Saturday, May 05, 2007

My spanish vacation - Part 1

Now I´m back almost one week and I finally found some time to write again.

I had some catching up to do like watching all the episodes of NARUTO, THE UNIT, DR. HOUSE, MONK and GHOST WHISPERER I missed. And I have been two weeks without internet access. It´s crazy how there was a time when we all lived without internet. And I visited my comic shop.

There´s just nothing like going back home to Spain. Not only are the people more normal than here in Germany, in comparision to Germany it´s a comic wonderland. Better comics, cheaper comis, more comics. And when the Salon del Comic de Barcelona takes place it´s sheer comic book heaven. No really. Whenever I come back to Spain it´s like I´m buried under an comic avalanche.

There are just too many comics and never enough money. You see, the spanish comic market is different than the german comic market. In Germany there are not many people who read comics. Therefore the german comics are very expensive and as a result of that the comic market is mainly a collectors market. In Spain there are not many people who read comics. Therefore the spanish comics are rather cheap and as a result of that the comic market is mainly a readers market.

In Germany you can´t find a comic line like Marvel´s ESSENTIALS or DC´s SHOWCASE. Because editors don´t believe than black and white comics on cheap ass paper with hundreds of pages can be sold to the german comic reading audience. Unless it´s Manga. In Spain there is BIBLIOTEKA MARVEL which was started by Planeta and is now continued by the spanish division of PANINI. Those are booketbook sized black and white comics with about 160 pages for about 5 EUROS. Whenever I´m in Spain I buy at least two of them.

Last time I got three volumes of BIBLIOTEKA MARVEL HULK with the John Buscema issues and the volumes I was missing from BIBLIOTEKA MARVEL THOR with the John Buscema issues and the following storyline with the war against the Celestials and the creation of the asgardian gods and the ring of the Nibelungs. If you have a chance try to get the issues with TOMB OF DRACULA. The superb line art by Gene Colan and the excellent inks by Tom Palmer really shine on the small format especially because of the paper quality which is better than in the ESSENTIALs. Even Gene Colan likes it better. Don´t believe me ? Just listen to the BOOK OF THE MONTH episode of Comicgeekspeak about the ESSENTIAL Tomb of Dracula. You can´t get a higher recommendation than that.

Another comic line is CLASSICOS DC from Planeta De Agostini which are either in black and white like KAMANDI or in color like ORION. The size is bigger than pocket size but a bit smaller than US format. And since most of those comics are from DC´s and Marvel´s beginnings a lot of the stuff is from Jack Kirby. So most of Jack Kirby´s body of work is available in Spain at a good price - not like the DC ARCHIVES which are practically unaffordable for the average comic reader.

Now because I finally read the first two reprint volumes of KAMANDI and the entire series of ORION, one of the topics of this post and the next will be Jack Kirby, Jack Kirby´s Fourth World and such. But before we go into all that I have to mention the fact that one of the characters of Jack Kirby´s Fourth World has led to some controversy on the internet : Mr. Miracle´s wife and at one time the first of the female furies - Big Barda.

Firstly because of her appearance in recent issues of BIRDS OF PREY. Now because of my backlog of comics I have to write about I haven´t commented on the book for quite some time. But one of the new members is Big Barda and the confusing part is that while she appears on the covers in her old costume she has a new costume inside.

Which is just like her old costume but with a cleavage window. I can understand the need of some people for exposed skin but COME ON either design a new costume or stick to the old one. But you just don´t mess with Jack Kirby´s classic costumes. I mean it´s not like it was so long ago that she last appeared that it is possible that people have forgotten her costume. She was a member of the Giffen League as well as a member of the Morrisonleague.

And to add insult to injury she´s drawn real skinny while in the script ( and the dialogue ) there are many references to her being a " big " girl and having a few problems with that. Do we really need more skinny superheroines like Supergirl who looks fat next to Deadman ? I think not.

One of the blogs who deal with this whole thing is GIRLS READ COMICS ( AND THEY´RE PISSED ) and if there ever was an aptly named blog this is it. Oh boy. When I started my comicblogging I set out to be a positive voice and every time I wonder if I have managed to stay optimistic I find such jewels.

Now not only is the writer pissed at the above mentioned treatment of Big Barda but another disappointment is the Big Barda bust ( no pun intended ) from DC which shows her sporting her famous red metal bikini designed by Jack Kirby and sculpted after a drawing by Adam Hughes.

And apparently other people are also appalled. The horror ! I don´t know but it´s not as if this is the first time she wears the thing nor is it the only figure / statue of Barda for all those who prefer the Kirby armor look.

Hmm, I wonder what they would think about action comics 592 and 593.

While the covers look harmless enough in the first issue Big Barda falls under the influence of a character called Sleez ( for apparent reasons ) and has to dance for his amusement with not much clothing and do other horrible things that are only mentioned. I never thought about it at lenght but remember : the guy´s name is Sleez.

And in the second issue she almost becomes the star of a porn film co - starring Superman which is only prevented by the timely intervention of Barda´s hubby. Wow, that Byrne guy sure is hardcore. Ah, the glory days of comicbook gold when you could get away with such stuff as long as the cover was harmless enough. At least she doesn´t wear her cleavage armor in the story. Or her red metal bikini.

And I´m not even going to mention all the jokes about Big Barda and her Megarod. Now what was Jack Kirby thinking when he named it ?

Big Barda was based on real life singer / actress Lainie Kazan as you can see by the striking resembleance ( especially by the picture right beneath )but what the heck was the deal with the Megarod ?

