This is the second-to-last post from my trip to Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) last weekend. I'll be putting one up later tonight with photos and capsule reviews of all the minis/zines from TCAF.
From my short time walking around Toronto, it because very clear that it's a comics and books-heavy town. Tons of used shops of different sizes and flavors flanked the University of Toronto campus, and I kept hearing about various cartooning events and shops carrying comics while I was there. Though I didn't make it to Magic Pony (gallery & shop), I did take time to make a pilgrimage to The Beguiling!
I'll go ahead and state my thesis up front: I think The Beguiling is the best comic shop in North America. While I did love Forbidden Planet in NYC, and Star Clipper in St. Louis is pretty great, I think The Beguiling takes the crown. Their closest competitor is the East Bay's massive and rad Comic Relief, which definitely bests The Beguiling in terms of sheer size and number of volumes.
The Beguiling felt different though, like it had been curated just to my tastes by someone with a strong love for the diversity of crazy shit out there. They had the most recent mainstream floppies on the racks, original prints by Mark Beyer, rare panel art for sale all over the walls, the biggest manga section I've seen (outside of Japan!), a treasure trove of minis and zines right by the front register, Spanish, French, and untranslated manga stacks, and a super helpful and knowledgeable staff. What more could you possibly ask for?
Here are a few photos from my visit:
TCAF posters past and present cover the front windows
Tintin guards the door, of what looks to be a converted Victorian house?
The Beguiling's Chamber of Secrets (aka, the minicomics & zine rack!)
Up front: my buddy Hellen Jo's excellent comic Jin & Jam #1 (go buy this!) and her earlier comic, Blister No.5.
What do we have hear? Copies of Electric Ant #1! Most were unsold, but thank you to the 4 brave readers who picked it up in Toronto.
And this was only about 1/3 of the store's manga selections.
The sign of a healthy shop... copies of Tokyo Zombie in stock!
French manga compilation, featuring a p-p-pretty rad contributor list.
French manga nerds got it better than us- the entire run of Taiyo Matsumoto's No. 5 was published there.
French edition of a Shin'ichi Abe book.
French edition of Akino Kondoh's manga Eiko (from our friends at Le Lezard Noir). Kondoh is featured in and on the cover of Top Shelf's upcoming AX Anthology Vol. 1.
I thought I took more pictures than that, but hopefully it gives a taste of the goodies within. Hats off to co-owners Peter Birkemoe and Chris Butcher on running such an excellent shop.