Building a Better TCAF

To start, we want to offer a sincere thank you to everyone who has reached out to us. We appreciate your honesty and your willingness to share your voice. We are listening, and we know that we still have work to do. We are committed to building a better TCAF.

We released an anonymous survey in the summer of 2020. Over the course of six months, a committee of three Volunteer Directors, Coralie D’Souza (currently on leave), Kawai Shen, and Khristine Cuthbertson, reviewed all public comments and reached out to the individuals who requested further contact. The committee presented their findings to the TCAF Board of Directors and the anonymous form is now closed.

In an effort to create an equitable and inclusive workplace, TCAF has taken the following actions:

  1. Education and Training: The Board has been undertaking anti-racist and anti-oppression training, including various webinars offered through employers and independent consultants. We are planning to roll out training for Staff and Volunteers. So far webinar links and reading lists have been shared internally, and we plan to publicly share all updates in forthcoming statements.
  2. New Hiring Processes: The TCAF Board has implemented New Hiring Processes to make them standardized, competitive, and transparent. We focused on removing barriers known to reinforce systemic inequities. For example, we did not include an educational or industry experience requirement. Compensation was posted  transparently, and we shifted the focus from a candidate’s connections and/or credentials to their ability. All TCAF positions are now posted publicly, with underrepresented groups encouraged to apply. The board also aggressively promoted the positions to our diverse networks. We continue to seek to improve this new process to be more inclusive.
  3. Updated Policies: An Anti-Racism Policy, as well as an updated Conduct and Harassment Policy, will be expanded by the TCAF Board of Directors to include off-site events. This will also include an incident reporting process that prioritizes protecting those who come forward from retaliation. These updated policies will be posted on our website as soon as possible.

We promise to continue to improve our communication about the steps we are taking over the next few months, and in the years to come.

Growing and Evolving TCAF

With TCAF 2021 right around the corner, we wanted to take this opportunity to share the steps we are taking to create a festival that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive for all Staff, Volunteers, and Creators. We are very excited to share that TCAF is growing and evolving in powerful ways, and we have no doubt that TCAF 2021 will be an incredible event like never before!

This statement will address the changes we have made to improve our operational structure.

At the end of June 2020, TCAF co-founder Christopher Butcher exited his executive role and is no longer involved with the organization. An indispensable part of TCAF since 2002, Christopher was a passionate leader and innovator, without whom the festival wouldn’t be where it is today. We wish him the very best in all of his future endeavors, and thank him for his significant contributions over the past 18 years.

On July 1st, Miles Baker was promoted to Executive Director in recognition of 10 years of service in growing the festival. Since fall 2020, we have onboarded three new Volunteer Directors, all representing marginalized communities: Charles Roy, Emma Wakelin, and Patryce Bowling. The full Board of Directors also includes Peter Birkemoe, Kawai Shen, Gary Sherman, and Coralie D’Souza (on temporary leave). Khristine Cuthbertson has stepped down as Volunteer Director, and we thank her for contributions to emergency fundraiser and fundraising policies.

In order to restructure internal departments and executive management, new part-time positions have been created, with mentorship opportunities between those with more/less experience in a given area. We are committed to demanding an environment of collaboration and mutual respect, where everyone’s voice and opinion is valued equally.

Finally, we are dedicated to providing professional development opportunities for Staff and Volunteers in ways that are open and transparent, in order for personnel to gain more skills and experience, and advance within TCAF and the industry. We will provide more details about this in the months to come.

Without further ado, here is our new TCAF Executive Team:

Executive Director: Miles Baker
Production Manager: Pip Bradford
Marketing & Communications Manager: Cali Platek
Programming & Partnership Officers: Faduma Gure and Irene Velentzas
Production Coordinators: Jalen Innis and Pedro Salinas
Marketing Coordinator: Terrence Abrahams

Announcing TCAF 2021!

After a challenging year, we’re so excited to announce the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is back — with a virtual twist! Free of the shackles of corporeal existence, TCAF’s marketplace will have more days than ever before, and include a week of on-demand programming. Comic and art lovers can visit TCAF 2021 online any time between May 8-15, 2021, to peruse and shop hundreds of exhibitors’ amazing works, sit in on classic Q&As, workshops, talks, and so much more! 

Our new exhibition website is being made in partnership with Canzine (the festival of zines) and the Toronto Hand Eye Society. Zinesters and indie video game creators will be among our 600 virtual exhibitors in May.

If you want to exhibit at TCAF 2021, fill out this form by March 3, 2021: CLICK HERE TO APPLY

The TCAF 2021 application period is now closed! Thank you to everyone who applied!

