SORRY it’s been a week since TCAF but we’re raw, where the shot leaves us gagging for the arrow. This year’s official Secret Acres comics mule, Dash Shaw, amazingly did not want to kill us after we spent the better part of the ride up arguing about the existence of Bigfoot (or Bigfoots, or Bigfeet?). Casey Gonzalez, popping her Acresmobile cherry, insisted there are at least eight hundred of the hairy things living in the suburbs of Toronto or somesuch. Dash thought this far less interesting than the possibility of alien intelligences. At some point, while Casey claimed all kinds of evidence of Bigfeet, like the accidental killing of a baby Bigfoot by a hunter who failed to produce a body, we completely missed our to turn to Syracuse and drove all the way to Albany. So we had to get gas, and then we ran into the Breeders. There are many versions of what happened next and here they are:
“I was gassing up the Acresmobile, which is this big, thirsty SUV type of thing, when Sean started screaming my name. It takes a while to fill ‘er up, so I didn’t go running right away. I got the receipt (because I like giving Barry the receipts for stuff even though he tells me not to if it’s something that’s going on the company card, but he gets really mad when I do it and it’s funny to me) and moseyed over. Sean and Casey and Dash were talking to a bunch of people carrying their rest stop bags and Sean was furiously beckoning. I looked and thought, ‘Huh. That lady looks a lot like Kim Deal.’ Then Casey pulled me over and said to me and the woman next to me, ‘He didn’t get to go to the Bell House show, but he’s driving us up to Toronto.’ Then the woman next to me said, ‘Give us your names and and we’ll put you on the list.’ I couldn’t speak because I was sure she was Josephine Wiggs, which meant that the other lady was indeed Kim Deal, and that these were the Breeders and that Sean was giving Kim a copy of Only Skin and that Jim Macpherson was waving at me from their van. I think I squeaked out a thank you. In retrospect, I was really happy about the Bigfoot bullshit.”
“Earlier in the drive up to Toronto, we’d been discussing what it’d be like to see Bigfoot. Was such a thing even possible? Would it just be kind of lame seeing a big, hairy person? Why waste time thinking about the existence of such a thing at all? I like to believe in the possibility of such things, but when I think about it too much, it makes me sad. It makes me worry there’s no mystery or magic in the world and that we hold onto these myths as some vague way of hoping there might be. Meeting the Breeders at a gas station in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York and getting to shake Kim Deal’s hand precisely because we’d missed a turn (We actually missed the turn while we were talking about Bigfoot. (Okay, actually violently arguing about bigfoot.)) and driven 100 miles out of our way was sort of like losing our way on a hike and happening upon a Bigfoot, a giant squid and a great white shark chilling at a waterfall or something. And it allowed me to continue to labor under the hope or illusion or sweet lie that all the mistakes and regrets and stupid decisions that lead you far out of your way can somehow lead you to the exact right place at the exact right moment and crystallize into weird magic. Maybe there is mystery. Maybe there is a reason to hold on to some tiny sliver of hope when every single sign says otherwise. It was also a good reminder of why going to TCAF is something to treasure – a room of Bigfoots and werewolves and other mystical beasts and moments of magic surrounded by a forest of comics. Or something. Anyway. I’m sure that sort of awkward meeting happens to the Breeders all the time, but they were very kind about it and gave us tickets to see them play in Toronto (where of course they were going, too), cementing their status forever in my mind as some of the coolest people on the planet. And it gave me an excuse to buy their box set, so I have something to play on my record player while i’m boring people with this story when I’m sixty-four. Thanks, breeders. <3″
“Gorgeous badass Josephine Wiggs put me ‘on the list’. I haven’t felt so alive since the time RuPaul retweeted me.”
“They were nice. Kim Deal said she liked my pants.”
