Category Archives: TCAF

INSTOCK: Mini-Comics by Yumi Sakugawa

Milk and Moo, There Is No Right Way To Meditate, Intergalactic Telepathic Pen Pal and Other Short Stories, Mundane Fortunes for the Next Ten Billion Years and Other Stories – What do all these titles have in common? They are all wonderful comics created by the talented Yumi Sakugawa. If you’ve never read Sakugawa’s work, now’s a great time to get on board; Mundane Fortunes was recently selected as one of the Notable Comics of 2012 by the Best American Comics anthology editors. Plus, if you start reading her work now, then you’ll be more than ready to chat with this SoCal artist when she comes to TCAF in May! Lots of reasons to love reading new comics! These comics are $5 each, and available on the main floor.

TCAF 2011 Presents: The Second Annual Official TCAFête!

Saturday May 7th, 2011
@ Pauper’s Pup, 539 Bloor St West
$5 Cover/Free for TCAF Exhibitors & Volunteers

Checkit! The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is proud to present the 2nd Annual Official TCAFête!

Do you need somewhere to celebrate after the first day of TCAF? Do you like meeting babes — and I don’t just mean lady babes, but babes of all genders? Comics babes of all genders?

Who doesn’t?! That’s why you’re going to attend the 2nd Annual Official TCAFête! Kick it with us on the 2nd floor of Paupers Pub at 539 Bloor Street West (South side of Bloor just East of Bathurst) to celebrate the first successful day of TCAF 2011! Everyone is welcome because this year’s party is going to be even more off the hook than the last. “How is that even possible?” you ask. That’s because we’ve got DJ NV on the 1s and 2s and there’ll be in-your-face Live Drawing Demos by Michael Deforge, Ray Fawkes, James Stokoe and Kagan McLeod.

DJ NV is known for Soul Sonic Events and his weekly residences at various Queen West venues.
You may have seen Kagan McLeod’s work…everywhere, like the cover of Kill Shakespeare, in the National Post, and in your DREAMS because you’ve been reeling since last year’s demo!
Michael Deforge is The Doug Wright award winning creator of Lose. Lose # 3 will be debuting at TCAF 2011!
Ray Fawkes‘s new book Possessions is currently available with One Soul to be released by ONI Press this summer!
James Stokoe, a Vancouver native, is the creator of the wildly psychedelic Orc Stain!

If you are a Guest, Vendor, Volunteer or Staff at TCAF, there’s no cover. The email address to get your name on guest list is TBA so keep checking back to make sure you get on it. For everyone else, cover is $5. A mere $5 for one of the awesomest events of the season? What a steal! So come to see and be seen amongst your fave comics peeps, your friends from previous TCAF’s, new friends, and maybe even some Toronto b-list celebrities! Sorry young’uns it’s 19+

Invite illustration by Kagan McLeod.

ANNOUCE: TCAFabulous: Queer Comix Mixer!

TCAFabulous! Party and Mixer
Saturday, May 7
6:30pm 9:00pm
Crews & Tangos,
508 Church Street
Admission is FREE

Queer comic book fans unite! Let’s celebrate spandex, gravity defying breasts, inappropriate relationships between men and boys, fishnets, token femme lesbians, ‘it’s not really bondage’ bondage and the muthafuckin’ Dark Phoenix in this evening of queering up some of your favourite comic book pages and images.

Panelists Jose Villarubia (Colorist extraordinaire, The Book of Copulations, Mirror of Love), Maurice Vellekoop (Pin-Ups & A Nut at the Opera), Zan Christensen (Publisher, Northwest Press) and Erika Moen (DAR! & Bucko) will target mainstream comics with their pink optic blasts and expose the hidden (really?) queer in all your favourite comic book characters.

After the show, stay for the mixer! Grab a cocktail, get a book signed and meet other queer comics fans and creators.

Also, TCAF is happy to welcome Northwest Press in their first Canadian comic book festival appearance. Northwest Press is dedicated to publishing the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics and graphic novels including titles like Rainy Day Recess, Glamazonia, Teleny and Camille and more.

Lorenzo Mattotti at TCAF! Review of CHIMERA

Lorenzo Mattotti is coming to TCAF! He will not be back in Toronto any time soon, so this is a rare opportunity to meet this famous and enormously talented European creator. Mattotti will be participating in interviews, panels, discussions and signings at TCAF and this is your chance to really get to know this work.

To celebrate Mattotti’s appearance at TCAF, we are running reviews of his English language books all week. Next up, Chimera!