Applicants will have the choice to apply for TCAF, Canzine OR Comics x Games. Accepted exhibitors will have a customizable online shop page where they can upload up to 5 items for sale. After TCAF, exhibitors will send all sold items to a warehouse, where orders will be bundled and shipped off to shoppers. This process is to help save exhibitors and visitors excess transaction and shipping fees. There will be options to include additional products.

More details will come on Twitter @torontocomics, on our website at, and at



❥ When and where is TCAF?

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2021 will take place virtually May 8-15, 2021.

❥ Do I need to live in Toronto to take part?

Nope. International exhibitors are welcome!

❥ So, how does this work for me?

If accepted, you will have an online profile store page along with hundreds of other cartoonists in a shared marketplace. After the exhibition is closed, we will send you a report of all the items you’ve sold and you will ship those items to a centralized location. From there, our third-party warehouse will ship compiled orders to our happy customers.

❥ Why the additional item fees?

The additional fees will cover the costs of shipping, handling, and transactions. To save costs for exhibitors and visitors, shipping will be handled by a third-party warehouse. After the event, exhibitors will send all of their sold items to the warehouse to mail out to shoppers. This will save exhibitors and visitors quite a bit on shipping costs; however, this service comes with associated costs, hence the fees for additional items. 

❥ Why the different registration costs between TCAF and Canzine?

The different registration costs reflect the difference in products and audiences. TCAF exhibitors sell (relatively) higher-priced items that are heavier (e.g. books) and tend to sell at higher volumes. Canzine exhibitors sell low-cost items (e.g. 16-page zine) that are lighter and tend to sell at lower volumes.

❥ I was accepted to TCAF in 2020 but didn’t get to exhibit because of the pandemic. You said we’d be at the next TCAF? What’s the deal?

If you were accepted to TCAF in 2020, you can either defer to this year or defer to 2022. If you apply to TCAF 2021, we will assume that you are taking your deferral to this year. Please include that you were accepted into TCAF 2020 in the “Anything else we should know?” section.

❥ How do I defer to 2022?

If you’d like to defer to 2022, you do not need to take any actions at this time. You will simply need to fill out an application for 2022 when those go live next year.

❥ How do collectives and publishers apply?

Unlike past years, we are asking for a single application from collectives and publishers. If you’re a collective, please include a list of all members of your application. If you’re a publisher, please include authors you are planning on featuring with your application.

If you have additional questions, please email

Apply now for Blind Date 2021

Applications now closed. Thank you for your interest.


The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (Toronto, Canada) and Entreviñetas Festival (Bogotá and Medellín, Colombia), in alliance with the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, are proud to be mounting a third and final year of the Blind Date project (Cita a ciegas) in 2020.

In 2018, TCAF and the  Ministry of Culture of Colombia launched the Blind Date project (Cita a ciegas), which aimed to connect two comic artists from each country to collaborate digitally. Two comic artists — Anna Kwan from Toronto, Canada, and Mariana Gil Ríos from Medellín, Colombia — worked together to create a shared digital graphic work over the course of the Fall, using the internet to develop the piece from their respective countries. You can see the result of their project here: In 2019, Karen Shangguan and Laura Cañas collaborated on the second iteration of the project, and their collaborative comic A First Meeting was featured in the TCAF 2020 Exhibitor Showcase, available on gumroad, 

We are delighted to host a third year of this initiative in 2019, and we are inviting Canadian artists to submit their interest in being considered. The selected Canadian artist will receive $1000 to support the creation of this work. The selected Colombian artist will receive 5 million Colombian pesos. 

The Canadian artist and Colombian artist will jointly develop a comic art project around the theme of “conversation” with the expectation that they:

  • Deliver a total of 8-10 pages of comic, or the webcomic equivalent, to be hosted online and formatted for digital audiences
  • Meet digitally at least once every two weeks (for example through Skype, video calling, screenshare, etc.) with ongoing correspondence between meetings
  • Create some official documentation of the artistic process that can be publicly shared
  • Complete and submit the final project by January 30, 2021

If you are interested in participating, please submit your application to this email or to by December 20, 2020 at 11:59pm. We recognize the short turn around for this deadline, so we are making the application process as straightforward as possible. Please send the following three parts to with the subject heading “Blind Date 2020 Application”

  • A selected artist’s CV or bio (no longer than 2pgs) with relevant experience
  • Digital portfolio of 5-7 works/images of comic art
  • A short statement of interest (max. 400 words) OR a 15 minute phone interview (let us know if you’d like to take this option and we can schedule it)

Canadian creators interested in participating in the project do not have to be exhibitors at TCAF to apply.