There you have it. So we threw Casey under the bus and made her deal with the border stuff, while we read the Canadian newspapers in the waiting room and discussed whether or not Dash looked too creepy for the border guards (and he doesn’t) and Leon looked like a wrestler (and he doesn’t). Despite the wrong turns and glorious run-ins with superheroes like the Breeders, we made it to Toronto in time for the first night of festivities at the Pilot, which hasn’t happened in years. And we found Theo and Edie and Joe and Brendan and everyone else, so we were looking pretty good on that count.
Saturday we had that panel first thing in the morning, on the State of the Small Press. Earlier that night, we’d grabbed the programming director and made it known that we were adding Matt Moses, the Hic and Hoc guy to our bill. It was totally fun having Annie Koyama, Austin English, Bill Kartolopoulos, Jordan Shiveley and Matt at the same table. Hopefully, the audience had as much fun as we did – and thanks, folks, for showing up early for our little panel party, even though we had no video and moderator Andrew Murray had to scramble with about twenty-four hours notice that he was hosting.
For the first time, this was a big TCAF complaint, that the programming stuff was fraught with issues, technical and otherwise. We’re glad it wasn’t just us. The only other panel we caught was Tom “Papa Bear” Devlin’s with Viz’s Fawn Lau, the superdapper Chip Kidd and last minute addtion, Jim Rugg. Tom actually gave us a shoutout for our design skills after we reminded him of the title of the Oliver East book he was admiring (which was Swear Down). Tom even called out Gilbert Hernandez for his cover art skills, which, damn, Tom. But Gilbert’s cover looks awesome, so Tom wins again. He always wins. He never loses.
Back on the floor, we were next to Tom and Drawn and Quarterly, who were totally ripping off Paul Levitz’s swag with their corporate logo denim jackets. That really happened. We really got killed at this spot. Chester Brown‘s signing line was right in our grills. We probably should’ve just sold the copies of the Playboy that people kept trying to buy from us. It wasn’t too bad, though. Capacity 8 got out of the box nicely and Theo Ellsworth is a good defense against crappy sales. We sure did spend a ton, though. Like rent money kind of money.
Saturday night had folks doing their best impressions of the Exorcist. It was all dancing, romancing, puking, crying, laughing, schizo nonsense from our gang. While we did catch the Breeders playing the entirety of Last Splash, we missed Tom Spurgeon singing Bette Midler. On the other hand, we had a romantic evening playing porn trivia with Chris Pitzer. It’s okay to be jealous.
Sunday was family dinner with Annie Koyama and the kids, followed by the TCAFter party at Lee’s Palace. It was there we finally got it up to talk to Gengoroh Tagame. We even shook his hand. It was tempting to tell him what we do with that hand while holding his book in the other, but that seemed a little TMI. Finally, it was a topless man singing fun. over our attempts to talk MoCCA shop with Charles Brownstein that got us dawdling to bed.
Our entire crew went on a three mile walk around Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood on our way across the street for breakfast Monday morning. This is the Curse of the Cartoonist. They are compelled to stand on street corners for at least two hours before anyone can make a decision. So we ate the Last Breakfast together, left Theo in the hands of Fantagraphics and Robin McConnell who swore to see him to the airport, and hit the road.
We screamed at each other on the way about the rumblings at the top of the indie comics Mt. Olympus. It’s tempting to dish on all this, but we’re small fry and they’re gods. Some of that thunder’s already sounded in the sudden demise of our beloved Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Anyhow, we like each other, or super-like each other (Are we post or post-post alternatives?) and we’re hopeful something will rise from those ashes. Who knows, it might even be CAKE.
We’ll be back in a bit with the details on the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo. We’ll even have a debut for that show, namely this guy. Speaking of Chicago, hats off to Eamon Espey, whose Ishi’s Brain show tour wrapped up at the aptly named Brain Frame last night. Now we’re gonna cut a record with Brendan Leach and listen to it. You’ll be hearing the sound of Ironbound soon enough.
Barry and Leon
P.S. – We totally stole that picture of Edie and Tagame from these guys. Sorry, guys. If you want us to take it off, just yell at us. Thanks!