We arrived in Toronto Early Friday morning after taking the red eye. Since we were going to be at TCAF all weekend, Friday was the only day we had to do anything "touristy". Scott and Sky walked to the CN Tower from our hotel, while Winter and I went off to see if we could get me some curling shoes. Unfortunately, the guy at the hotel's directions got me to the street we needed, but not the right end. Winter and I had an adventure, as we walked uphill over an hour trying to get to the store. I think we might have walked closer to two hours, but I checked, and we only walked 2 miles, though it seemed like much more (we did stop a bunch of times, both to rest, and to investigate a very large Whole Foods Market). When the road we were on suddenly turned into a school campus, we gave up and asked for help.
What followed was a series of very helpful people who went out of their way to do what they could for us. Canadians have a reputation of being kind and going above and beyond, and they certainly lived up to it. We managed to get on a bus, and then another bus and then got let off at the door of the store we were headed to. I was able to buy curling shoes, though, because I am left-handed, they are not quite what I wanted, and they are going to take some doing to make work, but, oh well, at least I have them, and that is cool. The guy at the sports store (oh, and thank you Andrew! I found the store through your link) was wonderful, he gave me a discount to help make up for the trouble I had gone to in getting there, then he DREW ME A MAP to make sure I would get back to where we were to meet Scott and Sky. That took a while as well. In the end, if I had a car, or better directions, I probably could have done the whole thing in less than an hour, as it was, Winter and I walked upwards of three miles all together, and spent around five hours to buy me shoes. Oy.
Once we met up with Scott and Sky, Winter just wanted to rest, so she and Scott went back to the hotel and Sky and I played at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). First I had some poutine, as we were in Canada and it was important that I had some somewhere. (mmm, good) While I ate, Sky studied. She did lots of that. Then we did the museum for a few hours. T'was fun.
At that point it was getting late so we rushed back to join up with the rest of the family and went to the opening night event. In the end, Scott went to the event, and the girls and I hung out with Mark Askwith, who is very awesome, has great stories, and knows everyone. I saw more of Mark this weekend than any other person. If I was going to wind up spending most of my time with just one person, Mark is an excellent choice. We had a nice dinner (well, I had nice conversation, Sky and Mark ate meals, Winter ate rice, and I had conversation). Took a bit of doing and some crossed wires, but we met back up with Scott at a place called Just Desserts, which had just deserts (actually, I think there was some food there as well, just not much. The cake I had was very good, and I really enjoyed getting to talk to Jillian Tamaki, though I didn't know who she was until after she had left. Paul Pope introduced himself to me. Very cool. Didn't really get to talk to him, but he and Scott are both doing books for First Second, so I think our paths will cross again.
Saturday TCAF opened. Scott's first panel was right as the festival started. Sky and Winter chose to hang out in the "green room". Sky studied while Winter read Scott Pilgrim. I went to the panel. The panel had some cool people on it: Tom Kaczynski, Dash Shaw, Jason Shiga and Scott. They showed slides of everyones' work, and mostly, it made me want to read the ones that I hadn't read already. Some of what they talked about was fascinating, I just wish that the artists could have had control of what was shown, there were times that they tried to describe a page or panel, but there was a different page or panel being shown (the moderator had supplied the art).
After the panel Scott and I wandered a bit, which was lots of fun. I got to talk a bit with Rich Stevens and Ryan North. Ryan's reaction to Sky's pronouncement that he is the Ramones of comics, and why, might have been my favorite moment of the day. That and his hamburger being autographed.
At some point we got the girls back, and the four of us went a few doors down to eat a very quick lunch and got back just in time for Scott's solo panel. When I got there, I thought I saw a really long line, then I thought I had imagined it (the festival was in a library, so it was not always easy to tell if people were in a line or just milling around). It was. A really long line. This was a bigger room than the other panel had been in and it only had chairs set up (the other room had rows of desks with computers on them). Due to fire codes, they had to limit how many got in. It was probably good that the girls had gone back into hibernation, as that meant that two more people got in. I felt a bit bad about taking a seat, but I did anyway. I think there were many people turned away.
The panel was not one of Scott's lectures, but was Mark Askwith interviewing him. Mark is very good at what he does (which is interviewing people). The two of them together were lots of fun. Scott had his laptop for when he wanted to make certain points, and there was PAPER, ALL OVER THE WALLS, which Scott was told he could indeed write on. They question-and-answered for an hour and a half. When it was done, Scott went to a signing area, and signed books for an hour.
When the signing was over, there wasn't much left of the day. We got to chat a bit with Mal (Bryan Lee O'Malley) and I'm sure we did other stuff, but that's all I remember. Then we decided to join Mark (told you I spent lots of time with him) and his friend Allison (not sure if I'm spelling that correctly, I really enjoyed talking to her, and I apologize profusely if I've got it wrong). Winter did not like the place that Mark and Allison were eating at, so she and Scott went back to the hotel to eat there (one of Scott's favorite restaurants - The Old Spaghetti Factory- was right next to our hotel) Sky and I stayed with Mark and Allison.
