Here Are TCAF's Can't-Miss Events of 2021

This year's festivities — featuring guest artists, panels, competitions and more — will run from May 8 to 15
Here Are TCAF's Can't-Miss Events of 2021
Photo: Cole Pauls
Toronto Comic Arts Festival is going virtual this year, and the week-long online event features some impressive programming in addition to its vendor marketplace. From workshops to panels to multiple special guests, this year's festival features more comics-based activities than ever before.

While vendors, artists and exhibitors hold down their virtual shops from May 8 to 15, the festival will play host to discussions, competitions and keynote speakers throughout the month of May. As always, 2021's festivities will be free of admission.

Kicking off on May 6 is TCAF's inaugural Comics Night in Canada competition. Artists representing their respective Canadian cities will face off virtually through YouTube in drawing battles over the course of four rounds. Artists representing Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec City will participate, battling it out for the national champion title, which will be determined by viewers' votes. Lis Xu and Jason Loo will represent Toronto's team, and Ilinca Barbacuta will represent Vancouver. Yanick Paquette and Laurence Dea Dionne will represent Montreal, and Felix Laflamme and Julien Dallaire-Charest will represent Quebec City. New rounds of the competition will take place every Thursday night in May at 7 p.m. ET.

The festivities continue on May 8 with the fest's collaborative art and sound event, TCAF + Loop Sessions: Seeing Sounds. Panellists/illustrators Freddy Carrasco, Frizz Kid and Gyimah Gariba will lead a live drawing session alongside the musical stylings of Loop Sessions beatmakers Cheema, Reazhun and Sikh Knowledge. VJ Smith will co-host and provide a live soundtrack for the event. Seeing Sounds will begin at 6 p.m. ET.

On May 9, The Witch Boy author/illustrator and featured guest Molly Ostertag will host a panel with her editor, Amanda Maciel of Scholastic, for TCAF's young adult programming. The artist will discuss her work virtually at 3 p.m. ET.

TCAF will also host multiple panels throughout the week-long event and beyond. On May 11, Derf Backderf, Nate Powell and Ho Che Anderson will appear for the festival's Protest Comics panel, during which they will discuss the "risks and responsibilities of representing past and present protest movements and figures." The next day (May 12), illustrators Lee Lai, Syan Rose and Sami Alwani will appear for the LGBT+ Micro and Macro Perspectives panel.

Featured guest and Japanese manga artist Kabi Nagata has also joined TCAF's 2021 lineup for a special interview on May 12. Best known for My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, Nagata is due to release her newest work, My Alcoholic Escape from Reality, arriving through Seven Seas in May. Visual storyteller Deb Aoki will moderate the interview, which will also feature Nagata's interpreter/translator, Jocelyn Allen.

TCAF's exhibition website has been made in partnership with Canzine (Canada's largest festival of zines and underground culture) and Toronto's Hand Eye Society (a not-for-profit that showcases video games made primarily for creative expression). In lieu of an in-person marketplace, vendor items sold through the virtual marketplace will be sent to a warehouse, where orders will be bundled and shipped off to customers.

For more information on TCAF's 2021 programming, to register for events and to check out this year's exhibiting artists and authors, visit the Toronto Comic Arts Festival website.