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As nerd culture seeps into the mainstream like an oozing dead tauntaun, the notion of a family outing to a comic convention has almost become unremarkable.

So you probably already know that both Saturday and Sunday this weekend in Toronto artists, creators and fans from around the world converge on the Toronto Reference Library for the FREE Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF). You should totally go! If you haven’t heard of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, rest assured — it’s not all about the nerds. Don’t believe me?

10 Non-Nerdy Reasons to Spend Part of Mother’s Day Weekend at TCAF


1. It’s Mother’s Day — And The Mom in Your House Doesn’t Like Comics

This is an A+ activity to do with your kids that they will totally love, while you are getting them out of your partner’s hair AT THE SAME TIME. Crazy!

2. It’s Mother’s Day — And The Mom in Your House LOVES Comics

That would be me, obviously, but it might also be you. I’d rather geek out with my kids in a place they’re having fun, than go to a spa with other moms who are kind of stressed out about de-stressing.

3. It’s FREE

I love my kids, but sometimes I’m aghast at how much it costs to take them out. TCAF has all the energy and excitement of a festival without the ticket price. Also, you aren’t stranded in the middle of nowhere – you can go home and eat for free if you want.

4. There Is Kick-butt Kids’ Programming 

TCAF has a separate stream of programming just for kids! It takes place in a building nearby, at St. Paul’s Bloor St. In the Toronto Reference Library, there is also a dedicated space where you can take time to chill out with your kids away from the main rooms. In this room, there are also activities and readings. One year the library brought in a huge assortment of graphic novels for kids to read. It was awesome.

5. Your Kids are Reluctant Readers and The School is All Up in Your Business About It

Comic books have been shown to raise both the enjoyment and comprehension of a text, because the graphic information augments the words. This means that your kids can enjoy a book without struggling through it, which may lead to more reading.

nerd mom photos from comic arts festival



6. Meet the Authors and Illustrators Behind Your (Kids’) Favourite Characters

Nothing like a little hero worship to get your kids excited about books.

7. The Place is Jam-packed With Artists and Writers

Not only can your kids talk to them about their process, they can learn the lesson that all talent needs to be nurtured, and there needs to be a lot of hard work before great things happen. This could possibly stop them from starting a terrible band in your basement? Or inspire them to start a terrible band in your basement.

nerd moms are hot for Jim Zug. Here he is with a cupcake.


8. The Place is Full of Other Families.

If you’re wondering what other kids are reading or which other parents are building your basic comic nerd, this is a great place to meet them and find out.

Nerd mom come rock your baby at TCAF


9. So Many Great Ideas to Expand Your Library!

You get the chance to browse hundreds of tables, which will mean that you will strike gold multiple times, for both you and for your kids. I have scored many, many times.

10. There Are Video Games

I don’t care for them, personally, but I hear the younger set is crazy about them.

This event started on the sidewalk outside the Beguiling, and it is a testament to festival director Chris Butcher and his planning team that it has become so huge and yet stayed so fun. It’s because of them that TCAF is not a geeky cash grab, mint-in-the-box, autograph-palooza, warehouse-bound nightmare.

It’s not a place you have to be brave in or one in which you have to shoehorn your family to respect the whims of comic-obsessed adults. TCAF is about the joyful meeting of creators and fans, not about the best way to siphon cash from the latter. And isn’t that joy something we should share with our kids?


TCAF takes place Saturday 9am-5pm + Sunday 11am-5pm

Toronto Reference Library — 789 Yonge Street, Toronto

Admission is FREE

Aleta Fera is spending Mother’s Day at TCAF. She will also present at the Librarian and Educator Day preceding TCAF, and still can’t believe that she gets paid to help other people teach comics.

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