Karen and I made it home from Toronto last night, capping our visit with a four-hour-delayed flight we were lucky to get on at all. Oh, Air Canada. The trip, and the Third International Comics & Medicine Conference that was my excuse for the trip, were otherwise spectacular.
If I start writing about it, I'll never stop. Nobody wants that. Instead, I'll post and annotate some photos that capture my time in Ontario. Many of the pictures below were taken by Karen. Huge thanks to all who attended and participated. Everyone I've heard from agrees it was a very successful event!
|The conference was held in the Health Sciences Building of the University of Toronto (beautiful campus). We had several rooms on the first and sixth floors at our disposal, including a large auditorium and lobby on the sixth.|
|At our opening reception Sunday night with one of our keynote speakers, Joyce Brabner, co-author of Our Cancer Year and widow of writer Harvey Pekar. Behind Joyce is our other keynote speaker, Joyce Farmer, creator of the graphic novel Special Exits. This was the Year of the Joyces.|
|I don't think we'd ever throw a conference without Paul Gravett, the British dean of comics criticism and scholarship. Paul gave opening talks in both London and Chicago, and did the same for us again in Toronto. Remarkably, it's always a different talk. Paul has written and edited many books, the latest of which is 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die. When I demanded to know why I didn't make the cut, Paul assured me I was #1002. I believe him.|
|The Toronto comic book store The Beguiling set up a table at the conference to sell books by conferees as well as others related to the topic. Owner Peter Birkemoe also hosted a special public event on Monday night after the first day of the conference. More on that later!|
|Two excellent books for sale at the Beguiling table. I'm not necessarily referring to mine. However, both my books did sell out at both the conference table and the Beguiling shop itself, so I was very pleased.|
|After a full Monday of panels and such, we retired to the Beguiling and The Central restaurant/bar next door, which Beguiling owner Peter Birkemoe had arranged for us to take over for a special open-to-the-public interview of Joyce and Joyce by Paul.|
|First thing Wednesday morning, the organizers met at Toronto's Centre for Social Innovation to participate in a group interview by journalist Desmond Cole, who attended the entire conference and really seemed excited by the subject. I'll let you know what comes of it; meanwhile, here's an article Desmond wrote about one of our conference speakers. He also loaned us a room where we did some more post-conference analysis and began making plans for the next one (if you're affiliated with a university or similar community institution and want to do a ton of work for no pay, let me know!).|
Also, after seeing this photo from Michael on Facebook, it occurred to me that we came this close to accidentally arranging ourselves in order of height. This is the only black mark on Shelley's otherwise exemplary performance during the conference.
|Wednesday night was Laydeez Do Comics, which requires some explanation. Laydeez began in 2009 when Nicola Streeten and Sarah Lightman gathered a group of women in the UK to talk about the comics they made. Laydeez quickly grew as a creative forum, social group, and salon that welcomed comics creators (both women and men) to take part and tell their stories. Laydeez have also expanded geographically, from London to Brighton to San Francisco to Toronto, and their meeting Wednesday night was set to coincide with the Comics & Medicine Conference, at which both Nicola and Sarah spoke. And that's where I got together with cartoonist Mike Cope, cartoonist Sandra Bell-Lundy (creator of the syndicated comic strip "Between Friends" and one of the speakers that night), cartoonist/illustrator/author Patricia Storms, and cartoonist Jonathan Mahood (whose comic strip "Bleeker the Rechargeable Dog" is a charmer). All were Internet pals I'd never met in person before arriving in Toronto. Mike Cope had to introduce himself because I had no idea what he looked like. Patricia and I go way back; she was one of the first pros to reach out to me at the start of Mom's Cancer and was thanked for it in the book's acknowledgments. This was a special treat.|
And now for something completely different: a selected gallery (this isn't all of them!) of pictures I took of Karen and me by holding the camera at arm's length with my left hand:
|On the campus of the University of Toronto.|
|Thursday, getting ready to board the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls, which is behind us. We rode the train down from Toronto, which took about two hours and we hoped might be scenic. It wasn't. That's all right; the falls more than compensated.|
Thanks again to the conference participants, the organizers, the volunteers, the Laydeez, and the kind people of Ontario (excepting a few at Air Canada). Nice country you've got there.