Tag Archives: conventions

TCAF 2014 Recap

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“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.)

PRAISE:

  • 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.

GRIPES:

  • 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.)

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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.

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

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Jen Vaughn and Jesse Reklaw at the Fantagraphics table.

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

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Kuš! came all the way from Latvia!

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Gregory Benton and Jon Chad sign their respective books.

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

tcaf3sMy haul.

Heading to TCAF

Sorry, The Tiny Report has been silent these past few days. I preparing to head to Toronto in a few hours for TCAF. This will be the first time I’ve traveled anywhere that I needed a passport to get to, so it’s taken some extra planning on my part. When I get back I’ll give a full report.

If you’re going to TCAF too, look for me at table 176. I created this handy map to help you find me and my table-mates.

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If you’ve never seen my silly little maps before, let me explain. When I table at a convention, I usually make a graphic to help folks find me on the exhibition floor. It’s a pretty standard practice for publishers. I like to have fun with it, so I provide these fake portraits from images I find on the internet. There is isn’t any logic to it, I just find weird pictures and create a theme. Here are a few from conventions past.

 

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Brooklyn Zine Fest Recap

I spent Saturday tabling at the Brooklyn Zine Fest. I have very little but praise for the show and it’s organizers, Matt Carman and Kseniya Yarosh. But there were several changes this year, and each had its pros and cons.

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My friend Preston, helping me at the table.

This year the Brooklyn Zine Fest was a two-day event, with a completely different line-up of exhibitors each day. I’d never seen a festival split their exhibitor list this way, perhaps they innovated this idea? (Feel free to correct me on this.) Since the fest was previously a 1-day event, no one could complain about having a single day to exhibit. Still, there are some pros and cons to this approach.

PROS

  • Twice as many exhibitors could participate in this show at this location.
  • There was an incentive for attendees to attend both days.

CONS

  • Attendees (and exhibitors too) feel like they’re missing out if they don’t attend both days, which might be a bit much to ask of them.
  • Inevitably, there will one day which will be better than the other in terms of attendance, weather, and sales (perhaps in terms of exhibitors too, though there was plenty of good talent on either day).

My takeaway is that this was a effective answer to the problem of too many exhibitors, not enough tables. I have no complaints about it.

The other major difference this years was the fest’s new venue, Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights.

PROS

  • This is a classy venue! You can’t help but feel it dignifies the subject matter.
  • There is an excellent market a block away (Garden of Eden Gourmet). It has a fancy bakery and a salad bar. This saved me!

CONS

  • The exhibition area was not a large central space, but spread throughout the building (I have more thoughts on this, see below).
  • This is an opinion, but one I can defend: the former neighborhood of the show, Williamsburg, is more punk rock and zine-friendly than Brooklyn Heights. I’d bet a large number of the exhibitors and attendees live in or around northern Brooklyn, and getting downtown from the L or M line is a real hassle.
  • Working around the installations at Brooklyn Historical Society was slightly challenging at times, but very doable in general.

Like at Public Assembly, exhibitors were spread through a small number of separate rooms, rather one central room (as at MoCCA, SPX, etc). But at the Historical Society, these room are very separate: two of them were downstairs. The student room was downstairs and around the corner, and exhibitors in there had it the worst: I ran into several attendees who had no idea this room existed. There were lots of small photocopied signs pointing towards these rooms, but you really need something larger and bolder to standout in the crowd. I’d suggest for future shows that some sort of colorful foot path be attached to floor (if that’s possible).

I’m always of the opinion that one large central area is preferable to separate rooms. If you have more than one room, then one of those rooms is going to the best room, and one is going to be the worst. And in this case, the difference was pretty noticeable. The  upper level was airy, light-filled, and accessible to the street by two entrances. The downstairs rooms were uncomfortably hot and windowless. This is my biggest complaint about the show: the downstairs rooms were  just too hot, and too many attendees didn’t realize they existed.

But honestly, these are minor complaints. I understand that putting on a good festival is difficult, and putting on a prefect one is impossible. I enjoyed this show a lot. The venue was gorgeous and the table fee was fantastically cheap. It was just $30 for a half table, which was the only size available (this maximized the number of total exhibitors). Students paid just $15 (kudos to the organizers for offering that discount). The show was well-promoted and it paid off: attendance was great, and people were spending money! Financially, Paper Rocket hasn’t had a more successful show since Comic Arts Brooklyn. I’d like see more festivals like this one.

Since you made it all the way to the end, here are some more photos!

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Upstairs at the festival.

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The Wizard Skull table was a popular one.

bzine4The Triple Lightning table, and more of the upstairs vendors.

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My haul.

 

MoCCA 2014 Recap

mocca2014_15s I had a blast and there were so many good comics! Here are the top five changes to the MoCCA Arts Fest (as heard by me).

1. CHARLIE BROWN
2. Hey, the entrance fee is just $5!
3. Wait, you have to pay another $5 for the program?
4. The table layout is horizontal rather than vertical. I think they fit in more tables, but I couldn’t say for certain.
5. There’s a weird restaurant in the back. You can get a coffee for two bucks. that’s ok, I guess.

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Here are some familiar faces: Jason Little and daughter Zellie, Nick Bertozzi, Connie Sun, and Gabe Fowler.

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Jesse Reklaw and Hazel Newlevant.

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The spectacular table spread of Greg Kletsel, one of Excellence Award winners.

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Jess Ruliffson also took home an award.

mocca2014_13sDavid Plunkert too. Winners not pictured: Luke Healy and Alexandra Bequez.

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Is it just me, or does Charlie Brown have a boner?

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Tom Kaczynski of Uncivilized Books.

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Chris Pitzer of Adhouse.

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Parsons had a fancy table set-up, and a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like.

mocca2014_12sThe handsome men of the Yeah Dude/Drippy Bones/Sacred Prism table: Pat Aulisio, Keenan Keller, and Matt Krabe .

mocca2014_14sOn the second day, the fancy Charlie Brown balloon needed a little support.

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Austin Enlish of Domino Books.

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OHaBEAR, the amazing pop-up book of Simon Arizpe, is demonstrated.

mocca2014_3sMy haul.

2014 Ignatz Submissions

ignatzSPX has released its submission guidelines for the 2014 awards (the above illustration is by Sam Alden). Here is the pertinent info:

  • You need to send six copies of the work to:
    SPX Ignatz Awards
    c/o Big Planet Comics
    4849 Cordell Ave.
    Bethesda, MD 20814
  • The work must be published between June 1, 2013 and May 31
  • The submission deadline is June 7, 2014
  • These are the outstanding categories:
    Outstanding Artist
    Outstanding Anthology or Collection
    Outstanding Graphic Novel
    Outstanding Story
    Promising New Talent
    Outstanding Series
    Outstanding Comic
    Outstanding Minicomic
    Outstanding Online Comic

 

Pre-MoCCA Comic Book Party

Getting to Park Slope from Queens isn’t an easy task. But three of my favorite NY-area micro-presses are throwing a party, so it’s worth the trip.premocca

CAB Announces Dates and Opens Table Registration

Act quickly, as this is America’s most coveted independent comics festival.

Comic Arts Brooklyn, hosted by Desert Island
November 8th, 2014
11 AM – 7 PM
Mt. Carmel Church
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

APPLY HERE.

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Image by Benjamin Marra