Title: Chimera
Artist and writer: Lorenzo Mattotti
Published: 2008
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Review by John Anderson

A chimera is a flight of fancy, an incongruous union of ideas. This definition suits Mattotti’s Chimera, which is a wordless dream told in expressionistic black and white. It begins with someone falling asleep under a tree, and follows the dream as it moves from one character to another, encompassing themes of sex, childhood, violence, and spooky rabbits. It begins as predominantly thin black lines on white, and gradually gets darker until it culminates in a walk through a creepy forest in a chaos of thick black lines. This book beautifully captures the phantasmagoric flow of images that occurs in dreams.

Mattotti’s art is incredible. There are panels that are so intricate that I wonder how he had the time to draw so many of them. At 32 mostly wordless pages it’s a very short book, but the imagery, like the panels of a child throwing a toy at a giant, or the panels showing a huge black bird carrying off a rabbit in a rainstorm, will stay with you long after you finish reading. If you like the intense, emotional, sometimes dreamlike artwork Mattotti did for Stigmata, you will love Chimera.

You can find Chimera in store at The Beguiling, or you can buy it online at

Lorenzo Mattotti at TCAF! Review of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

Lorenzo Mattotti is coming to TCAF! He will not be back in Toronto any time soon, so this is a rare opportunity to meet this famous and enormously talented European creator. Mattotti will be participating in interviews, panels, discussions and signings at TCAF and this is your chance to really get to know this work.

To celebrate Mattotti’s appearance at TCAF, we are running reviews of his English language books all week. Next up, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

Title: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Words: Jerry Kramsky
Art: Lorenzo Mattotti
Year: 2003
Publisher: NBM Publishing

Review by John Anderson

What is it about?
This is an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella. It’s a psychological thriller about a scientist who creates a potion that gives form to the dark side of his spirit. Soon Dr. Jekyll is transforming into Mr. Hyde without the potion, and Hyde is committing horrible crimes which Jekyll is powerless to prevent.

Why is it good?
I must confess I haven’t read the original story. This was my first introduction to this famous tale, and quite simply, it is one of the most beautifully illustrated books I’ve ever read. From the first pages showing a monstrous shadow gliding over an expressionistic city, to how Jekyll’s transformation is depicted with a brain impaled with nails, to the end where Jekyll’s twisted and wretched body lies hopeless, Mattotti portrays the psychological horror of Jekyll’s situation like no one else can.

It’s expressionistic in that the inner feelings and drives of the characters are reflected in their physical appearance. Of course this is especially true for Hyde, who is depicted as a hunched, brutish figure with an evil sharklike grin. The bright colours, especially all the reds and blacks, give it an air of violent decadence. And it is disturbing – there are scenes of murder, mutilation and sexual violence, illustrated with a ferocious energy.

Mattotti excels at the more pedestrian scenes too. His ugly, decadent characters resemble those of the German expressionist George Grosz, while his vertiginous architecture reminds me of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I love the scene where Jekyll meets Frau Elda and the subtle, knowing looks they give each other. I also love the scene at the end where Hyde skulks through the city, surrounded by the grotesque inhabitants of the city’s underbelly.

Since I haven’t read the original I can’t say much about the adaptation, but I’m told that a lot of elements are left out of the story in order to focus on the psychological aspect. I don’t know how much of the text is Kramsky’s own and how much is Stevenson’s. Like Mattotti’s and Kramsky’s other collaborations, the story is mainly concerned with the psychology of the characters. Towards the end of the story, Jekyll tries to regain control by recalling an innocent moment from his childhood, which Hyde tries to subvert. Jekyll realizes he will never be free of Hyde, so he kills himself. The depictions, in both words and art, of Jekyll’s internal psychological torment and hopelessness will haunt you. After reading this adaptation, I can’t imagine any other adaptation doing the story justice.

You can find Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in store at The Beguiling, or you can buy it online at

Lorenzo Mattotti at TCAF! Review of STIGMATA

Lorenzo Mattotti is coming to TCAF! He will not be back in Toronto any time soon, so this is a rare opportunity to meet this famous and enormously talented European creator. Mattotti will be participating in interviews, panels, discussions and signings at TCAF and this is your chance to really get to know his work.

To celebrate Mattotti’s appearance at TCAF, we are running reviews of his English language books all week. First up, Stigmata!

Title: Stigmata
Writer: Claudio Piersanti
Artist: Lorenzo Mattotti
Published: 2011
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Review by John Anderson

What is it about?
A good-for-nothing drunkard wakes up one day with wounds in his palms that won’t stop bleeding. Because of his mysterious stigmata, his friends and neighbours think he’s either a miracle-worker or a freak. After he loses his job at a restaurant because his palms won’t stop bleeding, he moves to another town and finds happiness for a time with a new family, and gets a job using his stigmata to scam the gullible. His refusal to accept this miracle for what it is leads to pain, violence and despair, but in the end he finds redemption.

