TCAF is The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, taking place in 2020 at Toronto Reference Library and surrounding venues in the Bloor/Yonge neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, which culminates in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. Other Festival events include readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and much more. The full program and list of participating creators will be listed at this website, as well as in printed and digital program guides available on-site at the festival.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2020
Main Exhibition: Saturday May 9 and Sunday May 10
Professional Development: Friday May 8
Free To Attend
Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Anishnaabe, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat and that Indigenous peoples have lived on and cared for this land for more than 15,000 years. This territory is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Treaty. Today, Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. We acknowledge that settlers on the land directly benefit from the process of colonization.
In recognition of our gathering on these lands for TCAF 2020, the festival will make a donation to The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF). We look forward to increasing our support and programs for Indigenous creators in the years to come.
FAQ - TCAF 2020
Everything you need to know and then some!
TCAF SOUNDS AWESOME! Can I please apply to exhibit at TCAF 2020?
Nope, we’re full up for this year. Applications for TCAF 2021 will open August 1st, 2020.
I’m a comics professional who is coming to TCAF but does not want to exhibit. Can I register?
Yes! Professional registration will open in February, 2020.
Wait, so what is the festival? Is it like a comic convention or anime convention?
So what is it then?
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is a unique comics event, patterned after comics festivals like Angouleme, Stripdaggen Harlem, and the Small Press Expo. It is a week of comics-related events, including readings, presentations, panel discussions, gallery shows, and a large exhibition area featuring publishers and comic authors and artists. We like to describe it as ‘unconventional’.
So can I still do convention-type stuff at it? Like cosplay, skits, walking around ‘in-character’, etc.?
We recommend against it.
Conventions are held in dedicated spaces, and these become ‘safe’ spaces for attendees to express themselves creatively. TCAF takes place in a public building, and TCAF exhibitors and attendees mix with members of the general public and library customers and that’s what makes it special, but it also makes for a very different vibe than a convention, and one that might not welcome your particular brand of creativity.
We put it like this: You probably wouldn’t wear your Deadpool or Lightning costume to the library on the weekend before TCAF, so you probably shouldn’t wear your costume to the library on the weekend of TCAF. All of us that run the show support personal creative expression through costuming and performance, but TCAF just isn’t an appropriate venue for that.
We have the utmost respect for all of our attending publishers, authors, and their fans, and we want everyone to enjoy themselves. We’re not singling any one or any fandom out. This is about TCAF and the way we do things, and we decided from the get go that this was going to be a literary festival and not a con, and that means that some attendees are going to need to find a more appropriate venue for their cosplay, their performances, and/or their meetups.
How much does it cost to go?
The Festival is free to attend, as are most Festival-related events.
So this is in Toronto, CANADA then?
Yes! TCAF is held in the heart of Toronto, with plenty of options for entertainment including great restaurants, shopping, bars, tourist attractions, museums, movies and more. It is not being held in the ‘tourist’ district, which means everything is a bit more reasonably priced (and fun).
Won’t there be snow or something?
Probably not. Stranger things have happened, but the May weekend is usually snow-free!
Will I have to get Canadian Money then? How does that work?
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival will be held in an area with three or four banks, several of which will be open on the Saturday/Sunday. In addition, many vendors and restaurants happily accept US dollars, and most debit cards will work in Bank ATM’s.
Check nearer the time to find out the exchange rate for the Canadian dollar with your currency.
I’ve never been to Canada before, how does that work?
For U.S. Citizens, a passport is required to enter Canada, and to re-enter the U.S. afterwards.
As for coming into Canada, Canadian Customs is generally staffed at the border with nice people who want you to come into the country and spend money. As long as you have a clear address for where you’ll be visiting (hotel, friend’s house, etc) and a phone number, you’ll likely have no problems coming into Canada.
As for getting to Toronto, it’s actually further south than a number of U.S. cities. Toronto is only a 3.5 hour drive from Detroit, 8.5 hours drive from Chicago, and 10 hours drive from New York City. If you’re flying into the city, we officially recommend using Air Canada, the official airline of TCAF, and flying into Lester B Pearson airport, code YYZ.
However, Porter Airlines also flies to downtown Toronto, code YTZ. If you’re flying out of select cities in the Northeast U.S. or eastern Canada, that might be more convenient to you. See our Travel & Accommodations page for more info.
How can I help? Can I volunteer or something?
