Well, it’s Day 2 of my epic journey and my love affair with Toronto continues … After making a great first impression yesterday, I became even more enamored with the city today.
For starters, it’s so easy to get around! You can catch the subway, streetcar or bus – and, with a little bit of patience and fitness, you can easily get around on foot as well.
That’s what I opted for, so I decided to start my tour of Toronto’s comic shops with Silver Snail on Queen Street West. I’d heard mixed reports about Silver Snail, with some claiming it was too mainstream or too corporate, but that couldn’t be further from the truth …
Sure they have a lot of toys, statues and other memorabilia, but they also have a huge selection of comics and graphic novels as well! What’s wrong with a little diversity if it’s done right?
The best part for me was actually chatting with the manager, George, and his assistant, Kody. Not only were the great guys who were passionate about comics, but they also treated me to some great coffee from Little Nicky’s nearby.
We also ended up going for lunch together at BQM Burgershoppe where I tried the amazing Riverside burger … Wow! What a great way to cap off a brilliant start – I think I want another one before I go.
George and all the staff at Silver Snail were so incredibly hospitable that they set the bar pretty high for everyone else. In fact, I’ll be seeing them again on Monday before I go.
I went back on to Spadina Avenue and made my way along to Anime Xtreme. Although not a traditional comic shop, Anime Xtreme has an incredible selection of manga books and anime toys, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Sadly they didn’t have Strawberry 100% Volume 4 (which I’m still searching for), but they did have a good mix of other stock on hand. I was quite taken with the ‘boob mousepads’ which feature a nice gel support for your wrist.
From there I veered off on to College Street and stumbled across a place called Sneaky Dee’s that George had told me about earlier. Aside from being a rather happening venue in the evenings, it is also a great place for cheap beers and eats at all times.
Dean behind the bar was incredibly helpful and more than happy to chat, which really enhanced my day. I enjoyed a couple of local brews while learning a little bit more about places to go and things to do in Toronto.
I left there with a gentle buzz and went searching for The Beguiling, one of the most famous comic stores in Toronto (and probably the world). It was a bit of a hike to get there, but I finally found it tucked away on Markham Street, just off Bloor.
The Beguiling has an incredible reputation thanks to famous clientele such as Joe Matt, Seth and Chester Brown who have really pushed the store.
Peter, the owner, has been featured in comics such as Seth’s Wimbledon Green; and Chris Butcher, the manager, co-founded the amazing TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival) which is usually held in May each year.
I had a wonderful conversation with Chris, but tomorrow night will be the big one as I’m going for drinks with him and some of the other staff after attending the Polaris 25 sci-fi convention during the day.
Of course, my day didn’t end there … I made my way back along Bloor Street to The Labyrinth, another one of the city’s fine comic shops.
I wouldn’t call this a comic shop in the traditional sense as it’s more an art book store with a focus on illustration, animation and graphic design. Some of that encompasses comics, but they’re much bigger than that.
By the time I left there it was getting close to 5pm and I thought I should head back to my hostel before deciding on my plans for the evening. I had to check my emails, freshen up, and basically regroup before I thought of anything else.
In the end I decided to go to a Toronto Bluejays game as it was just down the road and I knew they were playing the New York Yankees. I’d originally intended to go last night, but got a little excited about Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking.
I got there early and managed to watch the entire game from start to finish. After I while it started to make sense and I figured out the rules too.
Baseball is an incredibly relaxing game, particularly with good friends, good food and some nice drink. Sadly I had none of that, but I enjoyed it very much anyway …
When the game finished it was getting late and I was feeling thirsty. After wandering around for a while, I discovered a late night wine shop where they sold a delicious Canadian cider called Growers 1927.
I’ve casually been drinking a couple of those as I write this report, so apologies if it’s got a little boring or lost some of its steam along the way.
Suffice to say I’ve had a great day and, as it says at the top of this column, it’s only Day 2 … I haven’t even reached San Diego yet! There’s so much more to go.
Tomorrow I’ll be at Polaris 25 sci-fi convention across town, then meeting up with Chris Butcher and The Beguiling crew in the evening. Hopefully I’ll still be in a fit state to write my daily report when it’s all over … See you then.