How to Do TCAF on a Budget
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How to Do TCAF on a Budget

For less than $50, you can bring home an armload of quality comics from the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

This weekend, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival will fill the Reference Library with all things comics (except superheroes, natch). One of the only downsides of the festival is that it’s easy to burn a hole in your wallet, what with all the bright colours, lovingly saddle-stitched comics, and zines about Shaq (really).

So here’s your guide to getting a big haul for under $50 at Toronto’s best comics festival.

Magical Beatdown 1.5, Jenn Woodall, 12 pp., $3.

Toronto-based cartoonist Jenn Woodall says she loves “magical girls”—but don’t mistake her characters for your typical manic-pixie dream girls, because they’ll kick your ass. Magical Beatdown involves 12 pages of excessive violence and swearing, as well as some gorgeous art. Woodall is part of the Friendship Edition collective, which will be tabling together on the second floor and selling a nice-looking 40-page anthology for $10.

Shaqzine, Edited by Jason Poland and Keith Mclean, 70 pp., $9.

There was a time when Shaquille O’Neal was one of the biggest celebrities in the world. Companies sold basketballs with his handprint on them, he released rap videos, and he also starred in a terrible movie. It was an outstanding time. Shaq has retired from basketball, but Poland and Mclean recruited 50 cartoonists to share their nostalgic feelings about the basketball player known as the Big Aristotle. Comics included in the anthology cover such things as Shaq facts and imagined encounters and adventures with the former Lakers centre.

Hollow in the Hollows, Dakota McFadzean, 32 pp., $5.

Regina’s Dakota McFadzean is releasing a new comic at TCAF called Hollow in the Hollows. It focuses on a young protagonist who investigates a secret in the woods, and it’s heavy on atmosphere and mood, with a lush style that creates an air of mystery. And $5 happens to be a really good price point for this kind of work. Bonus tip: congratulate McFadzean on realizing the dream of so many cartoonists—that is, joining the Usual Gang of Idiots at Mad magazine (he makes his debut there this month).

Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarksy, 128 pp., $10.

Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarksy‘s comic series might be the only one to have held its launch at a sex club—and to have celebrated the event by having the writer get his nipple pierced and the artist wear a Garfield suit—but hey, those are the guys behind Sex Criminals. The series has been very successful, and the first five issues have been collected in a trade paperback edition with a good price point (limited edition hardcovers will also be available for $40). So if a comic series about a couple who stop time when they orgasm and then rob banks is your thing—and it should be—then you should pick this one up.

This One Summer, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, 320 pp., $22.

The Tamaki cousins have teamed up again after the success of their graphic novel Skim, which won the top prize at the 2009 Doug Wright Awards. This One Summer covers similar terrain, dealing with summer friends who come of age, grow embarrassed by their parents, develop an interest in sex, and go on Harriet the Spy missions to learn from local teenagers. Every comics festival has a few marquee debut books that are bound to draw a lot of interest, and this, along with Mimi Pond’s Over Easy, is one of them.

TCAF runs Saturday and Sunday at the Toronto Reference Library and is free to enter.

CORRECTION: May 13, 2014, 12:25 PM This post originally misspelled artist Keith Mclean’s surname as “Maclean”. We regret the error.