This poster announced the 2022 Toronto Comic Arts Festival. [Photo @ Celia Bildfell]

It all started in a church basement back in 2003 and today, two decades later, the Toronto Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) was set up in the Toronto Reference Library hosting 6,000 patrons in person this past weekend.

The festival brings together artists, authors and avid readers to celebrate the diversity and artistry of comic books and perhaps purchase a favourite or two from one of more than 130 exhibits. Events included live drawings and signings by one of 32 featured artists. As well, TCAF hosted workshops for children and adults. 

One of the exhibitors was the House of Anansi Press, Canada’s leading independent publisher. This year was the publisher’s 5th time with an exhibit at the festival, said Karen Brochu, vice president of sales and marketing.

One of Canada’s best known books for children, The Breadwinner, now has a graphic novel version. It was on display at the the festival. [Photo @ Celia Bildfell]

On display at the Anansi booth was a graphic novel version of The Breadwinner, a well known children’s book by Deborah Ellis. “We have the graphic novel version of the Breadwinner which was an academy award-nominated film,” says Brochu.  

“We (also) have a lot by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, huge names here at TCAF, and we’re really proud to present their works,” says Brochu.

“The vast majority of our creators are Canadian but we do have some really interesting works that we like to bring in from various places around the world whether that’s Sweden or India we have some creators that are international as well,” she added.

Even though the event is hosted and began in Toronto, it does feature works from international artists.

The main floor was packed on the final day of the festival. [Photo @ Celia Bildfell]

One of the international comic creators is Maria Hoey, the co-founder of Coin-Op Books. This was her 10th festival.

“Coin-Op, it’s our press,” she says. “My brother and I write and draw, we’ve been doing it for a long time, since 1997.”

Coin-Op’s exhibit showed off the range of their work. [Photo @ Celia Bildfell]

Hoey began as a professional illustrator doing editorial-based work before she entered the world of comics. “I was never into comics honestly, until my brother and I started doing comics, then we were approached by an editor and that’s kind of how we started.”

The siblings grew up in New York City, although brother Peter now lives in California. Many of their comics have a musical theme. A few have been nominated for Eisner awards which are presented at Comic-Con International.

The company npm graphic novels showed off their books at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. [Photo @ Celia Bildfell]

The exhibits displayed works featuring everything from from superheroes, animals and even music legends including The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin and Michael Jackson.

If you want to see what you missed in person, the festival continues online until June 25.

Here is a peek inside The Beatles comic from npm graphic novels. [Photo @ Celia Bildfell]