But back to the comic convention.

This was my first time at the comic convention in Barcelona because normally it takes place just right before or after my vacation. But this year it was a few months earlier than usual and I made some inquiries beforehand. Guess 25 really is my lucky number because this year was also the 25th anniversary of the Salon. Apropos " a few months earlier " that´s also a big difference between Germany and Spain. In Germany there are a few comic magazines and normally the COMIXXENE is the one covering the Erlanger Comic Salon which is the biggest german comic convention that takes place every two years. Now the COMIXXENE has a track record of always coming out late. Which means the May issue comes out at the end of May but instead of being called the June issue it is still called the May issue. Which in turn means that after a few days at the newsstands it disappears and the newsstand owner wait till the end of next month when the next issue comes out and everything starts all over again.

Okay. Of course that means that the issue covering the Erlanger Comic Salon comes out arrives late....meaning at the newsstands or in the mail just right after the convention is over. The only problem is that everything you need to know is in the issue along with some coupons for free comics and such. Which are totally worthless if the convention is over. No big deal if you always buy your issue at the newsstand but if you have a subscription it means that you have to buy the issue at the convention ( luckily you can get them at the convention ) and when you return home you find your copy in the mail and can throw it right away. If you didn´t loose the one you bought at the convention or give it to someone. Now how is it in Spain ? Like I said, this time the Salon del Comic de Barcelona was earlier than usual which means that instead of the time around June it took place in April.

So the comic magazine DOLMEN which is the spanish version of WIZARD ( only better ) came out a little earlier to cover the convention. It was finished in three weeks and it came out before the convention started.

One thing I learned about the spanish comic conventions is that if you plan to go the whole four days like me you better buy the tickets on the first day. You will feel a sting because you spend 20 bucks in one moment but believe me, you will be glad you did. Yes, hear me now and believe me later. Because unlike german comic conventions where you can buy your tickets at any time without having to stand in line for too long it is really time consuming at a spanish comic convention. The first two days are the " quiet days " which means that you can walk around all right and check everything out. But the line at the ticket booth is already much longer on the second day. And on the last two days it´s just crazy.

If you go to the convention on Saturday or Sunday and you have to buy your ticket you better bring your lunchbox. And I don´t mean to have it signed.

Speaking of signing, usually I don´t take comics from my collection to conventions to have them signed. Because you already carry a lot of stuff when you come back and you never know if you will really get them signed. Many times you stand in line for hours and just right before it´s your turn the signing ends. And you can´t carry stuff to sign for all the artists that are going to appear at the convention. So usually I only take a few selected comics to sign for one or two of my favorite artists. And my little red booklet for sketches. Because more than a signed copy of any comic book what I really like are the convention sketches. I started to stand in line for a friend at a comic convention because he had to work and afterwards I thought " Why don´t you get some nice pieces for yourself next time ? ". And that I did. Now one of the things I wanted to do during my almost two week stay in Spain was to read the SUPERMAN / BATMAN issues by Carlos Pacheco and the following storyarc by Ed McGuiness.

Now one of the issues also has Kamandi as a guest star. Coincidence ? Luck ? I think not. Clearly there was a pattern behind all of it to make me more aware of the works of Jack Kirby. So I took the issues to Spain but when I went to Barcelona to the convention I left them at my mother´s house. Imagine my shock when I found out that Carlos Pacheco was one of the artists at the convention. Just my luck. But who knows, maybe it´s better this way since the last time I met Carlos Pacheco he signed my entire run of AVENGERS FOREVER and now I´m afraid to read them. But it was not a total desaster since I managed to get a nice Wonder Woman sketch for my book. I would have prefered a Power Girl sketch but he just did one for the guy before me and I know how boring it is to draw the same characters again and again.

Which is one piece of advice I can give you : if you want a nice sketch ask for a character they don´t usually draw. The artists are happy if they can draw something different than the last twenty times. And really would you rather have a sketch of a charakter that the artist draws for everybody or would you prefer a sketch that is different....maybe unique. Just one thing you have to keep in mind : you should have some reference pictures for the character you have in mind just to be on the safe side. And also don´t come with a bunch of pages. Have a nice book, no matter which size, that´s nice to look at. One one side you show that you appriciate the art by providing this wonderful book. One the other side the artist knows that you won´t sell the artwork he just did for free on e - bay. And - as a bonus - you can find it easier. Hear me now and believe me later. Speaking as someone who always loses things and misplaces them nothing gets lost faster than a single sheet of paper.

One of the big differences between comic conventions in Germany and comic conventions in least for ME was....


Which still is better than....


Without joking I´ve never walked so much in my whole life. When I´m at a german comic convention I have my homies from SCHWARZER TURM or the ICOM or others and when I´m tired I can sit down for a while and just relax, read comics or talk comics or stuff. At the spanish comic convention I didn´t know anybody. And since it was my first time I wanted to see everything. Big mistake. I was on my feet from beginning till almost the end on the first day and when I arrived at my sleeping place I thought my feet would disintegrate. I thought I could apply for the legion of substitute super heroes as " Feet Fall Off Boy " and do a team up with " Arm Fall Off Boy ". So on the second day I started to take breaks outside on one of the benches.

You just get a stamp on your arm, take a little break and then you can go right back to immerse yourself hip deep in comics. That´s it for today. Next time we will go into what actually happened inside the convention.

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No. Steel. Spider. Why would I say Spider - Man ?

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