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The Upstairs Room

SPLITTING up the country meant our Toronoto Comic Arts Festival odyssey began with shipping stock from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, a red eye to Long Island (where our beloved wagon resides), a drive to Brooklyn for our comics mule, gear and books, and a drive up over the border into Toronto. We know. Everyone deals with this. The luck of New York’s centrality to the indie comics circuit spared us for years, but we feel your pain now, fellow indie comics peeps. That said, we got into the library and set up a quad stack of our big debut, the Academic Hour, all before closing time on Friday night, all without a hitch, and still in time for poutine and a couple of Blue Hawaiians with our lady of the evening, Keren Katz. So there.

Location, location, location means more at TCAF. We’ll cop to handwringing about our new second floor digs. We sold more downstairs, certainly. OTOH, given the work to get there, it’s pretty frickin’ comfortable upstairs. Exchange rate or no, we did well. Interesting tidbit about the upstairs room: it reversed our sales flow, with Sunday being the bigger day. Makes sense to us. TCAF’s enormous; why not split floors by day?



Keren ran a marathon. She started with a panel, “Expressive Lines And The Power of Restraint,” which went easy on the restraint part. Keren erases the lines between imagination and reality, making her something of a practical joker IRL. She started drawing on enormous boards to get the attention of the hot guy she watched from her window. Someone carved her school out of a mountain with a fifth floor lower than the third floor. She worked as an air traffic controller in the army. Okay. We listened to Hellen Jo assassinate Micron pens (and we agree that they suck) and discoverd she’s cool with OCD inking making her art stiff, because, hey, it wouldn’t be Hellen otherwise. Ron Rege, Jr., whose Skibber Bee-Bye altered our worlds, hipped us to Paul Laffoley, whose work Ron used to copy at a print shop in the Old Days. Consider the throughline from Laffoley to Rege to Fake to Jacobs, etc. Ms. Katz followed that with a stand up routine at R. Sikoryak‘s “Carousel: Cartoon Slide Shows and Picture Performances,” and capped it off with a book shrinking workshop on Sunday morning. Keren’s performance on the floor sent us back home with no copies left of the Academic Hour. Let love rule.



TCAF 2017 taught us how to go broke in sixty hours or less. Our gang obsessed over the Palace of Champions by Montreal’s local legend Henriette Valium. Juliacks dropped a brick of beauty with Architecture of an Atom. We scored a stack of minis from TCAF table bunky, cinemaniac Jordan Jeffries. MegaDILF Joe Ollman sketched out our copies of his latest, the Abominable Mr. Seabrook, while double-timing D&Q and Conundrum. Swimmers Group, Toronto locals who publish AND print all their stuff, our darlings of the show, snuck a whole new Matt Thurber (!) comic into our haul. Koyama surprised us with the placemat-sized Placeholders from graphomania sufferer, Michael Deforge, along with the new Eleanor Davis and Jesse Jacobs – who had TWO graphic novels at TCAF, the latter of which we completely missed.

Speaking of missing, we hardly had time to hang out. We squeezed some hugs and hellos out of Chris Pitzer, Kevin Czap, both Spurgeons, a Shiveley and Mickey Z. We got a drink with Jamie Tanner, the first person we approached about publishing, who told us to go to hell and we’ve been pals ever since. We dined, post-show, with the Koyamas and a guest appearance from the aforementioned Eleanor and Drew Weing. We skipped the Dougies, because they’re racist, but we will attend if we ever go full Canuck. Annie threatened to ditch, too, but as Koyama was celebrating its tenth birthday, she didn’t dare. She told us someone threatened  her with a roast instead of an honor, which scared her. The Dougies roasted her, anyway, and we feel crappy for missing it, but we did see the new Beguiling and spent a fortune there. Happy tenth, Koyama!



Generally, returning to the former home of the brave presents no problems. This year, thanks to President Shitgibbon, our exit featured the makings of a loaded, lesbian romcom. Keren, as you know, showed up on a visa from Israel. Our TCAF 2017 comics mule, a self-confessed fangirl who happens to be a queer Muslim activist, rightfully worried about getting home to the USA, citizen or not. These concerns sicken us, but a queer Mulsim activist and an Irsraeli artist stuck in Toronto without country makes a for a good round of jokes. Godspeed, Keren!



As for Candian milestones, we signed our first legit Canadian cartoonist this past weekend. Next TCAF, we’ll have that book and we’ll do the Dougies. CAKE, the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo happens in about a month, so we’ll return with deets on our impending trip to the windy city. Meanwhile, we promised a sneak peek our fall season, when Secret Acres turns ten years old. We plan to celebrate our birthday bash by bringing back bad boy Michiel Budel, with bad bitch Francine. Brace yourself.

Your Pals,

Leon and Barry

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