Monday, October 25, 2010

Valencia's Comic Convention - Mostra de Comic

This weekend I was able to visit a small comic convention that took place in my hometown of Valencia. As I've said before, not much happens here, and this was the first edition of this convention (there have been other ones, but I've never been to those) so I was pretty excited to see what they had to offer. On the guest list, there was a mix of old and new talent, working both in the US market as well as the European one. On Saturday, I made my way over to the center of the city, to see what Mostra De Comic had to offer. Hit the jump to see my account, including photos of the event and scans of the sketches I got.

Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this is a very small affair, since it's actually a part of a bigger exhibition which centers around films, La Mostra del Cine de Valencia. Because of this, many of the events and showcases centered around comic's connections with other media. It's actually a week long event, with plenty of different showcases. One of the most notable aspects is that during this week, they will be showing all of DC's superhero movies (both animated and live action) as part of DC's 75th anniversary. They even organized it so that each day is centered around a character ( for example, one day they would play all the Superman movies). Additionally, there's an exhibition of movie props and costumes from all eras of DC's film history.

I wasn't there for the movie aspect though, so I headed over to the area that concentrated on the comics. It's a very humble group of stands, out in the open for anyone to wander and walk through. There were at most fifteen or twenty stands, a mix of local retainers and publishing houses. Though I did look around through them, I only bought one single item, Las Calles de Arena (I had previously read it from the library, so i didn't own a copy). I looked around for other new books to try out, but the prices weren't any lower than they normally are, and I didn't want to be carrying around the books for the rest of the day.

Dave McKean Panel. McKean is the one in the center.

Asides from this main area, a conference room in a nearby multimedia store was reserved for talks and panels with creators. At around noon, I made my way to there, because there was a panel with legendary illustrator Dave McKean. The panel concentrated on all of his career, from his comic book in the 80's such as Arkham Asylum and Black Orchid, to his seminal work in covers like in Sandman and numerous other prose books and to his most recent career as a cinematographer. It was a pretty interesting talk, and it centered a lot in his early days. It was particularly fascinating to hear him talk about his early partnerships with Neil Gaiman and the both of them meeting DC editors. Sadly, the interview process was slowed down because everything had to be translated into Spanish. Obviously necessary, but for someone like me that speaks both languages, it meant that I got to hear everything twice.

Art collection.

In that same room, there was a small showcase of original art (from the looks of it, the personal collection of David Macho). Though it was only a couple dozen pages, there was artwork from industry heavyweights like Jack Kirby, Howard Chaykin, and John Byrne, as well as some of the new faces of the industry, like Pat Gleason and J.G. Jones. Again, because this was set to coincide with DCs 75th anniversary, all of the artwork was from that company.

Pictured: Dave McKean, Salvador Larroca, and (partly covered) Pascual Ferry.

Back at the stands, there was now an author signing, or so I thought, featuring Salvador Larroca (Invincible Iron Man) and Pascual Ferry (Thor). As it turned out, this was more than just signatures (which I don't really care much for), but the artists were also doing free sketches! And me without a single sheet of paper on me. I settled for just watching the two of them draw for other people, and they were shortly joined by Dave McKean (who had a noticeably longer queue). There were going to be more artists later in the afternoon, and I decided I would make a trip home and get a sketchbook. I wasn't going to miss any of the events, because the con schedule includes (in a typical Spanish fashion) a two hour break in the middle for people to get lunch and maybe a siesta.

Pictured: Guillem March and Pere Perez.

When I came back, there would be three more artists doing sketches: Pere Perez (Batgirl), Guillem March (Gotham City Sirens), and Ramon Bachs (Red Robin). All of them were sharing the same table, and there was quite a short line (at most ten people). There was a single line (poor organization, but it’s the first year), but the shortage of people in it meant that I could go through it several times and get sketches from all of them. I saw the opportunity to try something, and I basically asked all of them to sketch on the same page, each one doing a character of their choice. First I went up to Perez, who did a great Robin (Damian Wayne), then March went second and drew Batman (with one of his arms over Damian’s shoulder, a great touch to unify the piece), and finally Bachs drew Alfred Pennyworth standing next to them. Here is the final piece.

Sketch by Pere Perez, Guillem March and Ramon Bachs.

Finally, and I know this might be against convention etiquette, but I went up to March again because there was absolutely no one in line waiting for him, and he looked honestly bored without anything to do, so I asked him if he was alright doing a second sketch for me. He graciously accepted, and I just told him that he could draw whatever he felt like. In return, March drew this great Azrael piece. It’s actually quite striking to see March working, as he used different pens and markers for a single (free) sketch, and it honestly looks great. I’m very thankful, and I hope I didn’t piss him off.

Azrael sketch by Guillem March.

Remember that I mentioned earlier that I bought a copy of Las Calles de Arena? I did because I knew that the author, Paco Roca, would be present later doing signings and sketches in one of the booths. I headed there and there were also a couple of people waiting. After a couple of minutes, it was my turn and I chatted with him for a while. It was actually a pretty funny situation, because after I told him I had just bought the book, Roca said something to the effect of “Hope you enjoy it when you get to read it”, and I replied that I had in fact already read it from the library, but that I enjoyed it so much that I wanted a copy for myself. In return, Roca handed me back the book with this message in it...

Translation: For Matias. Who had the chance to steal Las Calles the Arena from the library, but decided to buy it.

Finally, there was one last panel that I was interested in attending, which was called “Three Views of Comics” and featured Salvador Larroca, Pascual Ferry and Paco Roca. The discussion centered a lot on their creative process and professional career, including their work day, but it also touched on other topics like the use and benefits of technology in comics, and the ever popular digital piracy topic. It was quite he educational experience, particularly comparing Larroca and Ferry’s work schedule which is in the American market, and strictly as pencilers, with that of Roca, who does graphic novels for the European market and takes care of the whole creative process (from writing to coloring the final product). The round table was much more dynamic than the one with Dave McKean, and quite funny as well.

Pictured: Salvador Larroca, Pascual Ferry, Paco Roca, and the moderator of the panel.

All in all, it was a pretty good experience for such a small affair. There’s obviously grounds for improvement and growth, but you really can’t ask much for the first year. I enjoyed the time there, I got some good sketches, attended a couple of small but interesting panels, and I am definitely looking forward to it next year.

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Ivan said...

Seeing that all those guys are kinda old-looking fills me with hope, since I'm learning to draw and my stuff looks like shit. Lots of time for improvement I guess. :P

Sounds like you had a great time! Recently there was a convention not too far away from me, and they had David Lloyd, Joe Bennett, Ivan Reis, Luke Ross and some other guys, but unfortunately I could not attend.

twobitspecialist said...

Larroca was actually doing sketches?

Matt Duarte said...

@Twobit: Yeah, he was doing sketches, but from what I heard from a couple of people, he only did a handful, because he was going pretty slowly and time ran out. Same thing happened to McKean, who was just doing very basic sketches.

twobitspecialist said...

@Matt - I only brought that up because of what you said before about Larroca in Invincible Iron Man.

Matt Duarte said...

@Twobit: Ha! I actually got to ask a question during the Larroca/Ferry/Roca panel, but I didn't bring that up. I don't want to be *THAT* guy in any convention. But yeah, he was sketching, and he was taking his time with them too. Whatever my feelings on his art, he seemed like a nice enough guy, and he was incredibly honest and forthcoming during the panel about his thoughts.

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