TCAFtermath

tcaf poster

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival was, as expected, a beauteous beast, a many-headed hydra of pure comics wonder. It’s the greatest North American convention, bar none — the most efficiently run, thoughtfully curated, ambitiously imagined show that we’ve ever been to. Every second at TCAF is a teachable moment for us, an object lesson in how to create an event worth of the phrase “comics festival.”

We were lucky to share a table with the incomparable Laura Lee Gulledge, who was there promoting her beautifully sincere and personal YA graphic novels WILL & WHIT and PAGE BY PAIGE. We couldn’t imagine a better tablemate or partner in misadventures throughout the weekend. Go check out Laura Lee’s stuff.

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While our sales this year didn’t quite match the insane explosion of commerce that was last year’s TCAF, we still did very brisk business, turned a lot of Torontonians on to ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE, 36 LESSONS IN SELF DESTRUCTION, and QUARTER MOON, and had ourselves a grand old time.

Seated to our left was the cartoonist and illustrator Renee Nault, whose stunning prints and gorgeous comics we had somehow never seen or heard of before. This is the beauty of TCAF — you’re constantly tripping over geniuses, pushing your way through a horde of visionaries. Renee’s table was constantly thronged by eager comic fans, and sometimes when she would go to the bathroom Andrew & I would sell her stuff, pretending we were the authors of these exquisite watercolor mermaids and comics about witches. Over the course of crappy afterparties at The Pilot House (TCAF! You can do better!) and failed 2 a.m. quests for karaoke, we strong-armed her into doing a little something with us in the very near future.

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Over the course of four days in Toronto we were treated to a mind-blowing lesson in comic shop entrepreneurialism from Alex Hoffman of The Beguiling and a terrifying demonstration of the purposes and iconography of the Australian aboriginal killing stick from Cody Pickrodt. We ate Korean barbeque and okonomiyaki, which is some kind of Japanese pancake that appears to have live fish swimming on top of it. We talked Liefeld with Ed Piskor and watched Tom Scioli scribble endlessly more insane layouts for his face-meltingly weird and original take on G.I. JOE VS TRANSFORMERS. (Tom seemed to be drawing at literally every moment of the weekend, over dinner, at bars, at his table, comics spilling from his mind faster that they could be sketched. Tom is the only person I know who can dominate a conversation with his face buried in a sketchpad. Electricity crackles off this dude like no one I’ve ever met — he seems less a cartoonist than a conduit for comic book revelation.) We caught up with our pals R. Sikoryak and Kriota Willberg, and Maria & Peter Hoey. (When I broke a pint glass in a bar called the Spotted Dick, Maria helped me hide the evidence.) Daryl Seitchik explained the difference between pink noise and brown noise and gave us a copy of her stunning new book 477 BRIGHT CIRCLE. We discovered that there is a place where the pizza is worse than West Philly, and it is called Toronto. We shared in the rare luxury of Porter Airlines with Maritsa Patrinos and Rebecca Mock one way and our hometown Dirty Diamonds crew on the other. We tipped drinks with cartoonists we’ve long admired but never met, like Luke Pearson, Gabrielle Bell and Jesse Jacobs. We shopped at The Beguiling and lusted after their DREAMS OF THE RAREBIT FIEND McCay original. We plotted world domination — pardon me, wider distribution — with Jared Smith of Big Planet Comics. We forgot to take photos. We ate between six and ten pounds of poutine. (Pic courtesy of Laura Lee.)

tcaf poutine

Meanwhile, back at the actual show, we copped books from Taddle Creek Press and Andrea Tsurumi‘s gorgeous new HOW TO POOL mini (to be featured in QUARTER MOON 4), rediscovered Zac Gorman‘s hilarious and heartrending piece of video game-inspired cartoon poetry MAGICAL GAME TIME in physical form, met Christina Ellis (whom I wish we had known when we were putting together our erotica mag), and cracked jokes with illustrator extraordinaire and QUARTER MOON 4 cover artist Steve Mardo. We got really mad at Ben Marra for selling out of TERROR ASSAULTER before we could grab any, then realized that Ben could kick our asses and quickly apologized. We sold QUARTER MOONS and 36 LESSONS IN SELF DESTRUCTION to Peter Birkemoe from The Beguiling, because a comic that’s not in stock at The Beguiling cannot really be said, in the truest sense, to exist at all. We discovered a weird little handmade hardcover book of woodcut porn, and we’re kicking ourselves for (a) not buying it and (b) forgetting the name of it. A little help anybody?

