Back From TCAF (A Disjointed Report)
Despite all this, TCAF was wonderful, and will likely be a treasured memory for a long time, if I have a long time left in me. We didn't do very well at the table, but the table was always busy, and the folks who came by were great to talk to and sign books for. A lot of enthusiasm for the Beasts of Burden series, I sold very few copies mainly because folks had them or were waiting for the trade. Which is good to hear, even if you're hoping to move books to help with gas and hotel costs. In general, I know the artsier events don't flush out folks with a lot of cash for original art, and I also am more than aware of the fact that I don't have new books with me at most shows these past few years, which hurts sales. And TCAF 2010 had such a murderer's row of name cartooning talent - Clowes, Woodring, Sturm, Seth, Chester Brown, Roger Langridge, Paul Pope, Kate Beaton, Jay Stephens, Jim Rugg, Paul Rivoche, etc, etc, name yer particular poison(s) -- I mean, I know where I'd be spending my dough if I was walking the aisles (and didn't have a sweet deal with my local comic shop_. Wilson was there, Weathercraft, all sorts of nifty minis and oddball items and crafts and shirts were on display in my own general set-up area that I'd have gone for if this was a different time, place, economy, career.
I never even got to walk the floor(s), owing to how busy we were with folks at the table, and talking to other cartoonists/friends who stopped by or who I ran into while doing this or that. I was so busy on Saturday that I wasn't able to finish our table set-up and price everything until nearly the end of the day, preventing me from doing sketches. Sunday was pretty moribund for the first few hours, I left for a panel and when I got back things had picked up slightly, but our own business was dead until they started letting folks know the show would be shutting down in an hour. We had a small flurry of sales during the last hour as folks made their final decisions. The craft items Sarah made did quite well, we sold most of the Devil Puppets we had, and wholesaled our unsold buttons and magnets to Chris Butcher for The Beguiling -- so, we're completely out of those until we order more for Heroes Con. The only walk-around I was able to do during the event was late on Saturday, when I went to the 2nd floor to find a less-crowded men's room. I basically started to fade at that point, and I was afraid I was going to pass out for a little while -- I was feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, not eating the entire day save for a cookie and some water, and about seven hours non-stop talking. Things got blurry and my mouth went bone-dry and I started swaying a bit in my chair. Yeesh. Anyway, stumbling around allowed me to see a few tables, but I never got to do the walkabout I had hoped for. Usually a sign of a swell show. Anyway, I didn't conk, although I did sit in the "green room" for a while with my head on my knees while it stopped spinning around a bit. I ate breakfast on Sunday and the day went without a real hitch, although my voice was breaking. Folks -- remember to eat during shows. At least when you get a little older and the youth energy fades.
I'm bouncing around here, didn't actually intend to do a "full" report or anything of the sort. So, as it comes to me, here's the odds and ends of a crazy but nifty weekend: Arrived Thursday, expecting to see Toronto a bit on Friday, then get back to the hotel and finish some work. The weather was lousy with gloom, blustery winds and rain, we got caught in lousy construction traffic, and all we ended up doing was driving around the Annex environs to look for parking and an affordable place to eat. Ended up back in the hotel earlier than expected/desired and did some slow, feeble work on some unfinished sketches. Liked our hotel, a historic building with an old-fashioned gated elevator. We hadn't been online for a day or so, when we connected on Friday evening there was a message from TCAF about exhibitors loading in that night, checking in, etc. Based on prior con experience, we figured I'd best load in that night, rather than dead-early the next morning, because we were tired and the show opened earlier than usual at 9 am, owing to the Toronto Library hours. I assumed we needed to get badges and whatnot, as well. So, I go out in the pouring rain to take our stock to the library. There was supposed to be parking on side streets, and they asked folks not to block the loading areas at the library. So like a good scout I didn't unload in front of the library and go park. I couldn't find a legal spot close by, and wasn't sure where to load in, so I walked the eight or so blocks to make sure where I needed to take stuff. It was raining hard and I didn't want to take the stock, and then have to waltz around with it getting soaked. Stupid me, all-around, over-worrying as usual. I could have just stopped the car and unloaded, minor soaking, but over and done. I walked there, walked back, loaded the handtruck with boxes in the rain, they fell as I secured them, the wind blasted the umbrella, and the plastic cover blew off the boxes as I walked. A bastard in a truck almost mowed me down, didn't stop even though I had the right of way. The rain got worse, by the time I got inside the library I was soaked, the stock boxes were soaked. Peter Birkmoe from the Beguiling helped me dump everything out before the water creeped to reach them. I was dripping. Oy.
