Tag Archives: conventions

Applications for MoCCA Fest 2015 Close After Friday

Time is running out! You have two days to submit your application for MoCCA Arts Festival 2015. At this point, I recommend faxing your application or scanning it and emailing it to kate@societyillustrators.org. (The MoCCA Fest is the only convention I’ve applied to in the last year that still required I put pen to paper.) 

Something caught my eye when I was reading the festival guidelines:

“Exhibitors are restricted to comic and cartoon artists and their representatives. This includes: Artists of creator-owned comics, publishers, and writers, selling only comic/cartoon art, comics and graphic novels. Exhibitors must display published material (self-published accepted) to be eligible.”

Does this signal a move away from exhibitors who sell merchandise only or primarily, and towards a more “pure” book festival? I would certainly applaud an effort to champion books and their creators first and foremost. But is this a ban on merchandise? I think that would be going too far. What is “comic/cartoon art?”

The truth is, MoCCA Fest is an expensive show for exhibitors–one of the most expensive indie comics shows around. Like many exhibitors, I rely on sales of merchandise, in addition to book sales, to cover my table cost (or attempt to cover it–it’s something I often fail at.) A ban on merchandise (if that’s what this is) would really cripple me financially.

I do like the idea that exhibitors have to sell books. This is a book festival. There should be one book on the table (kind of like the “one foot on the floor” rule). But does that mean we can ONLY sell books?

If anyone has more information on this, please chime in.

Se my 2014 MoCCA recap here.


Grand Comics Festival Opens Applications

GCF14_3sPat Dorian just announced that applications are open for his Brooklyn-based comics festival, Grand Comics Festival. It’s the smallest comics festival I’ve ever been to, but highly curated and worth checking out. It’s the sort of intimate, friendly festival where you can easily have a conversation with every exhibitor. I’m applying for the first time.

The deadline to apply is February 15. Check out my recap of the 2014 festival.

Exhibitor Applications Open for CAKE

cake2015Applications are due December 15. It’s a curated show, so an advisory committee will select next year’s exhibitors. It’s great show with great community (but not much of selling show, from my experience).

Keep Track of Cons with Con-Man


Just today I was saying to myself, “Gee, I wish there was a stylish app that would help me keep track of all these damn conventions.” And it turns out Nate Beaty already did that! Check out Con-Man, and Nate’s other creations (I’ve been a fan of his comics for years).

TCAF Opens Exhibitor Application for 2015

Toronto Comic Atrs Festival 2014

Would-be exhibitors, start your engines! TCAF just opened up the application process for their 2015 show, which will be held on Saturday May 9th and Sunday May 10th (with a Professional Development day on Friday May 8th). Don’t dilly-dally, because they are only accepting applications until October 17.

There is a new development for 2015. From the website:

“NEW FOR 2015: We are asking creators to exhibit every other year. If you exhibited in 2014 it is highly unlikely that you will be allocated a space for 2015 without extenuating circumstances (i.e., a major new print release, a gallery show, etc.). There are still many ways to participate in TCAF without a table and  Most publishers are exempted from this rule.”

I’m curious about which publishers would be exempt. Would this generally include micro-publishers? Would this include me? I attended TCAF for the first time this year, and I’d like to return in 2015. I’ll just apply and see what happens.

Grand Comics Festival Recap

I was only able to drop into the Grand Comics Festival for an hour before my shift at Desert Island. Here’s a brief recap.

Grand Comics Festival is perhaps the smallest comics festival I’ve ever been to. It’s a friendly and intimate show, well-curated and almost entirely local. There is no programming, The admission is free, which feels right for this sort of show. This is its second year, and they made the switch from a weekend show to Saturday-only. This was the right choice; last year it felt like a one-day show that went on too long.

It seems to me that the show was curated to the taste of its organizer, Pat Dorian. And I like Pat’s taste. My only complaint is that I’d like to see some new blood. I saw very few strangers in the room. At the same time I want to commend Pat on attracting some big hitters, like R. Sikoryak and David Sandlin.

Bird River Studios in Williamsburg hosts the event

GCF14_3sThe organizer of the show, Pat Dorian

The show floor

Kriota Willberg embroiders scenes from a colonoscopy

J.T. Yost of Birdcage Bottom

GCF14_5s Alden Viguilla and  Alexandra Beguez

GCF14_7sJess Ruliffson and Lara Antal talk to Dre Grigoropol

The ever photogenic Robin Ha

Josh Bayer and Aaron Cockle

Jess Worby and Keren Katz

Aaron Cockle

GCF14_14sI want all this cute stuff from Sara Varon


TCAF 2014 Recap


“This is your first TCAF?” I heard that a lot last weekend. I’ve been exhibiting at comic conventions for about 15 years, but I’d never made it out to TCAF before. I’d been meaning to, because I’ve heard nothing but good things about the show. But it’s curated and the tables sell out quick, so it seems every year I wait too long to register. 2014 was going to be different: I got my application in early, got a passport for this first time ever, and bought a cheap plane ticket well in advance. 