All in all, it was what you expect from this greatest of all conventions: a weekend full of cartoon glory, alternatingly passionate and hysterical conversations, and an ever-widening sense of the constantly expanding breadth and depth of this beautiful, broken industry we call home.

Still, it feels like we were just skimming the surface. TCAF is too big, too beautiful — you’re always in the process of missing out on hundreds of remarkable things. Do we really have to wait another year?

-Josh O’Neill
(& Andrew Carl)

P.S. Whoever’s spreading rumors of the LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL’s incredible ice cream (Little Baby’s!), please don’t stop. But also, don’t forget the puppy truck.

P.P.S. This is what Andrew & I look like when we talk about farts.

tcaf afterparty

To the Capital for Awesome Con

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Locust Moon’s Josh & Andrew will be in Washington, DC this weekend for Awesome Con. Look for the giant banner of Farel Dalrymple’s always-entrancing and eye-catching ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE cover at Table Q12 in Artist Alley.

Here’s the where and when for the con:

April 18 – 20, 2014

Friday: 3pm – 8pm
Saturday: 10am – 7pm
Sunday: 10am – 5pm

Walter E. Washington
Convention Center
Washington, DC

As always, we’ll have all the Locust Moon Press books, as well as prints and fun free stuff. Come find us!

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2013 Festival Tees

Did you dig this year’s Locust Moon Comics Festival poster, drawn by 36 LESSONS IN SELF-DESTRUCTION‘s Rob Woods?

Well, now you can wear it on a shirt!

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Our volunteers were lucky enough to be rocking these babies on the day of the fest, and a bunch of people asked us where they could get some for themselves. Well, now they’re available to everyone! Like, for example…you?

Click here for men’s shirts, and here for women’s.

Just $15 a pop for some really nice quality tees.

You know what to do.

Topless Robot’s 15 Nerdy Stops in Philly

Check out the Topless Robot Road Trips: The 15 Nerdiest Places in Philadelphia. Among other sweet, offbeat things places worth visiting, they’ve got some words for the Locust Moon Comics Festival, which clocks in at #3 on the countdown:

If you happen to be in Philly on October 5th, you definitely need to check out the Locust Moon Comics Festival. An offshoot of the popular comic store/gallery space in University City, this fest–now in its second year–brings together local artists and national industry figures for an event that offers a much-needed alternative to huge cons. The owners of the shop are the men responsible for last year’s amazing Once Upon a Time Machine compilation from Dark Horse, and they have used their cred to lineup an array of guests that includes Farel Dalrymple, Michael Kupperman and Jay Lynch as well as Philly comic staples like Jeffro Kilpatrick and Box Brown. This event is about creativity, not commerce, and it is the perfect example of how welcoming Philly’s comic scene is to all.

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Locust Moon Comics Festival 2013

This October, the LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL returns! If you want to find more info on the festival, its guests, and its programming, check out the Locust Moon Comics Festival website. And if you’re an artist, creator, or publisher yourself, you can apply for a table at the event. But before all that, check out the wonderful poster Rob Woods whipped up for the occasion:

LMCF2013 poster by Rob Woods

On Saturday, October 5th, Locust Moon Comics will host the second LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL, an annual celebration of comics, illustration, and graphic arts, to be held at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia (4014 Walnut Street).

Building on last year’s event, this year’s iteration will feature more than twice as many creators in a larger, more versatile space, and add an expansive schedule of programs including workshops, panels, and discussions on the art, business, and history of comics. More than just a convention, this unique event will honor comic creators and comic creations. The emphasis will be on independent and creator-owned books, as the Rotunda will play host to some of the most distinguished and acclaimed artists, writers, and publishers in the comics world.

The LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL will boast a variety of local Philadelphia talent such as J.G. Jones (Final Crisis), Robert Woods (36 Lessons in Self-Destruction), James Comey (Donkey Punch), and Box Brown (Everything Dies), alongside acclaimed cartoonists from across North America including Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War), Chrissie Zullo (Cinderella), Todd Klein (Fables), Tom Scioli (Gødland), Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle), and Benjamin Marra (Lincoln Washington: Free Man).

The festival will be an all-day affair on Saturday (10am to 6pm), as a cornucopia of publishers and creators vend their wares, sign books, and greet fans. A number of artists will debut festival-exclusive prints, and several will debut new books, including Robert Woods’ 36 LESSONS IN SELF-DESTRUCTION, the long-awaited complete collection of DEPRESSED PUNX mini-comics. While the festival itself takes place on Saturday, events and festivities at Locust Moon Comics will spill across the weekend, including a Drink & Draw, 36 LESSONS book release party, and post-con pancake breakfast.

