Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Back from Gijon 

So as I mentioned a week or so ago, I spent the week at the SALÓN INTERNACIONAL DEL COMIC DEL PRINCIPADO DE ASTURIAS

This wasn't a convention. An arts festival would be the closest comparison I guess. The organizers brought a number of Anglophone and Spanish cartoonists to Gijon to exhibit their work, meet the public, and shovel down endless platefuls of the local ham. Selling comics was the last thing on anyone's mind.

The Anglophone contingent was James Lloyd, artist of Bongo's Simpsons and Futurama comics, Ian Boothby, who writes them, Pia Guerra, best known for her art on Y the Last Man, Jim Starlin, Igor Kordey, Mike Oeming, and Mike's collaborator Bryan Glass, and of course me and Sara. The Spanish group included Purita Campos and Francisco Ortega (Frank Elliot) co-creators of GINA, and Ricardo, creator of Goomer (and, I found out, the former editorial cartoonist for the Miami Herald.) Alberto Álvarez Peña, Pau, Xuasús and Gaspar Meana. I can't tell you much about the work of the local artists because, alas, their panels were conducted in Spanish. I liked what I saw, though.

Our responsibilities were something less than crushing. Sara and I arrived Sunday, did a one hour Q&A on Tuesday night, followed by forty minutes of signing and sketching. On Saturday at the Haxtur awards I had to stand up and wave when my name was said over the loudspeaker, accept an award on behalf of Esad Ribic, doodle out a big quick sketch on stage with Pia Guerra, and sit for another 40 minutes of signing and sketching.

I have to say that I loved Gijon. Most of our days were spent just wandering the streets or lingering in cafes. Sara's reasonably fluent in Spanish, but I don't speak a word, and I took tremendous pleasure from people watching, trying to eavesdrop with my eyes and just letting the raw sounds of the language wash over me.

Of all the things I saw, what impressed me most was the remarkable dignity of the older people. In the US, senior citizens have a way of looking out of place- sort of shocked by the world around them and ill-suited to cope with it. I didn't see anyone like that in Gijon. They all seemed appropriately dressed, walking slowly with good posture, fitting into their surroundings, confident and content.

It was quite an experience. Our hosts treated us with more respect than we as American cartoonists are accustomed. Sara and I had a wonderful time and are tremedously eager to return. Now, on to the pictures:

Jim Starlin and Igor Kordey.

Eva, Igor and Michelle.

The stage on which the Haxturs were presented. The little blue people are me and Pia doing our quick sketches. And what's that group off to the right?

That's right, it was a bagpipe troupe, blowing and thumping away at full volume while we drew.

Haxtur, himself, as drawn by Victor De La Fuente.

Mike Oeming and Ricardo doing their quick sketches.

Oeming drew Don Quixote. Ricardo did his version of Haxtur.

Jim Starlin, doodling up a big-ass Thanos.

In Spain fans can take a whiz while you work on their sketches.

Apparently this is part of the culture.

Wipe your ass, with Manga!

Me, trying too hard.

These things were nifty. The relay boxes around town were elaborately decorated (with permission) by grafitti artists.

(center and right) Purita Campos and Francisco Ortega.

Pia Guerra and Ian Boothby.

One of seven shelves of graphic novels at the local library.

Sara and a plate of potatoes.

It was a clothing store. The sign was a fucking lie.

Mike Oeming.

Pau, a wildly talented local artist, and Sofia, the organizer of the festival.

Jose M Alvarez makes a bunny.

Doodling was a big part of most lunches.

I try to keep an open mind about these things.

Ripping off Jaime Hernandez and Roy Lichtenstein at the same time. Nice.

The Institute of Culture, where my work was on display.

The poster for my exhibit. Hellboy is looking at a squashed cat he just stepped on.

Me. admiring my own work.

James Lloyd, a mean, mean drunk.

This gorgeous church dominated the waterfront across from our hotel.

And every waterfront needs a giant thermometer, too.

A flyer, illustrating the concept of fascism.

Nothing like a face on a plate to remind you you're somewhere else.

Hi Steve!
Actually, that "Gofres Manneken Pis" is Belgian. It probably is a logo for spanish belgian waffles

Excellent photos! But why none of the many shoes Sara reportedly bought? -- Mim
I wipe my ass with manga every day. Fast action absorbancy!
Damn, Steve, I love your poster. Did you get any to bring home?
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