12 May 2009

TCAF: a roundup of sundry thoughts.

opening night.

Friday night's opening event at Harbourfront included an address by Adrian Tomine and Seth, followed by an interview between Tomine and comic artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Seth's speech was rather protracted. Though I'm not a fan (obviously) of his tendency to deride people who wish to draw accurately or naturalistically in comic narratives, I did truly appreciate his observation that comics (cartoons, specifically) are a coalescence of graphic design and poetry. It's true. They can't quite be called drawing; cartoons are collections of shapes designed to represent people, places, things, and to convey a message, meaning, story. And it does become poetry, when one can successfully convey something human through a strategic co-mingling of non-human shapes. An excellent medium.

the event itself.

The festival was at the Toronto Reference Library, which is so my frequent haunting ground it was like showing up in my living room and inviting the public in for a look. The festival represented the same mix of exhilaration and melancholy I find doing all most book fairs this last while. Really overwhelming how much Good work there is, and sometimes hard to feel at home when what I'm up too seems rather out of place with the predominance of more cartoon-oriented comics. I also envy peoples' ability to tell stories simply.

The melancholy was, however, completely trumped by checking out the GOLD that is the work/publications of Tom Neely, Brett Warnock (Top Shelf), Dylan Williams (Sparkplug comics), Brian Musikoff and ever Shannon Gerard.

adolescence vs. real life.

And then there was Anke Feuchtenberger, (visiting from Berlin) who did a talk about her work. She and Renée French make me understand the phenomenon of fanboy-ism, when I actually went and lined up for the first autograph of my life. Embarrassing but true.

Anyhow, when Feuchtenberger was discussing her "W the Whore" series of books, it was commented on that the main character changes guise in each episode, almost to a point of being unrecognizable, except for her name. (In one of the books she looks a modern full-grown woman, in another a small child, etc.) This is only possible in visual narratives, as a written book doesn't do the work of description quite as accurately. A name is a name, and the reader fills in the rest.

The effect of this is of creating a really timeless narrative of this character in these surreal environments. Anyhow, this idea came up that during adolescence we live in a haze of clichés and ideas, and it is with adulthood that these are tempered by what is actually possible. Hence the development of this character whose only real consistency is through her name.

Just thought that was neat.

the word "hobby".

Feuchtenberger also pointed out whilst speaking on a panel about European comics that she still considers her comics-making to be a hobby. As the pay she receives is never commensurate with the work she does, she said that her books were really a "gift" to her publisher. (She is an art professor in Hamburg, I think, by trade) It was an important moment, to have someone whose work I revere a great deal point out that it is not her living; that comics are not a realistic trade. Yes, 35, and I still labour under ridiculous delusions, 'tis true. 

There is no "arrival" in this business. Or rather, doing the work="arrival". It is easier to accept this, unfortunately, when it come from further up the proverbial ladder. It took some of the sting out of the word "hobby", to have someone use said word, who so obviously is dedicated to her work as Work.

thank god(s).

The calibre of work at the festival, and the quantity of it made me realize how long it's been since I've been around people concerned with pictures/words co-existing as a medium, and was fundamentally inspiring. Thank God(s).

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