I’ve got to say, TCAF lived up to the hype. It was packed both days, and sales were pretty good. The exhibitors were well-curated and their were plenty of good comics to buy. In terms of consistent quality, table to table, TCAF’s only rival is CAB (based on my experience, at least).

So here’s my handy-dandy recap, complete with praise, gripes, and some tips I picked up along the way. (PS: because I was tabling, I didn’t get to see any programing. This recap focuses on exhibiting only.)


  • There was an amazing selection of comics to be purchased. Hardly a stinker in bunch!
  • It was located in a library, a large and posh one. This attracted customers from outside the comics community. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
  • The show was well-run (except for a few hiccups). TCAF offered exhibitors support and helpful advice for lodging, crossing the border, etc.
  • Admission was free. We need more free shows.
  • Tables were fairly cheap.


  • Early table set-up was delayed for quite a while on Friday night. This was a blunder and exhibitors were annoyed.
  • The exhibition area was housed in several different rooms. Like I’ve said before, this means there was a room that was the best, and one that was the worst. Some tables saw far fewer customers based on where they were located. I’m not vehemently against exhibiting in multiple rooms. Sometimes it is a fair trade-off for inhabiting a cool space. But this problem will always persist.
  • The upstairs exhibition area was housed in a smaller room. To prevent overcrowding and fire code violations, volunteers kept a tally of visitors as they entered the room. When the room was full, attendees couldn’t enter till it emptied a little. The line to get in wasn’t long when I visited, but I’m told it it stretched far at times. I’ve never had to wait in line to enter the exhibition area of small press / indie-friendly comics festival. It was frustrating to attendees and exhibitors, and it was the number one gripe I heard last weekend. I’m told it’s not a new problem, and the same thing happened last year.

What’s to be done about this location? Nothing, maybe. This is a really awesome building in a prime neighbor. Being a public library, it welcomes a diverse audience, something comic conventions usually fail to do. That might be worth all the challenges the location brings.

If you’re an American like me, exhibiting at TCAF can be challenging. Here are some tips I learned along the way.

  • If you’re coming from New York, do yourself a favor and get a plane ticket. If you do it far enough in advance you can get one for around $200. That’s twice as much as a round-trip bus ticket, but you’re on the plane for an hour and a half. A bus ride is at least 10 hours.
  • When crossing the border, just tell them you’re on vacation and you’ll probably be fine. don’t freak out (I was freaking out a little). It was recommended that I ship my books ahead of me, but do you know how much international shipping costs?! So I decided to take a chance and, for a $25 bag fee, I brought my books in my luggage. I got through customs just fine.
  • See if your bank has a Canadian partner that allows you to withdraw Canadian cash without extra fees (for example, Bank of America has this sort of relationship with Scotiabank).
  • If you don’t have a better option, consider staying at the St. Mike’s dorm. To be honest, the place is kind of gross. It looks kind of like a derelict hospital ward from the 70s. BUT, it’s just a few blocks away from the show and for $50 a night you get a private room. I’m no princess. As long as I didn’t bring bedbugs home (fingers crossed!!!) I’ll consider it a bargain.
  • Partner with your friends to get a large shared tablespace rather than doing a half table by yourself (I didn’t do this and I wish I had). Since the quality of table placement is hit or miss, you can mitigate it by having the right neighbors. And by taking up a larger amount of real estate, collectively, you command more of a presence.
  • Bring plenty of books to this show, rather than minicomics. Everything on my table with a square binding (all priced $20 and up) sold out in the first day. This crowd prefers books to floppies and zines, it seems.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. I liked TCAF enough that I’ll probably go back next year, if I can. And next time I’ll work up the courage to talk to Chester Brown.

tcaf6sYour room, madame. (To be honest this was the hostel room across the hall from me; my room was furnished and clean.)

A crowd waits for early set-up on Friday night.

tcaf5s Kriota Willberg visits Alec Longstreth and Greg Means at the Phase 7 / Tugboat table.

tcaf7s I happened to be tabling next to Steven Gilbert, who took home a Doug Wright award! The other winners this year are Michel Rabagliati and Emily Carroll.

New discovery! This is a Toronto-based collective called Friendship Edition. their stuff looks good.

Jen Vaughn and Jesse Reklaw at the Fantagraphics table.

Robin Ha, Joan Reilly, and Ellen Lindner. Stop reading and get back to work, ladies!

Kuš! came all the way from Latvia!

Gregory Benton and Jon Chad sign their respective books.

tcaf8sRaighne Hogan and Justin Skarhus at the 2D Cloud table.

tcaf3sMy haul.