Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

« Previous | Main | Next »

Toronto Comic Arts Festival To Animate Toronto Reference Library

May 3, 2012 | Ab. Velasco | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Over 300 artists from around the world will gather at the 2012 Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), hosted again at Toronto Reference Library this weekend: Saturday, May 5 (9 am to 5 pm) and Sunday, May 6 (11 am to 5 pm).

The festival will kick off with an opening night event - featuring Jeff Smith, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá on Friday, May 4, 7 pm, at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library.

This year's event has a truly international flavour, with representation from five continents – including guests from across Canada, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and more.

Featured guests include Alison Bechdel, Guy DelisleKate Beaton, Kazu Kibuishi, Bryan Lee O’Malley. Jeff Smith will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his acclaimed series Bone.

Attendees can meet their favourite artists - and enjoy free readings, workshops, and art installations. The organizers have also put together a fantastic line up of programming.

For the first time, Toronto Public Library will also be a TCAF exhibitor. So please drop by our table on the main floor to learn more about our collections, programs and services.

Here’s the key information you need to know for the weekend:

A Wonderful Partnership Between Library and Community

Held every May, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is the largest comics event of its kind in Canada. The Reference Library has hosted TCAF since 2009 and in 2011, welcomed 15,000 guests.

Attendees have raved about the library and TCAF partnership.

“I love libraries and love that people are coming in off the street and seeing stuff that they would not see otherwise,” said longtime Neil Gaiman collaborator Charles Vess, when he attended TCAF in 2010, from Virginia.

New Zealander and The Muppet Show artist, Roger Langridge said during TCAF 2010: “The comics industry is in a place where it really needs to reach out to the public a lot more. The library seems like the ideal place to do that.”

UK-based artist Marc Ellerby raved: “England has a lot to learn from shows like TCAF.”

A Chat with TCAF’s Festival Director

As we gear up for TCAF 2012, I chatted with Festival Director Christopher Butcher to reflect on the library’s partnership with the festival – and to find out what he’s looking forward to at this year’s event.

How did the TPL partnership come about – and why did you choose the Reference Library as your current home for TCAF?

One of the hallmarks of TCAF is that, each year we've launched it, we've immediately outgrown our space. In the planning for our 2007 show, we had considered extending our programming and partnership relationship with TPL into working together to put together TCAF and holding at Toronto Reference Library.

Ultimately we decided to hold it at Victoria College on the University of Toronto campus for 2007, but we let TPL know what we were thinking and to come down and check us out. They were quite happy with the event, as were we, and while we did outgrow Old Vic on that first year we're quite pleased that TRL has grown and changed to accommodate us at the general public from 2009 onward.

TCAF has called the Reference Library home for three years now. What have been some of your favourite memories from the past three years?

Probably my favourite moments are when our artists and exhibitors enter the space for the first time, and then look up, and realize that this isn't going to be the sort of "convention" that they're used to. I love having that conversation with artists.

Conversely, I love it when regular library customers encounter the Festival in the library for the first time, and they're shocked and amazed and the smile creeps across their face. It's a cool thing to see in the library - book culture, arts culture, come to life.

TCAF demonstrates a great partnership between the public library and the community. What factors do you attribute to the success of this model?

I think that we're fortunate that we went into doing TCAF with ideals that dovetailed with TPL's own; we both serve the community, we both promote books, literacy, and book culture, and we're both about actively engaging the general public with ideas and services that they might not have considered.

Our success is ultimately in the hands of our exhibitors, and we've been fortunate to have some great ones over the years. We've put hundreds of artists and creators in front of tens of thousands of members of the public since 2009, and they've been outstanding ambassadors for the medium.

What are some of the things you're looking most forward to at this year's TCAF?

Well, we're doing a day of educator and library programming that I'm going to try and take in on the Friday, and I think that's going to be pretty awesome all things considered.

I don't usually get to catch much of what's going on during the days of the Fest, mostly catching evening and off-site programming like our Friday night kick-off, and our Saturday, Sunday, and Monday presentations.

This year though there are going to be so many brilliant cartoonists at TCAF making once-in-a-lifetime appearances, I'm really trying to plan some free time to meet them.

The Reference Library is undergoing a revitalization. What role do you think this building plays in the life of our city?

I deal with hundreds of creative people a year coming from abroad specifically at my invitation, and I invite them all into TRL and into TCAF. I couldn't be prouder of the flagship location of our library system, and they in turn are duly impressed by the building, by what it represents, and TPL and TRL's willingness to partner with an arts festival like TCAF.

Toronto Reference Library is a landmark, and the revitalization just improved upon every aspect of what the library has to offer.


Special events animate library branches all year round. Go behind the scenes of our events. Enjoy recaps, interviews, photos and watch videos. Get the insider's scoop on stuff that's coming up.