TCAF’s Commitment to Ending Anti-Black & Anti-Indigenous Racism

“Stay safe.”  We say it so often and without thinking. It’s even starting to lose its meaning. 

These words have a very different meaning to Black and Indigenous peoples, groups who are subject to greater precarity, particularly when intersecting with gender, class, and other forms of systemic discrimination.

In the wake of recent events, including the widespread outpourings of solidarity against anti-black racism in North America, and specifically in Canada, the killings of 8 indigenous persons by police since just this April — we are taking stock and acknowledge the systemic and institutional barriers we play a part in. 

Simply put, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)—whose leadership currently lacks Black or Indigenous representation —can do better. 

We exist to support creators of comic works in their broad and diverse voices in order to promote the medium of comics as a legitimate medium of literary and artistic worth. We believe we have a role to play in supporting diversity in our field and are making a commitment to do so, with intention. 

We will begin with a commitment to learning by ensuring our staff and volunteers and the board receive resources and materials to help facilitate their understanding of issues raised by BIPOC communities, with attention to intersectional identities, including but not limited to QTBIPOC identified individuals. We are also exploring new ways of applying an anti-racist lens in building our community, including our staff and volunteers, with the understanding that accounting for anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism must be at the forefront.

We do not see this as a one-time project, but a life-long one that will inform the organization we aspire to be going forward. We look forward to working with the larger comics industry, and community to do so and will provide updates as we develop our plans.   

— Christopher Butcher, Miles Baker + The TCAF Board (Coralie D’Souza, Gary Sherman, Kawai Shen, Khris Cuthbertson, Peter Birkemoe)

Regarding Conduct & Harassment in the Comics Industry

In light of the recent allegations made by women against various men in the comics industry, we at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) wish to make it unequivocally clear that all forms of harassment and predation, including subtler forms such as grooming, are not tolerated by the festival.

We recognize that TCAF plays an important role in the comics industry, that the festival is an active space for networking, and this tasks us with the responsibility of continually addressing and revisiting the challenges of maintaining a safe space for all attending and aspiring creators. 

We are currently reviewing our existing Conduct & Harassment Policy, with the aim of explicitly addressing events we host or co-host with our cultural and business partners off the main exhibition sites of the festival where TCAF staff are harder to identify. We will announce revisions before our next live event.

In addition, we will be reviewing our past and current processes for inviting and handling reports of harassment and will provide updates as necessary.

— Christopher Butcher, Miles Baker + The TCAF Board (Coralie D’Souza, Gary Sherman, Kawai Shen, Khris Cuthbertson, Peter Birkemoe)

Update to the Comics Community Regarding COVID-19 from TCAF and VanCAF

Update to the Comics Community Regarding COVID-19 from TCAF and VanCAF

In the months leading up to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, including Comics X Games in partnership with Hand Eye Society (May 8-10) and the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival (May 16-17), we wanted to update you on our plans. 

At this point, both festivals will be moving forward, with enhanced cleaning procedures at venues, and additional cleaning/sanitizing materials made available to exhibitors and the public. 

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SEP 22: Comics & Graphic Novels @ Word on the Street!

Comics & Graphic Novels @ Word on the Street
Sunday, September 22, 10am-5:00pm
@ Harbourfront Centre, Queen’s Quay
Free for the public to attend

Sunday September 22nd it’s marks the annual Word on the Street Literary Festival in Toronto! TCAF has entered a relationship with WOTS to help develop their comics and graphic novels programming and exhibitors for 2019 and 2020! We think this relationship will help promote some of Canada’s greatest comic creators and graphic novelists to the amazing crowd of book lovers that WOTS attracts each year.

Keep reading to see participating exhibitors and programming!

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Check out BLIND DATE, sponsored by TCAF and Entreviñetas

This past Fall, As part of TCAF’s growing partnership with Colombian comic artists, we collaborated with Enterviñetas and the Ministry of Culture of Colombia to launch a special project called Blind Date (or Cita a ciegas).
The Blind Date project pairs Colombian and Canadian comic artists who have never met to collaborate digitally across hemispheres to create a digital comic art project. Fun fact: this project resulted in the first grant specifically for comic artists ever in Colombia! So exciting!
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TCAF Joins Forces with University Researchers for “Comic Cons Research Project”

UPDATE April 11: This survey is now available in both French and English! [Link]

TCAF Joins Forces with University Researchers
New research project explores booming fandom event sector

Toronto – March 19, 2018. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival and the Ottawa Geek Market have teamed up with researchers from Carleton University, Ryerson University, and the University of Calgary to launch a multi-year research partnership. Over the project’s three years, researchers will study the role that North America’s comic conventions, comic art festivals and fandom events play in the creative economy and the cultural life of cities.

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