This week, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is moving into the Toronto Reference Library’s new street-level store space as its first-ever retailer. Adjacent to Balzac’s coffee shop, the TCAF store will stock an assortment of graphic novels, comic books, and original knick-knacks commissioned from local artists.
“You’re going to see the kind of names and important books that you’d see at TCAF. So, for example, we’ve got a stack of This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki,” says TCAF programming coordinator Andrew Woodrow Butcher. “We have a bunch of different kinds of merch, but reading, writing, and drawing are the centre of what we’ve collected here.”
Among the non-book merchandise is a selection of TCAF-branded shirts and posters, a “Red Riding Hood tea towel” by Kate Beaton, and silkscreened gift wrap by John Martz.
The public will be welcomed into the space Dec. 3 for an opening-night party that coincides with the launch of Toronto author Chip Zdarsky’s sex-advice comedy book Just The Tips. Although the store is launching as a rough-and-ready pop-up shop, ultimately it will expand its selection to evolve into a year-round gift-shop. Woodrow Butcher says the plan is to host an official launch party in January or February.
“In the New Year we are really going to embrace the fact that we’re in the library,” he says. “Yes, we’re TCAF and we’re about comics. But also people come to the library for a variety of reasons, and we’re all about that. Like: let’s celebrate this awesome building and this awesome institution.”