Totally! Every year, TCAF needs about 200 enthusiastic volunteers to make TCAF happen and you could be one of them… We ask anyone interested in volunteering for TCAF to get information on our volunteer information page above.
Can I become a Sponsor?
Yes! TCAF is very excited to work with different types of business and partners to sponsors all aspects of the festival. If you are interested in sponsoring TCAF, or would like more information on sponsorship opportunities, please send us an email at email@example.com.
I have more questions!
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll do our best to answer your questions for you. Keep checking this page for updated information as well!
Need more information about our event?
For general inquiries about TCAF, email email@example.com.
For information about exhibiting or if you are an approved exhibitor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For media inquiries, please email email@example.com.
For volunteer inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer applications for TCAF 2020 will start in early 2020.
Tom Spurgeon/ Comics Reporter
TCAF is the jewel of North American shows, so if you want to do a show, that's the one I would do first. ... a significant show on the world stage, and aspirational in many ways to all of us that are working on shows of our own, collectively and individually.
The Beat/Devastator 2015 Indie Exhibitors Survey/ The Beat / The Devastator
The #1 Convention for Indie Comics Exhibitors in North America. In terms of overall sales and exhibitor satisfaction, TCAF still ranks as the best indie fest covered by this survey thus far. [Exhibitors] gushed: “TCAF is well organized, thoughtfully curated, and brings in an excited crowd ready to try new things.”
History & Staff
The Abridged History of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and the people who make it happen
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival exists to promote the breadth and diversity of comics, and what is considered comics, as legitimate medium of literary and artistic worth. We seek to promote the creators of these works in their broad and diverse voices, for the betterment of the medium of comics and to reach as wide an audience as possible for them.
The first Toronto Comic Arts Festival (“TCAF”) was held on the weekend of March 29th 2003. It was the natural progression of years of disparate book signings, author appearances and miscellaneous events put together by a group of volunteers interested in promoting the literary and artistic merits of comic books and graphic novels. Approximately 600 members of the public attended the first festival, with 25 staff and approximately 70 creators in attendance.
Attendance and excitement grew during subsequent events, held every two years. TCAF 2005 was held the weekend of May 28-29, and saw approximately 6,000 attendees visit the large tents set up on the grounds of Honest Ed’s department store. TCAF 2007 moved back indoors to the Victoria College building on the University of Toronto, and it also featured about 6,000 attendees over the August 18-19 weekend. TCAF 2009 was held in conjunction with Toronto Public Library in their massive flagship location, Toronto Reference Library. 10,500 people visited the festival on the weekend of May 9th and 10th, engaging over 300 exhibitors consisting of authors, artists, publishers, from 6 different countries including France, Germany, Japan, and England. Since 2010 TCAF has been held at Toronto Reference Library, with attendances increasing annually – we welcomed 12,500 attendees in 2010, 15,000 in 2011, and 18,000 in 2012 & 2013, 22,000 in 2014, 24,000 in 2015, and 25,000+ in 2016 and beyond, across all Festival events.
While a Festival the scope and size of TCAF was a natural progression of locally organized events, often in coordination with Toronto comic emporium The Beguiling, it also grew from equal parts agitation and inspiration caused by other large-scale events dealing with the comic book medium. While most of shows of this nature are pop-culture events and tend to be insular in nature, we wanted to do something that dealt more specifically with the art form of comics itself, with an emphasis on genre appreciation and open interaction between creators and their community.
Co-Founder, Artistic Director: Christopher Butcher
Co-Founder: Peter Birkemoe
Managing Director: Miles Baker
Programme Coordinators: Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Lindsay Gibb, Kim Hoang, Chris Kuzma, Patrick Kyle, Ginette Lapalme, Jonathan Valelly
Volunteer Coordinator: Stephanie Cooke
International Guest Liaison, Japan: Jocelyne Allen
A/V Coordinator: Parrish Kilthei
Additional Support: Nathalie Atkinson, Shane Bennett, Pip Bradford, David Brothers, Zach Clemente, Michael Mabee, Julie Man, Pedro Salinas, Rabeea Syed, and the staff of The Beguiling Books & Art, Little Island Comics, and Page & Panel: The TCAF Shop.
In addition, TCAF would like to thank the many staff who contributed to its success over the years, including Jonathan Ellis, Tariq Sami, Matthew Seiden, Scott Robins, Kate Byron Dickson, Georgia Webber, Gina Gagliano, Dan Seljak, Kerrie Byrne-Seljack, Andrew Townsend, and Kim Hoang, among many others.