Friday, July 11, 2008

Salon del Comic de Barcelona - fanzines part 1

It's about time to get some new content on this blog and reading the last few comments it seems that I have been neglecting the comic part of this blog too much for some tastes. So I thought : let's return to the comic convention from hell ( otherwise known as the Salon del Comic de Barcelona 2008 ).

I have already told a bit about the avalanche of catastrophes that came crashing down on me. And there was more to come. Like on my last visit I decided to go to the fanzine section first. The first day is always the slowest convention day so you can check out all the booths without having to plow throug the crouds. Which means that most of the convention goers are at the big publishers so that the fanzine section resembles the badlands from Star Trek Voyager. So they are always happy when someone stops at their table and buys something. Come on, these guys are the soul of the industry.

Anyway, everybody else leaves it for the last day to spend their last bucks. But come on, that never works out. We all know it. So after getting the news that Adam Hughes was not going to appear and that the possibility of finally getting a Power Girl sketch

seemed like something out of an pre - postnuclear wasteland.....I thought : at least I can get some new cool stuff at the fanzine section. What could possibly go wrong ?

Well, to begin........I couldn't find them. They weren't at the same place they had been the year before and it took me a few hours to find them. This time they were more in the center of the convention ( last time they were right before the exit ) so that was a big plus for them but it was distracting for me. And not all of the fanzines that were representing last year had decided to return. According to the internet USTED is alive and well but they had no table and I couldn't find any copies at the dealers tables.

But what hurt even more was that SENOR K was not there. Last year I couldn't buy all the issues and I had really hoped to read more about everybody's favorite spanish nazicat.

The only magazine that I remembered from last year was RANTIFUSO. They constantly put other publications to shame ( especially if they claim to be more professional or think they are better like COMIXENE ) and they make it look easy : not only did they publish RANTIFUSO 5 since last, with a bit of effort they also managed to finish issue 6 just in time for this years convention.

And I use the word magazine instead of fanzine because with it's bookshelf format and all the pages in color they can compete with any book from big time publishers like Marvel or DC. Like most of the comics I bought in the fanzine section. I mean RANTIFUSO offers you 52 full colored pages for a measly 3 bucks - they crush the competition. You don't get a 52 pages book from Marvel or DC for 3 bucks.

Like I said, there were two issues out so I chose to buy issue 5. I had planned to buy issue 5 on the first day and issue 6 on the last day....I know. Sometimes I don't listen to my own advice. I should have known that on the last day I would forget all the important things - like buying the DEATHNOTE simulacrum. It's a deathnote notebook that comes with a real feather ( yes, the one from the animal ).

But back to rantifuso 5 ( from now on I'm going to write it in small letters because I'm a lazy bastard.....sue me ). Last year I wrote a pretty harsh review of issue 4 in part because I didn't understand some of the stories. Yes, on top of being lazy I'm stupid. In some stories I had problems with the spanish language and in others I took what was meant to be a satire as a serious story. Sometimes it's a bit hard to understand spanish humor - like the results of this year's eurovision song contest clearly showed. Viva chiki chiki !

Anyway I was rather anxious to find out how this new issue of rantifuso was going to compare to it's precedessor. Because like I had already commented in the review of issue 4 in my opinion they were just one small step from playing in the big leagues. And like last issue once you turn the really cool cover you find a plethora of the most diverse short stories.

The first one MAUI EL TRAMPOSO ( Maui the cheater ) by Bodo tells a folk story of the polynesian god Maui and how he tamed the sun. I did a bit of research and that's real polynesian mythology. The graphic part is really appealing but there are some lengths in the story. Now I don't know if that's intentional to resemble the storytelling ryhthm of old folk tales or if it's to give the big events more breathing room. For me it didn't work out. In this instance the lenght of 8 pages works against it. Like we say here in Spain : the good is twice as good if it's short. Apart from that it's a really good story. And if you want to do some research about Maui here's the wiki link :

  • Maui the cheater

  • The next story SETAS ( mushrooms ) by Juan Fender is a good example for a story that sticks to the basics. With 2 pages it tells everything it has to tell even if the end is not THE most surprising one.

    What is really surprising is LA VIDA DE MIERDA ( Life of shit ) the real highlight of the book. With it's 6 pages it's one of the longer stories of this anthology and also the crowning jewel. I remember that back in the days when my brother and I were still young and naive and thought that german comic readers were clamoring for top notch stuff from german comic artists.....well, we tried to work with these guys from GERMANIA COMIC TEAM. They were really good with the press releases so we tried to work with them but the stories they wrote were always very boring like they were written for little kids. Little retarded kids that don't go out into the civilisation too much. We tried to convince them to do riskier stuff ( some of the other artist really liked our ideas ) but they just didn't see comics in that way. Anyway, their main argument was that you just can't tell a good and solid story on 8 pages.

    Well, chupate esto ( like they say down here ).

