Comic culture booming
TORONTO COMIC ARTs FESTIVAL at the Beguiling (610 Markham) and Honest Ed's parking lot (Lennox, west of Bathurst), May 27-29. 416-533-9169, www.torontocomics.com Rating: NNNNN
When super-hot teen soap The O.C.'s major storyline features geek hero Seth Cohen developing his own comic book, you know a trend is deepening. And as comic book culture grows, so does the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
The second biennial fair is already busting out of Peter Birkemoe 's emporium the Beguiling to include a tented venue nearby. TCAF director Birkemoe started the festival after visiting similar events in cities not nearly as nice as ours.
"I realized that Toronto is a much better place to attract people. In fact, artists like Phoebe Gloeckner (The Diary Of A Teenage Girl) like it so much, she's coming here on her own dime."
Joining comic book luminaries like Gloeckner and Gary Panter are heavyweights like Jeff Smith , the creator of Bone, and Darwyn Cooke , the T.O.-based designer responsible for getting Catwoman out of stilettos. Catch Cooke while you can - he's moving to the East Coast very soon.
Saturday, the TCAF action takes place at the Beguiling and in the tented venue behind Honest Ed's. Sunday, Markham between Bloor and Lennox is closed to traffic while comic freaks and zinesters set up their tables.
Birkemoe ascribes the surge of interest in graphic novels and the comic arts to the nature of the beast itself.
"With comics, you get a narrative in a visual medium, and, unlike film and TV, people can do it on their own. In fact, the most interesting work is the most personal."