On meeting Rainbow Rowell and another great TCAF

Last week was a good week for my love of books. On Thursday, I went to see Rainbow Rowell speak with Elaine Lui. On Friday, I went to see Lynn Johnston speak with Kate Beaton as the opening night of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF). And then I spent hours on Saturday and Sunday at TCAF. It was magical! Let’s recap from the beginning.


eleanor and park and fangirl

My fellow book-drooler-over She’s Stacked and I headed over to the Northern District branch of the Toronto Public Library after work. I have only read Rainbow’s Attachments, but I knew that Eleanor & Park and Fangirl were massive successes and I wanted to hear from the lady herself. I’ve always picked up those books in stores and thought ‘hmm, sounds cute, maybe later’ or ‘hmm maybe it’s too YA for me?’ but let me just say I quickly shelled out the cash for the two at the event in order for her signature to grace their pages. Rainbow was there to sort of promote her new novel Landline and to be interviewed by LaineyGossip, or Elaine Lui, of The Social TV show (Elaine was also celebrating the release of a new book, Listen to the Squawking Chicken). But clearly the conversation stayed with Rainbow’s two YA novels, most specifically on the fact that Eleanor & Park is now currently being turned into a movie.

eleanor and park and fangirl

I was instantly compelled by Rainbow’s charm and oral storytelling. She’s full of light and humour. Plus, she just seems to get it. She just gets life. She makes it look so easy. (“Think of yourself as the star of your own life.”) Many teenage girls got up to bravely ask her questions, some even crying about how they’re having a tough time in school or how much they love her, and she answered them like a brilliant champ. She was consoling, funny and smart. I bet everyone in that room wanted to hug her. (She’s Stacked did later!) I was won over by her love of Benedict Cumberbatch (“My next book will feature somebody who looks like Benedict Cumberbatch”) and Harry Potter, her journalism experience (“Journalists think that’s the only job”) and her care for characters with anxiety (“I feel everyone’s emotions”). She mentioned that every character she writes deals with not having much experience. I was also really comforted to hear her say how she never thought she’d write books and that she never felt like the characters lived through her, something you hear from a lot of writers. And her confidence! It just shines. When asked if she could write the screenplay for the Eleanor & Park movie, all she said was, “I think I’d be pretty good at it,” without having any experience. She just went for it.

When someone asked about what a writer should do, she said, “Read a lot a lot a lot. Fill yourself up with language, other voices and get toxic with language.”

jessica with rainbow

So after waiting for ages, I got to say “hi” and “you’re great” and “I’M YOU!” to her in a rush as she signed the books, and then she even asked if we could get a picture taken. What a sweetheart. I’m really looking forward to getting into reading those books & the new one in the fall!


raina, lynn and kate

My boyfriend’s a fan of Kate Beaton’s historically-themed comics and was really keen to go see her in conversation with Lynn Johnston, the creator of For Better or For Worse, speaking on the old times and the new times in the comics world. This was another one of those I’m-not-too-familiar-with-their-work-yet-but-I’m-interested events. And I enjoyed this one, too! The two, moderated by Raina Telgemeier, were hilariously exchanging random stories about Charles Schulz and internet-famous comics (“It’s instant gratification now… you put something up and people go ‘lol’ and you’re like, ‘JOB DONE'” – Kate). They got sillier as the event went on, which was fun to see. Lynn even joked about her hair setting on fire when she was in the bath with her late husband, and how she’s dating a man at 67. It was a lighthearted event, which made for a great beginning to a great festival. (That picture above is of them on the screen as we were sitting much farther back.)

Saturday & Sunday

tcaf haul

So my boyfriend hasn’t lived in Toronto long enough to ever go to a TCAF. I wouldn’t let him go to the event earlier in the day without me, because I wanted to see his reaction, so when we got there around 2:30, he was in awe of the comics chaos and I was pleased. Like I said in this blog post, it’s one of my favourite times of the year, so I motored on to business!

Before we even got inside, we saw Robb Mirsky, a Toronto comic artist who did the cover art for Static Zine‘s The Future issue as well as a couple pages in other issues. He gave me his new “Life Without Parole” comic! As we got inside, I finally got to meet Elaine M Will, who was visiting from Saskatoon. She put out a book last year called Look Straight Ahead about a boy’s mental breakdown, which was excerpted in the Static Zine Mental Health issue. I got to grab her new comic, Dustship Glory.

After that, I quickly scooped up Seo Kim’s Cat Person, Meag Fitzgerald’s Photobooth: A BiographySherwin Tija’s You are a Cat! (Seriously, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure as the life of a cat, written by a fellow Broken Pencil board member),Vicki Nerino’s Am I Dog? and Keiler Roberts’ Powdered Milk zines & book. But that’s not all! More meandering led to getting zines about connecting with the universe by Yumi Sakugawa, Julie Delporte’s Everywhere AntennasJillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer, Gabrielle Bell’s Voyagers (with an intro by Aaron Cometbus!) and Truth is Fragmentary and Taddle Creek‘s broadsheet issue. A quick run upstairs before hours were over — and a deep breath seeing how packed it was — and I quickly snagged Beth Hetland’s mini conversation zine and Gemma Correll’s Cats on Planes and Too Much Coffee zines. But I also got her to draw a portrait of my boyfriend, my kitten Samson and me! What a day!

gemma correll illustration of jessica and jack

Sunday rolled around & we needed more of TCAF. We hadn’t finished the second floor yet, and we knew there were still more goodies on the first floor we missed. I grabbed Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault’s Jane, the fox & me, Toronto’s Friendship Edition Anthology Vol #1, which features eight great local artists via screenprint, Liz Prince’s Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?, Delayed Replays and the Tomboy excerpt, a collaborative CORGI ZINE (!) and Trina Robbins’ From Girls to Grrrlz.

tcaf haul 2

I want to hug my haul! Now I need to figure out where to put them all though, as my comic art shelf of all my previous TCAF hauls is full…

TCAF is an amazing event, and I can’t wait to spend many more years with it. I’m always sad when I leave though, as I’m leaving a building full of “my people” — people who are so excited to buy books! And art! And support those who create them! It’s a fantastic thing to see.

This entry was posted in Books.