Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 1, 2014

Festivals Extra: TCAF Exhibitor Applications Open For 2015; Festival Refines Selection Process

The very excellent comics festival TCAF has opened its exhibitor applications for 2015. That's news in and of itself -- that's a very good show, one of three musts on my convention calendar and probably the closest to running an optimal version of itself of all the shows out there.

What's fascinating, though, is that they're basically suggesting they won't be taking exhibitors every year without a justification for doing so along the lines of a major new work or an absence from the show. They're also emphasizing comics over other, related art forms and suggesting that publishers will be exempt (even though it's hard to imagine a comics publisher going a full year between qualifying releases).

Just off the top of my head, two prominent creators in that world that I remember exhibiting without having significant new comics material for sale -- it was a subject of conversation between me and both folks -- were Kevin Huizenga and Dustin Harbin.

How a show might deal with a set space and an aggressive desire for people to exhibit is one of the two great unexplored issues facing the surge in comics shows. The other is paid appearances, and how that will work and have an effect on things regarding the top-of-the-line guests, and we're close on that, too. As for this, it's kind of a "whoa" moment but when you step back you realize that this kind of thing is one way of dealing with an overabundance of applicants. It might go down poorly with some comics people because of the culture's touchiness about everyone being treated fairly and because a few shows seem to actually prefer to build core expectations in the form of recurring guests year after year, which is a strategy with another set of positives and negatives.

I think TCAF is in the driver's seat here, even though it will be interesting to see how people react. The much more interesting thing will be to revisit the policy four to five years from now and see if it's had an effect on the show's development and what that effect has been. (If you just conceived of the word "effect" there positively or negatively, that may be due to your own initial reaction to the policy.) I'm also kind of interested in the notion that creators will participate in a show without exhibiting, which is a holy grail for a lot of shows. My hunch is that TCAF is further along this path than anyone not Comic-Con and SPX and Angouleme, and if they can achieve that in a significant way, look out.
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink

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