I ended up going across the street to The Pilot to dry off before heading back to my car in the rain. The Pilot was the bar where people would be spending some time after the Clowes talk, which I missed out of stupidity and tiredness and the assumption I wouldn't be able to nab a ticket. Anyway, this turned out to be fortuitous because I met up with Robin McConnell of the Inkstuds there, as well as Jim Woodring, who I hadn't spoken to in person in perhaps15 years. So, ducking out of the rain allowed me to talk to some great folks for a while. I gushed at Jim Woodring and heard some cool stories before he took off, then jawboned with Robin a while, and Chris Butcher, before realizing it was late and I needed to be up early. Robin walked me to my car after I got some donuts at Tim Horton's. I liked the maple iced, Sarah didn't. Too sweet.
Saturday I already discussed to some degree, busy as heck, crowded, great vibe. I won't name drop too bastardly but I am a fanboy, and I have to admit that unexpectedly finding myself talking to Dan Clowes for quite a long time was a real highlight of the show. I didn't even bring a book to get signed because I figured he'd be swamped and I'd be at the table. I was talking to Jim Woodring (again) and Dan said hello and we just kept talking. It freaked me out. I don't know Dan well at all, but we know some of the same people and blah blah blah. Long story short, it was just swell. We talked kids, cities, comics, people we knew, the CBDLF cruise he missed, TCAF, etc. And on Sunday he drew a picture for Emily in one of her blank Littrle Golden Book sketchbooks. As did Jim Woodring, who also signed her Pupshaw and Pushpaw book, and drew a lovely sketch in my copy of the Frank Book. He also gave me a Lorbo vinyl figure. Are you f'ing kidding me? I felt like a starry-eyed 15-yr old half the time, the other half I felt like an blurry-eyed 55-yr old. It was a goddamned geekfest for me, I'm telling you. Met Paul Rivoche briefly, short catch-up with Roger Langridge, and with Dave Roman, with Peggy Burns, James Sturm, Jeet Heer, Jim Ottoviani, more talking with Robin, catching up with Jay Stephens (who we haven't seen since 1999 when we all lost at the Annie Awards in L.A.), Stephen Manale, Michael Cho (the guy gave me some of his NBM Wash Tubbs volumes, with a drawing -- jeezuz whiz!), JIm Rugg (Rambo 3.5 is INSANE), Dustin Harbin (his newsprint color comics section is GREAT), met Salgood Sam, blah blah blah blah blah. Jay also drew a picture in Emily's 2nd LG sketchbook, which is slowly nearing completion. We may hit the third book at Heroes Con if all goes well. Sheesh!
Emily signed a few copies of Yow!, and gave away some of her business cards, but she mostly played the Ninetndo DS and got balloons and was excited to meet people whose work she liked - Jay, Jim Woodring, etc. Jay gave her a copy of his Welcome to Oddville collection and signed her copy of the Chick and Dee collection Stephen Manale gave us a few years back at MOCCA. A few folks gave us their minis or comics, which I'll try to read asap. People were nice, things went well, save for the soaked boxes and the horrible winds on Saturday which pushed people along the street and turned Sarah's fingers and ears nearly white. At one point the winds caught my portfolio and my drawing board and I was literally pushed like Buster Keaton down the block for about ten feet. The walk back to the hotel was miserable for everyone, Tom Devlin told me he was near a coffee shop when the window blew out. Bloore was cordoned off, baby strollers were blown out of control, signs were falling, tree branches went flying, construction cones -- the big, Dalek-y ones, were flying through the air down the street. It was insane. On Sunday morning there was snow. In May. The earth rightly hates us and wants us all gone. We were so wiped out Saturday evening I just got us a bag of garbage food from a McDonald's down the street and we all felt awful afterwards but were grateful to be inside and fed. Haven't eaten McDonalds in ages and this didn't make us want to break the habit one bit. We stayed in and I didn't do much of anything.