“This new annual tradition is our way of recognizing and celebrating the huge variety of unique, independent voices in the world of comics,” says Locust Moon co-owner Josh O’Neill. “We want to exalt the infinite possibilities of the medium and acknowledge the intrepid talents that restlessly explore and expand its edges.”

Locust Moon Comics is a retail store, art gallery, and publishing company based in West Philadelphia. This event is the most recent of their many efforts to unify, accelerate, and publicize the burgeoning Philadelphia comic book scene.

Find further information about the event and more guests as they’re announced on the LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL website (locustmoonfest.com), Facebook (facebook.com/locustmoonfest), and Twitter (twitter.com/locustmoonfest).

heroes con 2013

we were in north carolina last week for heroes con. the con has been running for over 30 years and has a reputation for being maybe the best east coast convention, with a family atmosphere and emphasis on comics and comic creators–none of the pop culture nonsense that so many other cons have made the focus of their shows. it’s fair to say we were looking forward to this one.

josh and i left early thursday morning, hopping on a train, where we met up with our roomie for the weekend, ulises farinas. ulises is a fantastic artist and an easy guy to spend 13 hours on a train with. here’s the cover to his book coming out in july…

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there’s not much to say about a 13 hour train ride. we traded comics biz stories (shame on some people out there, ha) and ate lousy train food and discussed the eternal subject, women. we got into charlotte around 9 pm and headed for the hotel. andrew had flown in earlier and scouted out the bbq options, which, by the time we unwound and ulises had donned his RATTICUS costume, were limited. who’s RATTICUS, you ask?

we wound up eating at QUEEN CITY Q, a middle of the road BBQ restaurant that had good ribs, terrible brisket, and weak drinks.

friday was set-up time, and we were in INDIE ISLAND, along with the pittsburgh boys (jim rugg, jasen lex, ed piskor, and tom scioli), chris pitzer of ADHOUSE BOOKS, rafer roberts, and some other folks i’m spacing on right now. we were tabled next to chad bowers, who was from the area and a real nice guy to be stuck next to for 3 days. chad did a bunch of ‘terrible sketches for $1’ over the course of the 3 days, and they were all worth a chuckle. the show got off to a slow start, sales-wise (more on that to come), so i decided to hit the floor, say hi to some folks, and try to get creators signed on to our LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM project.

i saw neal adams with only 1 or 2 people around him and figured what the hell, i’d give it a shot. after listening to some hilarious off-color stories about roy thomas and stan lee from neal, i pitched him nemo. i was excited and a little abuzz when, without too much work, he said yes. this kicked off a pretty spectacular weekend of recruiting creators for the project. when i got back to the table to hear sales were slow but josh had talked to–and gotten a yes from–peter bagge, the tone and type of weekend it was going to be was set. before the end of the day, tom scioli, ed piskor, nick pitarra, shawn crystal, and ben marra had all joined in. we also got to meet drew moss, who illustrated one of the stories in ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE and is doing stuff at IDW now. drew is a swell guy, great finally meeting in person. Continue reading

HeroesCon underway!

heroescon table

Locust Moon’s CHRIS STEVENS, JOSH O’NEILL, and ANDREW CARL are in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend for the city’s beloved HEROESCON.

We’ll be selling books (ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE!) and beautiful prints, signing anything and everything, giving away nice free stuff, and they’ll even have a few little teasers for upcoming books that you’ll only be able to see in person.

Come find TABLE 1028 in Artist Alley’s “Indie Island” — though it’s a huge con, so you may just need a map (click to embiggen):

