostly the latter. Most tables had more of the former.
- Makes sense given that graphic novels at $15-25 a pop can make up for travel and table fees a lot more quickly than $1-5 comic issues. I just wish I had saved up a little better in the weeks leading up to TCAF. (As it is, I’m home and dying for this Friday’s pay day.)
- As much as I enjoyed going as a fan, I’ll probably keep applying to table at TCAF. It seemed like behind the table was a good place to be at this show.