    Daniel Utrilla ( story ) and Samu ( art ) have created one of the best stories I have read in a long time. Without exaggeration. This one has it all : comedy, murder, poetry, suspense and a really beautiful love story. Maybe Spain and it's people have a special affinity to shit. My mother told me that during the Franco regime the people were not allowed to curse and say stuff like shit and that it was a great deal when they finally said things like shit on national television. When people down here say shit it's like a bit of personal freedom. Maybe that's the reason this is the second time ( after FIZ ) that I discover a really great comic about shit. A great story that can teach us a lesson : life's a shit but love always finds a way.

    The next story O LOBISOME ( o werewolf ) by Dani and Elena ( 8 pages ) is - like the title implies - a werewolf story and a strange one at that. There was already a story in the last issue by this creative team that I didn't quite understand. Like this one. Just weird.

    EL FINAL ( the end ) by Juan Ferrer seems like the opposite to me. I suppose the two pages are the last two pages of a really interesting and captivating story. But for me that's a clear waste of potential. I think it's a really perfect starting point for an excellent crime fiction story. As a reader I want to know what happened to the main character to arrive at this point in his life and what happens next. Sadly we will never know. But that just shows some real storytelling skills - to make the reader care for the characters and their story.

    I also didn't like the next story HYENAS ( it's the same in english - duh ) and that's mainly because I am unaware of the context with the spanish history. What I CAN say is that I liked it much better than the last story by this creative team where at the end it's revealed to be just a bad dream. Dear comic writers : please come up with something different. Anything. The worst thing that can happen to you as a reader is that at the end of the story it turns out that it was all for nothing. Just a bad dream. Or it was just a clone. Or that they were never married and that it's not a retcon and all the stories happened...they just weren't married, okay ? Let's just ignore that kind of stories. Can we do that ? I know that this alone would improve the quality of a lot !

    The next two pages present EL NINO CABRON ( something like " the asshole kid " since most spanish four letter words are impossible to translate or at least lose a lot of strength in the translation ) is another story by Samu - this time flying solo. A really witty take on Yves Saint Exupery's LITTLE PRINCE a children's book that's quite famous in Spain. You see ? I get satire - if I know it's satire. What's really strange is that in this book I like the stories that don't really shine in the art appartement. Despite the fact that I'm mainly an arts guy. Well, that just shows how important a solid story is.

    And talking about solid art - that's what Y COMO SABEIS QUE ESTA MUERTO ( and how do you know it's dead ? ) offers. A short zombie story by Eduardo Ocana with a hard hitting end. I know : everybody is doing zombies. But since this isn't the newest issue ( remember : they finished issue 6 for the Salon ) it's understandable that it doesn't follow the newest trends.

    A little more upbeat is EL TALLADOR DE ESTRELLAS ( the starsmith ). The fairy tale is told on two pages and combined with LA VIDA DE MIERDA this issue of rantifuso turns out to be a rather prosaic issue.

    Last but not least INDIAN SUMMER by David is my second favorite story in the whole issue. The question remains if it's so good BECAUSE it's only one page or IN SPITE OF the fact that it's only one page. Aside from that it's obvious that it has fantastic storytelling because it almost impossible to come up with a surprise ending on one page. Overwhelming ! I can only say : Ole !

    On the following page is a collage by Ela titled CAIDA LIBRE ( free falling ) and I'm not quite sure if it's a comic story or a work of art. And here I thought David Mack's KABUKI was hard to read. Not my cup of tea but if you are into that kind of each his own.

    Aside from that this issue has a double page spread by Monica Armino called GRUPO RANTIFUSO that would have been a wonderful wraparound cover, 2 pages of sketches and 3 alternative covers.

    So what's the verdict ? In my last review I wrote that it's only a question of WHEN rantifuso is ready to play in the big leagues and not IF. It was evident that that moment was inevitable. The truth is you are never ready to make the big leap. Because you're never prepared - not really. It's sad that I forgot to buy the next issue to see if the rise in quality continues and if they could take it one step further. I'm very anxious to see the progress of this publication.

    Excellent work guys ! Just continue in this direction. Here is the link to their blog if you don't want to look through all my old posts to find it. Sorry, no permanent link on the linksection but those are only for guys who put my blog on their linksection as well. I know that's hard but otherwise nobody puts links for my blog on their websites. Yes, it's hard out here for a comicpimp.

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    RantiMasterBlog said...

    Muchas gracias por sus palabras con respeto a Rantifuso !!!

    Nos alegra que te haya gustado y lamentamos haberte respondido tan tarde

    Es un placer ver que tenemos amigos en todo el mundo!

    Mil gracias y nos seguiremos viendo por los salones!


    Using a translator, forgives the mistakes, please


    Thank you very much for your words with regard to Rantifuso

    It makes us happy that you have liked it and we you regret having answered so late

    It is a pleasure to see that we have friends all over the world!

    Thousans thanks and we will continue meeting for the events


    Vielen dank für Ihre Wörter hinsichtlich Rantifuso

    Es macht uns glücklich, dass Sie es gemocht haben und wir Sie bedauern, so spät geantwortet zu haben

    Es ist ein Vergnügen zu sehen, dass wir Freunde in der ganzen Welt haben!

    Thousans dankt, und wir werden fortsetzen, uns für die Ereignisse zu treffen!

    SUBZERO said...

    Gracias por las traducciones. La aleman esta casi perfecta.