Locust Moon at HeroesCon 2013

TCAFfeinated

The boys here at Locust Moon are all still recovering from a wild weekend of comic-book glory in Toronto. Editor-in-Chief Andrew Carl, Director of Special Operations David B. Tanh and I, your humble scribe, Megabussed it up across the border in the dead of night, packed alongside a lot of other cartoonists including Annie Mok, Pat Aulisio, Matt Wiegle and Ramsey Beyer. I can’t say I really recommend the 12-hour overnight Megabus experience, but like all things, it was made better by being around other comic book people. Honest Ed'sWe arrived at 9am with a day to kill, and so despite a lot of miserable and rainy weather, we went on a little walking tour of the local comic shops, led by Stephanie Cooke – assistant to Bill Willingham, tour guide to the stars, and generally awesome human. It was our first time in Toronto, and the city struck me as clean, laid-back & friendly…and it also seems to be where all the book stores went. There seems to be a massive 5-story Barnes & Noble, or a tiny little beautifully curated rare book shop, or an outstanding comic book store on every block. The BeguilingWe were blown away, of course, by the absolutely insane cornucopia of The Beguiling. Overstuffed with incredible books obsessively jammed in every open space according to some detailed organizational system only the staff can understand, the place is just a swooning wealth of material. We were very pleased to find that they stocked 8 copies of ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE. And then there’s all the original artwork… Beguiling artOther great shops were the Silver Snail, a beautifully arranged & designed comic/coffee shop where they had a 12-foot topographical map of Middle Earth and fashioned some Adventure Time art in my latte, and The Comic Book Lounge, which seemed to be half comic shop and half event space, with a laid-back clubhouse vibe. Adventure LatteBadly drenched after hours of exploring the city on foot, we feasted on poutine, a first for all three of us, and tried to analyze why something made of fries, gravy and cheese is not popular in America. (We decided the word “poutine” is suspiciously French, has “poo” in it, and “cheese curds” sound gross. Just a branding issue.) PoutineLater on there were drinks at The Pilot, where a lot of cartoonists were unwinding. We had good chats & drinks with hometown heroes Box Brown, Pat Aulisio, and Daryl Seitchik, as well as Charles Brownstein and Frank Santoro. Late night Paul Pope showed up with a BATTLING BOY galley in tow and we got to look through it. I’m trying to find words to express how great it looked, but I can’t, so you’ll just have to wait until October and find out for yourself. We tipsily stumbled back to our hotel room, high on Molson and comics.

Which brings us to Saturday, and the show. TCAF was a thing to behold. Taking over two floors of the Toronto Reference Library and transforming them into a glorious megalopolis of books and prints and original artwork. It’s free to the public, and the place was thronged by more than 20,000 people eager to see everything there was to see and buy everything there was to buy. Books seemed to be flying off every table. TCAF 2013 animated gif by Joanna W
We were in a glass-walled room with the members of RAID (the Royal Academy of Illustration & Design), flanked by ‘Fearless’ Fred Kennedy & Adam Gorham, the righteous dudes from Big Sexy Comics, and local illustrator & printmaker Irma Kniivila, who was selling a whole bunch of gorgeous pieces with the help of her man Charlie. Andrew, reminded of his buddy back home, kept staring at this guy: Irma Kniivila cat printSaturday was the best single day of sales we’ve ever had at a convention, getting almost 100 copies of Once Upon a Time Machine into the eager hands of readers. The action at our table was so intense that we barely had any time to explore the festival floor or check out any of the programming – but that’s an awfully good problem to have.

A celebratory dinner that night was spearheaded by my trusty companions, both world class Asian-foodies, so it was ramen, poutine du japon (yup, that’s a thing), and then drinks at an izakaya, which is a Japanese bar where they bang a drum when you enter and bring you delicious snacks every 10 minutes while you drink; as far as I can tell, this represents total mastery of the drinking experience. ramenpoutine du japonWe closed out the night back at The Pilot, where a lot of very gifted cartoonists were busting out some gloriously ridiculous dance moves.

The next day, in true Sunday-at-the-con fashion, everybody seemed a little rough around the edges. It was sort of nice, though, that the energy level was lower, because it gave us more time to walk around and talk with people. I had nice conversations with Sam Hiti, Matt Kindt, Ross Campbell, Lilli Carré, Salgood Sam, Ed Piskor and many more, as well as old pals like Jim Rugg, Ben Marra, Brendan Leach & Paul Little. I picked up copies of Josh Tierney & co.’s gorgeous SPERA, Sam Hiti’s delightful children’s book WAGA’S BIG SCARE, and Frank & Becky’s TINY KITTEN TEETH, in which they drew this amazing Nemo sketch: Little Nemo by Becky and FrankThen dinner at this great tapas place in Kensington (Toronto has its own Kensington!), the TCAF afterparty at the legendary Lee’s Palace, and a soju-fueled karaoke blitz with Pope, Hiti, Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, Ivan Brandon, Frank Santoro, Steve Manale, Jimmy Aquino, and a few other awesome comics folks. Watching Dave & Paul duet on Let’s Dance was quite a way to end a pretty perfect comics weekend. One billion thanks to KILL SHAKESPEARE maestros Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery for hooking us up with the great cartoonist Ramon Perez, who helped us get our table despite missing the application deadline. This was the best convention we’ve ever been to, and we owe you guys big time.

Goodbye, TCAF, you beautiful beast. We will see you next year.

-Josh O’Neill