The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is one of the most influential and important comic book event in North America. It’s mission is to “promote the creators of comic books in their broad and diverse voices, for the betterment of the medium of comics”. In the spirit of this mission, the Comics Beat is conducting a series of short reviews on some of the phenomenal comics available at this year’s festival. There is so much phenomenal comics at the festival, it would be impossible to talk about everything. We’ll be looking at three comics at a time from TCAF (hence the pun ThreeCAF).

Crucible, by Keelin

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A TCAF 2017 mini-comic about change and the difficulty to enact changes in our lives. It has a certain fatality that is recurring throughout it. Our protagonist routinely spirals downward by thinking things “A tiger’s never gonna change its stripes” and “I’m never gonna get better so what’s the point” even as she realize the need to change things in her own life. No matter how much she tries, it seems impossible. I enjoy autobiography comics when the author is visibly trying to work through some very though personal stuff. In this case, it makes for an interesting mini comic about the impossibility of change. The green and black colour makes for a very moody comic and gives it a very nice look.

In This World, I Can Be Free, by Priya Huq,

Priya Huq has quickly established herself as one of my favourite cartoonist. Her ongoing webcomic Mana was available at TCAF and I happily grabbed a copy, but I also grabbed In This World, I Can Be Free, Priya’s love letters to the Legend of Zelda video game franchise. A beautifully illustrated series of watercolour illustration depicting the impact of the games on her life. I too remember running around alone, slashing bushes with a branch hoping to collect rupees, so I instantly connected with this comic. Priya’s watercolor looks gorgeous throught the book. If you haven’t done so already, Priya has done an amazing interview with us at the Beat. Go check it out, she talks at length about her work and specifically watercolour. You can also read In This World, I Can Be Free on her website as well

Conversations with Antdawg Binobaby & Harish, My King, by Kaeleigh Forsyth and Alabaster Pizzo

A sort of B-Sides to their excellent Retrofit comic Hellbound LifestyleConversations with Antdawg Binobaby & Harish, My King is a mini comic in which we follow two conversations between our protagonist and the two person mentioned in the title. Forsyth and Pizzo makes quite a sparse comic, where almost each page is a fairly accurate depiction of a phone text messaging exchange. The interaction between the characters comes down to the dialog and it turns out to be hilarious. It’s a very short comic and I still managed to laugh a few times. You can buy a copy of Conversations on Alabaster’s online store