Rise of the One Day Show

Now that the holy pilgrimage to the mother of all shows in Canada is over, what do comic fans have to look forward to? Typically, Fan Expo signals the end of summer and along with it the end of the convention season. However, it’s been an unusually busy summer for comics this year. In addition to new shows like the GTA Comic Con and the SuperFan ComicCon, we also have the rise of smaller one day shows like the Toronto Comic Book Show (TCBS).

Now that the holy pilgrimage to the mother of all shows in Canada is over, what do comic fans have to look forward to? Typically, Fan Expo signals the end of summer and along with it the end of the convention season. However, it’s been an unusually busy summer for comics this year. In addition to new shows like the GTA Comic Con and the SuperFan ComicCon, we also have the rise of smaller one day shows like the Toronto Comic Book Show (TCBS).

winners
Some of the winners from the show. Congrats!
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Sandy Sicilia stands next to his impressive array of books.

Being a relatively new show, I understand that it’s a work in progress. There is a lot to juggle in getting sellers and buyers to all meet up at the same place. You have to allocate your efforts and resources to where you think they’ll have the most impact. In speaking with the organizer, I was curious about the efforts he was making… That is, what can vendors expect for the cost of setting up? In addition to the growing mailing list, TCBS advertises the show in local newspapers, Craigslist and Kijiji and other online forums, including the CGC boards. There is also a big social media push with Facebook and Twitter, on top of the TCBS website that is kept updated. Full colour flyers are left behind at local comic stores and posted around town. Rented street signs at key locations around the city has also helped to bring people in. The show is listed on various partner sites that references other related shows. And, being a good host and fair to people, which help to generate positive “word-of-mouth” buzz isn’t taken for granted. In addition to all this, TCBS has hourly give-a-ways at the show with a grand prize draw that makes the collector in me drool. With plans to give away an Amazing Spider-Man #129 at the next show, and an X-Men #94 at the December show, TCBS is fast becoming known for their big give-a-ways. I have to say, I was impressed to hear all these initiatives.

Bin Diving
Bin diving. I was right there beside them after I took this shot.
Peter
Peter from Ajax always has a nice selection of key books.

Great effort, but does it work?

This past Sunday I attended TCBS and I was pleasantly surprised. There were a lot of people in attendance, more than I had expected to see. I saw some familiar faces behind the tables as well as in the aisles. There were some families, lot of ladies but mostly adult males (come on kids and gals… join the fun). There was a variety of merchandise on display, everything from sports cards, movie posters, original comic art, games and toys, art books and of course tons of comics! Comics ranged from cheap $1 bin books to high-end $20,000 CGC books. Although there were plenty of CGC books, based on my own observation, Sunday’s crowd seemed more interested in raw, uncertified books. Considering how expensive some CGC books have become, perhaps the lower price tag on the same uncertified version was more appealing.

CGC books
Some of the high-end books available at the show.
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Frank Chang from Unionville had a mix of books and toys on offer.

Good attendance, but are people buying?

The first thing I noticed as I walked in was people leaving with a bag full of merchandise which was a good sign. Once I started making my way from booth to booth, I couldn’t help but overhear the many discussions and negotiations happening all around me. There were genuine collectors at this show, many who came looking for specific books. I know that some people are curious about the actual sales numbers but it’s difficult to say since it will vary from vendor to vendor. But the few vendors that confided in me said that they sold about $1,000 worth of merchandise in the first few hours, which I though was pretty good. Perhaps some were doing better and some worse, but a lot of this depends the individual inventory and presentation (and a bit of luck doesn’t hurt as well). Being a more focused audience, the attendees came ready to pick up deals.

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Kaz Simaitis and Elana Lang (Tom Lang’s daughter) came in from Hamilton to set up.
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From Kaz Simaitis’ back wall… Marvel Two-in-One, Lois Lane and Wonder Woman pages.

