TCAF: Of Super Mutants and Gay BDSM
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TCAF: Of Super Mutants and Gay BDSM

Your guide to TCAF 2015.

Screen Shot 2015 05 07 at 1 28 26 PM

It might be tempting to begin this guide with a decree along the lines of “comics geeks, rejoice!” but, in fact, if the Toronto Comic Arts Festival’s lineup is any indication, such pigeonholing sentiments are best left in the past. Indeed, the recent Caldecott win by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki for their 2014 YA graphic novel, This One Summer (which debuted at last year’s TCAF) offers one of many pieces of recent evidence in defence of the humble comic’s rise from the cultural margins to mainstream literary recognition.

Co-presented each mother’s day weekend by the Toronto Public Library and The Beguiling bookstore, this year’s fest features some of the medium’s top talent (including the aforementioned Jillian Tamaki). Here’s our guide to some of the graphic artists we’re most excited to see.

1:30 p.m.: Spotlight: Lynda Barry, Funk Queen of the Universe
Saturday, May 9. Marriott Bloor-Yorkville Hotel (90 Bloor St. E.). Free.
An alternative comics deity and one of the first women to penetrate the boys’ club of left-of-centre comics, Lynda Barry’s most recent work, Syllabus, collects the course plan for her popular University of Wisconsin-Madison course and writing workshop, Writing the Unthinkable.

11:15 a.m.: Spotlight: Charles Burns; 12:15pm-1:15pm: Charles Burns and Killoffer in Conversation
Saturday, May 9. Marriott Bloor-Yorkville Hotel (90 Bloor St. E.). Free.
Burns emerged as an early contributor to Raw, Art Spiegelman’s and Francoise Mouly’s avant-garde and influential comics magazine. He’s probably best known, though, for ambitious and inventive sci fi-inflected epics like Black Hole and the X’ed Out trilogy. He also happens to be the official poster artist for TCAF 2015, which is pretty badass.

12:15 p.m.: Gay Comics Art Japan with Gengoroh Tagame
Saturday, May 9. Marriott Bloor-Yorkville Hotel (90 Bloor St. E.). Free.
A bold choice for the fest, Tagame’s work fits the ultra-specific subgenre of bearish, gay BDSM erotic manga, or bara. His translated short story collection, The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, was the first completely bara work released in English.

2:00 p.m.: Jillian Tamaki and Adrian Tomine in Conversation, moderated by David Berry
Saturday, May 9. Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge St., Hinton Learning Theatre, 3rd Floor). Free.
It’s the year of Tamaki! Her new collection Super Mutant Magic Academy debuts at this year’s fest.

Tomine began self-publishing his own comic series, Optic Nerve at 16, which would be a marker of loathsome precociousness except that, as it happens, the series turned out to be really terrific. He’s been a regular contributor to the New Yorker (perhaps you’ve heard of this rag?) since 1999, and will be debuting Optic Nerve 14 at this year’s fest, as well.

11:00 a.m.: The New Mainstream?
Saturday, May 9. Marriott Bloor-Yorkville Hotel (90 Bloor St. E.). Free.
Many will surely recognize panelist Chip Zdarsky (the alter ego of former National Post illustrator Steve Murray), whose Sex Criminals series (co-created with Matt Fraction) won a prestigious Eisner Award. He’s also co-writing, with Joe Quinones, a new Howard the Duck revival for Marvel Comics and will soon debut another series, with Kagan McLeod, called Kaptara. Yes, he’s as busy as he is mischievous.

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