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Comics/Graphic Novels

A Very GIF-y Retelling of My First Convention

Gina Nicoll

Staff Writer

Gina Nicoll is a writer and research student in Toronto, Canada.

A couple weekends ago I went to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) for the first time. I’m a newbie to comics, so this was my first comics festival or convention. I’d never been to a general book festival of this scale before either. AND I’m a major introvert who usually spends her weekends alone with a pile of books, not crammed into a library with thousands of people.

That concerns me enormously GIF

But the promise of tons of comics and amazing comics creators all in one space?

I couldn't resist GIF

I got there really early on Saturday, just as the doors were opened. So at first I walked around all the tables, staring without touching anything because I was too overwhelmed by all the exhibitors and comics to know where to start.

Cupcake dog GIF

Then as it filled up with other attendees, I was overwhelmed by all the PEOPLE.

Japan crowd GIF

Seriously. SO. MANY. PEOPLE.

Lion King stampede GIF

But the good thing is I had the not-actually-intentional-but-I’ll-take-credit-for-it-anyway foresight to go to a panel early on, which meant fewer people and a place to sit.

Saved by the Bel patting yourself on the back GIF

AND it was with Kate Beaton, one of my absolute favorites, and Marc Bell.

Fangirling GIF

After getting some laughs out at the panel, I felt like I could brave the floor again.

You can do it

Still, where do I start??

Too many choices GIF

But not to worry. I just dove in and quickly started filling up my two tote bags with books.

Shut up and take my money GIF

I spent the rest of the time going back and forth between panels when I needed to get a little space (and, let’s be real, sit down in an air-conditioned room)…

Star Trek chair gif

… and walking the floor, trying to figure out what I wanted to see and where I hadn’t been yet..

Animal in headlights GIF

… and how to find a quiet corner when the crowds were too much for me.

Hermione relax GIF

One of the highlights was going to a panel with Jillian Tamaki, creator or co-creator of some of my favorite graphic novels, Skim, This One Summer, and now SuperMutant Magic Academy

I'm so freakin excited GIF

After the panel, I had Jillian Tamaki sign my copy of This One Summer and was a bumbling mess.

Awkward alert GIF

Her: “Thank you for coming.”

Me: “NO THANK YOU. It’s…” (long pause)

Awkward smile GIF


Facepalm GIF

Hopefully it’s one of those things where it’s weirder in my head, right? Right?!

Jennifer Lawrence okay GIF

Of course, to distract myself from my painfully awkward ways, I bought some more comics, so many that my arms were aching and my two bags were bursting.

Sore arms GIF

And I also got to meet some fellow Panelteers! They are as awesome in person as online, as in VERY.


We went to the panel “What Do Women Want? Writing Comics for a Female Audience,” which was one of my favorite panels and raised some interesting points about how ingrained sexism is in all of us and how it’s something women need to watch out for in ourselves too.

Smash the patriarchy GIF

Other highlights: Meeting Noelle Stevenson and getting to tell her how much Lumberjanes means to me.

Emotional Tom Hanks GIF

And hearing Lucy Knisley talk about her awesome travelogues and how her next comic book will be a memoir about getting married/a feminist look at the wedding industry.

Give it to me now GIF

I still don’t know how people deal with larger, busier cons like New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con.

No thank you GIF

After two days of TCAF, I was DONE.

I quit GIF

But the books and the cool new friends and awe-inspiring artists made all my introverted struggle worth it. Now the thing is… how am I going to fit all this on my already full bookcases?

TCAF haul


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