From there we went to the awards (more walking; lots of fun conversation). Yes, I wound up going to the awards instead of the panel that I had been so looking forward to. Don McKellar hosted (which is why I went) and he did a wonderful job. For the most part the ceremony was a lot of fun. We arrived a bit late, though we were there for Don's intro, so we didn't miss any of him, but we wound up sitting on the stairs (well, Sky and I did, Mark and Allison stood in the back).
There were only a few awards, but they still managed to go overtime. Mostly because of the Doug Wright tribute. The awards are named for him, so he is rather important to them. There is a beautiful book that D&Q (Drawn and Quarterly) has just put out honoring him, so they were there to talk about it (the book). My comment on that part: it lasted about 45 minutes, one third of which was really interesting. And Seth is amazingly mad.
One of the awards I knew who won because it was the one that had the slides missing from the nomination portion, which meant that Don got to talk about how great it was and tell you how he really wished he could show you it, while we were just watching the name of the award. Actually, the most annoying part of the ceremony was consistently the slides. They were not as well thought out as they should have been.
Scott has been telling me that I need to read Skim, Friday night I got to meet the artist, and then I watched them win the award so that was cool. Kate Beaton won her award as well. We got to talk to her for awhile after the awards, and she made an impression on all of us, so much so that Sky kept reminding us on Sunday that Kate had copies of her book for us, cause Sky couldn't wait to read it.
But for me, the best part of the awards was that after they were over, Mark kept his promise and introduced me (and Sky and Scott, who had managed to catch the end of the awards) to Don McKellar! I am a huge fan, and acted like a dork, cause, you know, what do you say when you get to meet someone you really admire other than, "wow, I really admire you"? So I did, and I'm sure I did not make a great impression, but he knew who Scott was, so that was cool. I'm sure he would rather have talked to Scott than me (he clearly is a fan of comics, which is very very cool) but he was sweet, and charming, and humored me. Then I turned around and saw Chester Brown, and got my hug, so I felt a little less dorky, cause hey, I might not know what to say to Don McKellar, but Chester Brown knows who I am. (ok, maybe that whole thing makes me much more dorky, not sure).
At about this point in the evening Sky had had enough. I got to talk to Chester for a bit, then came the above mentioned meeting of Kate Beaton, then I needed to get Sky back to the room (Winter had been back at the room since dinner). Scott went to the party after, but once I got back to the room, I just decided to stay. If we had been closer, I might have joined Scott, but in the end I didn't.
Sunday in the end, was not as happy as it could be. We had a great time at TCAF. Scott had one panel, which was much fun. The cast for that panel was: Rich Stevens, Stuart Immonen, Brendan Buford, John Martz, Chip Zdarsky and Scott. It was very funny. Best line: when talking about why people would want to own a book of work that they could get for free on line, Scott mentioned that people like to come to cons to meet people, to shake their hands, something tangible, to which Rich said, "a book is a handshake you take home."
Most of the rest of Sunday we were trying to connect with people we had yet to see. I got to talk for a bit to Carla Speed McNeil and Jim Ottaviani, managed to touch bases with some people I hadn't spoken to yet (I was going to name them all, but then I was afraid I would leave people out, so I'll just say that if I spent time with you, I enjoyed it, if I didn't, then I missed you and I'm so sorry we didn't get to even touch base.)
While Scott was doing his signing, I, with the help of this lovely fellow, whose name I have sadly forgotten (I am very very bad with names) that Chris volunteered to help me (in other words, the poor guy was just standing there, and then he was saddled with me) went to four or five stores that sold DVDs trying to find a bunch of things that I wanted. In the end we only found one (which is why we kept trying other stores), but I did get it. So I am now the proud owner of a DVD of Passchendaele! When we got back from our movie buying sojourn, I swear I saw Don McKellar exiting the building (with his wife? someone). I had this fear that he had just been talking to Scott for the last hour, and that I had missed it, but when I found Scott, he hadn't even known he was there. So I felt better that I hadn't missed something cool.
The sad part of the day was twofold. First, our friend Kennan was actually in the area at the same time we were and we had arranged to meet Sunday to hang out, he was even going to give us a lift to the airport. Sadly, due to a family emergency, he had to take an earlier flight out, so we didn't get to see him at all (luckily he had managed to email me early enough that I knew this, so that we were not waiting and wondering where he was).
The really bad ending to the day though, was when we got to the airport and discovered that we only had three passports. We have NO IDEA what happened to Scott's. As far as we knew, they were all in the same place, but, when the time came to show them, it wasn't there. It took a bit of doing, but we all made it on the plane. We still have no idea where it could be. Scott is leaving the country again in less than three weeks, which means that he will have to lose a day going into LA to try to get it replaced so that he doesn't miss his trip to Spain.
Mostly it was an awesome time. I am sorry this went on so long. It has taken me the entire day to write; I started writing at 11:39am it is now 12:34am (that's 13 hours, not 1). (Besides writing this, I have also brought both children to and from school, did two loads of laundry, had lunch with Scott, walked a mile, had dinner with the four of us and my folks to finally do a Mother's Day thing, and saw Star Trek, so it wasn't all this...)
It is now 1am, my alarm goes off in 4.5hrs, so I am not going to take the time to link to all the people I've mentioned. Scott linked to most of them in his post, and I've linked to that one above. Awesome people! Check them out.