Oh, Sunday I was on a panel with Jeet Heer, Dan Nadel and Seth on comic strip/book reprints, which was recorded and I'll find a link for asap. Or never. Folks said it went well, and I don't think I was too bad, or talked too much, or too stupidly. I enjoyed it, myself, and especially enjoyed the half hour BS session we all had outside the Pilot afterward, where the panel was held. Dirt was dished, and stories were swapped, and I felt like a real comics guy and cartoonist for the first time in a long time. One of the folks, y'know? I don't get thrown together with the artsy crowd often and I won't lie and say it wasn't a lot of goddamned fun.
Someone taped the panel, as well, so maybe it'll get posted on video as well as audio. Which reminds me, I also did an interview after TCAF on Sunday, which turned into a half an hour poor man's stand-up routine that I am half-scared will be posted (it will be). I was really punchy and in idiot mode. Kind of like right now, only with cursing and ranting. So, um, yeah. That'll be interesting. To some people.
Sunday night we ate dinner at Clinton's and Peter from the Beguiling sat with us for a spell and Emily talked his head off and then we joined the after-party in the back where I caught up with a lot of the folks mentioned earlier. Oh, and Abbey Denson! Emily likes her band Let's Audio and was happy to meet her. Emily danced some craziness with Dustin Harbin, and she was very happy. He better watch out at Heroes, she's determined to out-do his moves. And she also gave me repeated Buddha's Palm hits in the stomach until she accidentally groined me. These things happen.
This is a mess. TIme to wrap it up.
Only disappointments were not being able to eat at the Japanese restaurant we promised ourselves a meal at, Woodring and I not being able to catch up and bullcrap more as we hoped, not seeing more of Jay, forgetting to take pictures (yet again, I always forget to take pictures at a show), missing the Clowes talk, missing the "heavy-hitters" panel, and no one buying thousands of dollars of art. True, that never happens, but one can dream. Oh, and we only saw one black squirrel, running in front of our car by the Metro market. Emily was stoked to see black squirrels but the weather kind of cramped everyone's style.
Otherwise -- We took some wrong turns on the drive up and the drive back, but they allowed us to see lots of cows and horses which is always welcome, especially as far as Emily's concerned. The car held up fine. Only one drunk driver of any note on the way back, but a doozy, holy heart in throat, nice way to enter the highway, schmuck. We did find a Krispy Kreme franchise in PA on the way back from Toronto, which is still blissfully fueling the HOF. I think I'll go have a kreme-filled and glazed right now before I start on that CCS speech.
Thanks to the folks who stopped by, to Robin, Ted, everyone we met and met again, to Chris Butcher, the volunteers, the guy who karate-kicked the flying construction cone on Bloore St, Peter for helping me with the boxes, to Jim W and Dan and Jay and Stephen and Mike for the great drawings for Emily, to Canada for better junk food and soda with sugar, etc etc. Really wow. If I forgot anything, or anyone, my apologies. A hectic weekend, and I'm still overwhelmed with everything I have to get done in the next few weeks, CCS, 10 pages of Simpsons pencils, the Hellboy crossover script, Heroes Con...oy! I am ska-rewed!
Oh, and to the fella who I did the Pepper sketch for, we have your Archie reference comics, drop me a line so we can get those back to you. And if you're reading this, send us a scan of the sketch, I want a copy!
And hey, belated R.I.P. to the great Frank Frazetta, and the great Lena Horne. I may be a rarity in that I prefer Frazetta's black and white and comics work to the bulk of his paintings, but I was a Frazetta fanboy as a teen, and really appreciated his work and talent and sense of self-worth. Lena Horne never made any comics I liked, but she more than made up for it elsewhere.
Good day to you all.