Why is it good?
Screenwriter and novelist Claudio Piersanti’s dark tale of a man driven to the depths of despair is beautifully captured in Mattotti’s astonishing art. No artist is better suited to capturing all the intense violence, anger and despair this character suffers through. Our nameless protagonist’s face is always somewhat dark and indistinct, and his suspicious and misanthropic nature is captured by a close-up of his eye looking over his shoulder. At the happiest point of the story there is still an undercurrent of danger. His new wife Lorena’s face is clear and beautiful, but his face is still in shadow. It is only at the end of the book, after he has been redeemed, that we see his eyes clearly.

And at the darkest points in the story, such as when the protagonist has lost everything and collapses in the river, the art becomes a chaos of expressionistic lines. And in the final chapter, after he has lost everything and has withdrawn completely from the world, he experiences a redemptive vision where his wordless pain and despair is illustrated so graphically it’s heartbreaking. This chapter is a dreamlike flow of images that is reminiscent of Chimera, another one of Mattotti’s amazing black and white books.

Even the simplest scenes are intense. I love how Mattotti draws water: swirls of lines that are so energetic that I can really feel the force of water from a tap, or the strength of a raging river.

Stigmata was first published in Europe over ten years ago. Two years ago, it was adapted into a film, Estigmas, by the Spanish director Adán Aliaga. It’s been a long time coming to English, but it is worth it. Piersanti’s story would make a powerful film, but it also makes an intense, emotionally powerful comic.

You can find Stigmata in store at The Beguiling, or you can buy it online at

TCAF Announces: Natsume Ono!

Today saw the announcement of a new Featured Guest at TCAF, Japanese manga-ka Natsume Ono! Creator of the excellent manga series not simple, Ristorante Paradiso, Gente, and House of Five Leaves (all from Viz’s Sig/Ikki line), Ono joins announced guests Chester Brown, Mawil, Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine, and Chris Ware, and over 175 other confirmed 2011 exhibitors.

If you’re not familiar with Natsume Ono’s work, well, you should be. She’s great! But don’t take my word for it. Over the next few weeks, we’ll attempt to run some reviews (written by our staff) of our Featured TCAF Guests, to familiarize you with their work and give you a good reason to come in and pick it up.

Kicking things off is Krystle Tabujara, recommending Natsume Ono’s English-language debut not simple.

Absolutely in every sense of the words, Not Simple.
Review by Krystle Tabujara

I happened across Natsume Ono’s not simple the day it came out and was immediately drawn to its minimalism: the font, the colours, the art, the clean lines, the elegant spareness of it’s pages–It was gorgeous and sad and wonderful and all that, but in a uniquely hushed, haunted way. This stood in sharp contrast to the manga I was used to. It lacked, among other staples of the form, the lurid action and dynamism of action adventure and or the toy-bright, cutesy/corpulent characters that clog the comedy and fantasy wings. The art was neat, sparsely detailed, almost recessive–in other words original. Not being an avid manga reader myself, I decided to give the book a shot based on its look alone. I planned to take it home to read, but was so enthralled I finished it before I stepped off the subway. I have since read it countless times and recommend, humbly, everyone does the same. Like, right away. NOW!

But what about it’s story? The narrative is a kind of hobo-picaresque about a boy named Ian, who embarks on a journey to put his broken family back together or cobble together a makeshift, provisional family with the people he meets along the way. Ian travels from Australia (where he was born) to England and finally making a cross-country journey (on foot!) to find his sister. The book begins at the end with Ian’s fate firmly sealed, and yet even with the outcome known in advance Ono’s great storytelling feat (or trick or treat) is that when it’s done, you are left surprised, shocked and craving for more.

The book is suitably dark and brooding–bordering on the melodramatic–but the histrionics seem to stem from a bottomless reservoir of real life angst. Ono effortlessly ensnared me in Ian’s gaunt desperation, but no matter how many horrific things life (or Ono) heap on him this indomitable sprite just won’t give up. In the end, the themes of not simple could be distilled into a simple yet powerful message about how far the heart is willing to go for familial love. But this reductive interpretation is complicated by its hard, minimalist style, its ingenious corkscrew plotting and a heart-stoppingly abrupt finale will haunt you for weeks.

Look for more reviews, coming soon.

– Chris @ The Beguiling