There is no denying the challenges that comic books face, so to start up a series of one day shows in the face of it all seems daunting. However, with an average attendance of nearly 300 people and growing, this particular show seems to be building momentum. Part of the appeal has to be the low cost. The cost of setting up is the cheapest in town, which means less risk for vendors and the cost of admission is only $5 (which includes an entry into all the draws), so for all the excuses we make not to attend the mega spectacle that is Fan Expo, those same hurdles do not exist here. Aside from the low cost, there is also a wider range of vendors. You’ll find some of the same dealers who set up at the big shows but you’ll find shops like Retro Rare from Mississauga  and Comic Book Lounge set up here as well. You’ll also find smaller hobbyists, like myself, who bring in their own collections to sell. But what I personally like about this show is that it’s comic focused. You won’t find corporate media here looking to push their next big thing. Instead, TCBS provides an intimate setting with a casual atmosphere where comic enthusiasts can enjoy their hobby. With another successful show under their belt, TCBS is fast becoming the monthly meeting place for comic fans.

Kevin Polidano
Kevin Polidano, aka the Comic Doctor, aka the Groovy Wizard, came in from Oshawa.
Phillip Pallotta
Phillip Pallotta holding up the grand prize to be given out later in the day… the highly coveted bronze age grail: Giant-Size X-Men #1.

As we head into the colder months, there are planned show dates for October 26 and December 14. This year, comic fans will have a warm place to gather where they can immerse themselves in all things comics. As much as I enjoy the big shows, there is an authentic quality about the smaller shows that I enjoy. I’ve got a table booked for October 26 so I hope to see you there.

Todd Manefski
Todd, Michele and Alex brought in their personal collection to sell.
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Scott Wylie from Aurora with his impressive selection of Bronze and Silver Age books.
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Charlie Kim
Charlie Kim is a designer who is currently transitioning into teaching. While working for various companies, he helped develop many international brands such as the Hong Kong Airport identity, Lenovo’s sponsorship program for the Beijing Olympics and Lavasa, a new city being developed in India. Locally, he's also worked on the 1998 campaign for the Canadian Opera Company, the Canadian Innovations stamp for Canada Post and the terrible Grand & Toy re-brand (hey, they can't all be winners). Charlie’s love affair with art and design all began with comics.
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11 Comments

  1. Very nice report Charlie. Looks like my kind of show. The University of Guelph used to host comic shows like this years ago on sundays and became “must attend” events. They were heavily attended in the dark days of winter. This show sounds worthy of the comic collecting communitys support.

  2. Nice talking with you yesterday Charlie. I certainly enjoyed my time at the show and did well enough to want to return on October 26th. Next weekend Paradise is holding their next Toronto Comics Show in Leaside, and it has a very similar atmosphere as the TCBS, and is also low cost – for tables and admission.

  3. Great report Charlie. This looks like the type of Con/show I remember from the 70s and early 80s. For collectors like me it’s far more worthwhile putting in an afternoon at one of these shows than diving into the corporate maelstrom of product display, cosplay, signings and appearances of hyper-space shows like FanExpo. I’ll make a point of getting out to one soon.

  4. Thanks guys. Indeed, one of things I enjoyed about this show was being able to actually converse with guys like Kevin without having to constantly move out of the way of on coming traffic. Most the vendors seems to know each other, they tease, they joke and they share an admiration for each others books. Guys like Nick Papas and Christian C. are regular attendees who are also great to converse with. It’s kind of like Boogie Nights, only you don’t have to strip down to be a part of this community (thank god).

  5. Charlie
    from a dealer out west , its great to see someone actually posting pictures of the dealers wares , most other sites or people don’t . they just report just what was going on . so kudos to you for posting pictures ! hope other con- goers get in that habit !

  6. Thanks gents. I’ve got a more interesting idea for when I set up Oct 26. I’ll let you know what I’m taking and exactly what I sell. I think documenting the process would be informative.

    Dennis, you should set up with me at the next show. Bring your art…

  7. Charlie great article. I have frequented TCBS and love the comforting atmosphere, and the congenial environment. We should have more of these, for purely comic book enthusiasts.

  8. Thanks! That means a lot coming from a pro blogger like yourself. I think we’re lucky to have this show. It’s perfect for hobbyist guys like me.

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