On the weekend of April 14th-17th I had the pleasure of attending the 29th Barcelona International Comicon. Featuring artists and writers from all over the world, the convention opened my eyes to comics that I had never experienced before. The only downside was my discovery that there were no English books to be found at the convention. I came home with a long list of names that I need to do some research on!
Zombie-themed bands played music every evening
I kicked off the festivities on Thursday by interviewing Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson of Astro City. Thanks to a mix-up with their next interview we had some extra time and wound up chatting about their legendary series for almost an hour. It’s obvious that they enjoy each other’s company and are truly delighted by the work that they do. The convention provided translators to help the Spanish press (and vice versa) understand interviews with the English-speaking creators. Each translator had their own unique way of jotting down notes and turning them back into sentences. They work incredibly fast and it was quite amazing to watch.
Many fans have criticized SDCC and NYCC for being too crowded to move. Barcelona was a surprisingly calm experience where creators can walk freely throughout the convention. Another pleasant aspect was the food! The cafeteria offered crispy baguette sandwiches with delicious Spanish meats instead of the usual greasy fare.
My next interview was with Garth Ennis, best known for The Boys, Preacher, The Punisher, and much, much more. I am a big fan of his work and it was a real privilege to sit down and talk with him. Among other things, we spoke about his new Nick Fury ongoing series for Marvel. Ennis promises that it will "be sort of the Marvel MAX ultimate whirlwind cauldron of hell book".
My last interview of the day was with Charlie Adlard of The Walking Dead! As expected, the artist was in high demand at the convention and was busy all weekend with interviews and signings. We had a great discussion about his favorite type of horror, both on and off the page. The organizers brought over ten chilling pages from The Walking Dead, including Adlard’s favorite quiet panel. Part of a larger zombie exhibition, these pages were accompanied by walls upon walls of gory zombie art. Many fans visited the zombie make-up corner where fans could join the ranks of the undead.
Elsewhere on the convention floor, one of my favorite booths was the Spanish Garrison of the Star Wars 501st Legion. I visited a few times to steal kisses from R2-D2, pose with some Rebels, and giggle at the stormtroopers! Many of the cosplayers at the convention appeared to be high schoolers dressed as characters from anime and manga. I ran into an awesome group cosplaying Kingdom Hearts!
I took a break from the convention on Friday afternoon and visited beautiful Parc Guell. Barcelona is a captivating city with mysterious old buildings, delectable food, and friendly people. The wine is sweet, the cheese is young, and the tapas are incredible.
The con was bursting with illustrious talent and interesting booths. Norma Editorial featured Carlos Ezquerra (Judge Dredd), Busiek, and Anderson, just to name a few. I discovered the work of Reinhard Kleist, a fantastic German artist who has released graphic novels based on Johnny Cash and Fidel Castro. Kleist drew us a gorgeous Johnny Cash and I have already ordered both of his books in English.
Planeta DeAgostini Comics had Adlard along with Brian Azzarello and Dave Johnson of 100 Bullets fame. Superman and Green Lantern hung around Planeta to make sure the creators were protected! The remarkable Eddie Campbell (From Hell) and his daughter Hayley were signing at the Astiberri booth. I was thrilled to discover that Glenn Fabry (Preacher) was also attending the convention. I wanted to ask for something unique, but I just couldn’t help myself and requested a sketch of Jesse Custer. Fabry is working on some incredible new ideas with Steve Niles.
Jesse Custer from Preacher
There weren’t many choices for English speaking panels, but I was able to see Editorial Director of Marvel.com Ryan Penagos (Agent_M) and editor Jeanine Schaefer of Marvel Comics on Saturday evening. They touched on a variety of topics, ranging from what Marvel looks for in a writer/artist to the impact that Marvel.com has had upon the industry. I unfortunately missed the Ennis/Ezquerra panel as it was scheduled at the same time.
The convention featured a beautiful array of art that I immediately fell in love with. One of my favorites was this intriguing piece from Dead Moon by Luis Royo. There was also a large exhibition highlighting popular characters from different countries in Europe. This included two of my childhood heroes, Asterix from Asterix and Obelix and Lucky Luke.
A shot from Dead Moon by Luis Royo
Convention director Carles Santamaria told us about The Center of the Arts of the Comic and the Illustration (CACI), a new museum planned for Spain. It will honor the comic books and illustrations that are a big part of daily life and culture. The goal is to help expose the world to these mediums and will feature work from Europe, South America, United States and Japan. With both permanent and temporary exhibitions, CACI also plans to hold workshops for students along with other activities and areas for research.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience in Barcelona! The convention itself was great, but if you add in a beautiful city and delicious food, the week becomes amazing.
Special thanks to David Macho for press passes and other amenities at the convention!
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