OUR TRIP began with one Secret Acres publisher remarking that the other Secret Acres publisher was “looking a little HUSKY (emphasis the other publisher, who had just been downgraded from ‘looking quite, uh, solid these days’).” So we left one Secret Acres publisher at home by himself all alone with no one, while the other, huskier, publisher got his Husky Boy™ pants on and heaved and squeezed himself into the big, fat car and up to the inarguably obese Toronto Comic Arts Festival. So, yeah, Husky won that deal and he’s not sweating it, either.
Miraculously, there was still room in the car for Sean Ford and MK Reed. Just as Sean confessed that despite growing up in Connecticut, he’d never liked the UConn Men’s Basketball team because of their name, we got to the border. Everything was lovely as usual until it was time to pay our taxes like the God-fearing Americans that we are. Corporate cards clutched in our pudgy mitts, we were met with, “Och, Brooklyn, eh? An’ jist whaur dae ye hink yoo’re gonnae?” Bonnie lassie MK got to translating, but even our best comics mule got shot down. So we did what everyone does when the going gets tough: we called Annie Koyama and got some coffee. Annie got Peter Birkemoe, Lord of the Beguiling, who, in the middle of setting up the biggest indie comics show ever, took a minute to crack the code of Keptin Kafka of Kanada and gave us us free. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating ad infinitum: bless you, guid folk of TCAF.
Three hours of bureaucracy later, we were back on the road to Toronto. We had reservations about dropping Mrs. Reed at her haunted dorm room ruin but she said it was safe because she saw a thirteen year-old girl working the security desk. Anyway, we left her and found Corinne Mucha at the exquisitely appointed Bloor Marriott. We tried to regale her with our ordeals, but three words in, she said there were already too many lies aleady, and she threw us out. So we went and collected Brendan Leach at the Pilot Tavern, running into pals along the way, each stopping to warn us that Tom Spurgeon was “partying real hard.” Alas, there was no sign of Spurgeon and it was last call at the bar. It was not a good look. Dustin Harbin had been searching Brendan’s pants for his ass all night, so it was an easy sell to get everyone back to our room and in bed by dawn.
Supposedly, the show started at nine on Saturday, but we’re a flexible bunch, so we said 9:30-ish or 10:00-something. We knew we were going to have a good show because we got both our banners up and our location was TCAFrenzyproof. The thing about the books we publish is that folks need a minute to cuddle and cajole them before taking them home. We can’t survive on the main drag of a show with, no joke, ten or twenty thousand people walking by. Put this baby in a corner, please.
This year, we shared a little island with the Conundrum gang, giving us plenty of time to chit chat with Doug Wright Award Winner Joe Ollmann, as he insists we call him. Joe was instrumental in our stalking of Mimi Pond, on the other side of the horde separating us from Drawn & Quarterly and Pascal Girard. Both Pascal and Mimi had new books (and though Joe said this was not Mimi’s first book, we don’t believe him). There was even a great view of the Koyama gang across the aisle with their four book debuts. Conditions were perfect for our own big debut, Get Over It! which was all gone sometime on Sunday. Brendan’s Iron Bound, Sean’s new edition of Only Skin and Edie Fake‘s Memory Palaces were all new to TCAF and all selling in debut-like numbers. We cleaned up. So did everybody else, it seems. Lots of locals and semi-locals drove home to re-stock in the middle of the show. It was pretty overwhelming, so went back to the hotel and watched Now, Voyager during our lunch break.
Sunday, Brendan went to see the Toronto Blue Jays fighting the Angels of Anaheim (ouch) while the rest of us called our mothers because that’s what good kids do on Mother’s Day, Brendan. We did get to our panel on time, sharing the stage with Uncivilized Books, Nobrow and Koyama Press. Evan Munday (sic) kept the laughs coming, but there was this really nice moment after, from Tucker Stone, representing Nobrow. Tucker’s been in the game a long, long time now, decades upon decades, but this was his first shot on a panel as a publisher. He’s our pal, and we’ve worked together on lots of things over the years, so it didn’t occur to us at the time, but that’s a big deal. You don’t forget your first panel as a publisher. Of course, Tucker was wrong about everything. Like every word out of his mouth was ridiculous, but whatever.
And what about those TCAF nights, you ask? There was poutine and endless rounds of Blue Lagoons. It was L Nichols‘ birthday, so wish L a happy one. There was Jamie Tanner and the Spotted Dick or something. There were way too many people asking us if Corinne was single. There was Pitzer and Benton laughing at Sean Ford weeping a single tear at the melancholy sound of a lone jet flying overhead. There was Frank Santoro (who we didn’t even know was at the show until it was over) giving lessons at the dinner table to Gabrielle Bell and Kevin Huizenga. It kinda looked like Frank was playing a shell game with with four little rectangles of paper. Gabrielle kept talking about orgies the whole time. It was weird. And, speaking of Kevin H (who sold us all lots of originals for peanuts, the sucker), did you know he dropped out of Frank’s class because it was too hard? How’s that for an Amazing Fact with Leon Beyond! Still, the TCAF Canoodle Champs have to be Jordan Shiveley and Jessica Underhill, dammit, not at all Jessie Hagemeyer, who got wifed by ambush. It’s a great story and they can tell you if they want to, but we don’t do gossip here at Secret Acres.
On the way out of Toronto there was a parade, apparently sponsored by Uncut Magazine (like we’re gonna link to that) and Rock n’ Roll Eucharist ft/ Johnny Cash (and that’s real). Oh, Canada. You make us blush! We sang baseball carols until MK put Derulo and 2 Chainz on repeat for the last five hours of the ride. We were home in under seven hours, trying to outrun our separation anxiety and failing miserably. We miss everyone.
So come party at our place! Friday, June 13th, at 8PM, we’re bringing both Corinne and sexy back to Bergen Street Comics! You know the drill by now: free beer and bubbly and lots and lots of Get Over It! If you just can’t wait that long and you happen to be in Corinne’s hometown, go check out Edie Fake this very Friday at Quimby’s in Chicago, where he will take you for a walk through the queer streets of the Windy City and into his Memory Palaces. You can read about that book in comics form over at Gapers Block right this instant! You can read about Corinne’s new book all the way down on the Graphic Novel Shelf of Midwest Book Review. It’s not actually in comics, but that’s fine. After TCAF, we need at least thirty-six hours without comics before diving into our foot-high haul.
We’re going to sleep now, but we’ll be back in time for CAKE because we’re HUSKY.
Barry and Husky Boy™