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What to expect at TCAF 2015 in Toronto

TCAF 2015 kicks off in Toronto this week, and though it's a joyous time of year for fans of independent comics and graphic novels in Toronto, the annual comics fest is, year after year, becoming a growing draw for artists and publishers from across North America.

The two-day fair at the Toronto Reference Library is still the main draw, with hundreds of exhibitors taking part, but the calendar of affiliated events is rammed, and the list of new books and featured artists is stronger than ever (plus, there's that new gift shop to check out). Clear some space on your bookshelf.

Here are my picks for what to check out at TCAF 2015.

Top talent
This year's festival lineup doesn't skimp on the special guests: Scott McCloud, Seth, Adrian Tomine, Lynda Barry (a first-time TCAF visitor) and Jillian Tamaki are among the featured attendees, with the latter four appearing at the festival's kick-off event May 8.

Hot new releases
You'll find plenty of new must-reads on the tables at TCAF, but several are getting their own launch bashes: Mary Sue editor Sam Maggs' The Fangirl's Guide To The Galaxy, the fourth issue of Ethan Rilly and John Porcellino's Pope Hats, and Geoff Berner and Tin Can Forest's dark folk tale We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians.

Local content
If you missed the film adaptation of Toronto-set graphic novel SNOW, you can see it for free at the fest. There's also some notable books from Toronto creators debuting including the latest from Skim and This One Summer's Jillian Tamaki, SuperMagic Mutant Academy; Jenn Woodall's FIGHT! zine and the trade paperback of Kat Verhoeven's St. James Town-set Towerkind.

Digital extras
The festival's collab with the Hand-Eye Society, Comics Vs. Games, returns for a fourth year to give visitors a taste of the latest and greatest in indie gaming. (They promise you can find love in a cat cafe, defuse a bomb or throw things at a bear, and if that doesn't sound like a fun weekend, you are beyond my help.)

Party time!
The festival's after-hours programming provides plenty of chances to rub shoulders with your fellow artists/geeks/both: A Wednesday night Drink & Draw, the official welcome party on Friday, and the Queer Mixer and TCAFete double header on Saturday (the latter DJ'd by the beautifully-named Chest Hair Brown).

Did I miss any? Leave your top picks for TCAF 2015 in the comments.

Photo via tracer in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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