Monday, November 24, 2008

The comic convention from hell - Die harder !

Just a few days left before my return to good old Germany so let's dive right into my adventures on the third day of the Salon del Comic de Barcelona 2008 :

Today was the hardest day. Saturday is the day when the comic convention has the most visitors and even though I spent most of the day standing in line to get comics signed I couldn't help but noticing it.

First thing I went to PLANETA to get the numbers for Milo Manara. They were also giving out numbers for Carlos Pacheco so I got one of those too and because I was already standing in the line that was building for Alfonso Font I stayed there. It was a few hours before Carlos Pacheco was supposed to sign and I already knew that I wouldn't do much else than trying to get nice sketches.

The good thing about standing in line is that you don't spend so much money on comics and since I was already on a tight budget that worked for me. When you're working in a team like most of the other people did then you can take turns and buy more comics but since I was all alone all I could do was wait. And read comics. The good thing of being at a comic convention is that you can catch up on your reading while waiting. You can read the comics you bought the day before or if you have already read them maybe you can borrow some from the person right before you or behind you.

I was lucky enough to get a nice sketch from Alfonso Font in my new big sketchbook but he didn't draw what I wanted. Not that I'm complaining but why ask people what they want if you are not going to draw it ? So even though I handed him a comic with Power Girl as reference material he drew one of his own female characters. And he did a wonderful job on it.

And you know what ? Nobody did a sketch of Power Girl for me on this convention - although many asked me first what I would like. I think I'm going to give my new sketchbook a name. Something like the " what I got instead of a Power Girl sketch " sketchbook.

After that I stood in line for a few hours but I took a quick break - which is the advantage of having a number - to go to EL JUEVES. I wanted to get something from Bernet but at first I was in the wrong line. Bernet did a drawing in my new big book of a blonde woman that looked a bit like Power Girl....but he only drew the head. You know, if Jordi wants to get more work from DC aside from SPIRIT and JONAH HEX he has got to be more open about drawing superheroines.

Anyway, he also did a quick drawing ( full figure ) in the Chicca Dum Dum 5 ( an adult series ) that I had bought. He asked me why I had bought this particular issue and I told him because it's the newest and I already have BETTY BY THE HOUR in various languages like english, spanish and german so I never know which issues I have if I'm not back home. Then I returned to stand in line for Carlos Pacheco.

He came late but apparently he drew some fantastic sketches. I have seen none of them but I had number 11 and of course he only managed to draw 7 sketches. But he was drawing for a few hours so it wasn't like he was just doing a hit and run. Don't know if the numbers are good for Tomorrow but I managed to get the first five issues of the CAMELOT FALLS storyline signed. In hindsight I should have let him sign all the issues but how should I know beforehand ?

It was now 15.00 hours and since they announced Yesterday that they would change Yesterday's number for Manara for new ones I just stayed at the booth. But they didn't come and change the numbers till 16.00 hours. Now that's just bad management. I'm no expert like my younger brother always tells me but even I from my limited experience can lay down a few simple rules :

Rule 1 - At the end of the signing let people know whay happens next. Tell them what's on the agenda Tomorrow, if you give out numbers and if the numbers of today will be valid Tomorrow.

Rule 2 - You should at least have one person in your team who knows the 411 so he can give people the right information instead of having to rely on radio makuto. At this convention 90 percent of the important information I got through rumors while standing in line somewhere.

Rule 3 - If you have such a person - make sure he's at the signing. If not make him pass the information to somebody else who's on the scene.

Rule 4 - At the beginning of a new day give all the information of who's signing and when and what to your customers as soon as possible. It's useless to announce who's going to sign at twelve when the people are already standing in line for two hours. Especially if the artist they are waiting for is coming late.

Rule 5 - If you say that the numbers from one day will still be valid the next day - then act accordingly. If one person says they will be valid and the next day somebody else is in charge who just gives out new numbers this will not only make you look evil it will also piss off your customers.

Rule 6 - When you are going to change the old numbers for new numbers don't be late. Nobody says anything about 15 minutes but when you're running an hour late - tell someone. At least this way the customers can do something else in the meantime.

Well, I think that are all the rules I can think of now. I know that it sounds a lot like bitching but the first thing of being a professional should be to act like a professional.

That doesn't mean that you can't be late or make mistakes. But it means that if this happens you should let people know. We're living in the goddamn information age for would think people are not too stupid to use a cell phone once in a while. I know I ( and a lot of other people ) would have had much more fun if they only had followed these simple rules.

Anyway, since Manara was supposed to sign at four o clock I just stayed right where I was but 15 minutes later the news arrived ( through radio makuto ) that he had just finished at another booth and had to eat something first. So it wasn't before 17.00 hours when Manara started signing. But the bad news just kept coming : he only did sign and only in books - no sketches. Thankfully I had bought a book Yesterday so all's clear on that coast. The people with numbers are first and being an old comic master no one says anything as Manara starts to do little sketches in the books " till he's bored " he says.

The first time at this convention I'm in luck and he does a wonderful sketch in my book. Yesterday he was only doing some small waves and an eye or something so it was luck that I didn't get something Yesterday.

He smiles as I say " Mille Grazie " and then goes for a cigarette break. Since I have been standing in line nonstop since I arrived and it's already 18.00 hours I decide to take a break, eat something and just look at the Manara sketch. Because of the good weather - it was raining the last two days - the benches are dry so I can eat outside and breathe some fresh air. At that time I don't know it but this moment is probably the higlight of my comic convention experience. Manara is one of the comic artists where I didn't have much hope of getting a sketch but I did it. Yay !

After that I'm kind of woozy and I stumble around a bit going aimlessly from table to table till Ibanez does a signing at 20.oo hours. Last year I only got an ugly sketch and this year isn't much better. I buy the LOVE EXPRESS anthology and JAZZ MAYNARD number 1 but it is all for naught. Strangely enough the writer of the comics also signs the books but he almost takes longer than the artist. Last year I also bought a book but that didn't help. While I got a really ugly five minute sketch the guy just before me got a masterpiece that looked like this.

This time I get a better drawing but it's still not what I wanted. He asked me what I wanted and I told him that a sketch of the hot chick in Jazz Maynard wouldn't be bad ( at first I tried to get him to do a sketch of Power Girl ) but he only drew the head.

What's the matter with some comic artists ? We don't ask for hot chicks to get head sketches. If you only draw the head it doesn't matter if she has a hot body. No one's going to see it anyway. This is the second time I tried to get a sketch from Ibanez and didn't get a good sketch so I don't know if I should try it again a third time. At 21.30 the comic convention closes it's door and after the grueling signing tour de force all I can do is get home with the Metro and fall into my bed exhausted.

Today I didn't buy many comics. I bought Love Express, Chicca Dum Dum 5 and Jazz Maynard 1 which I all got signed and I didn't exceed my limit for today. I got the first five issues of CAMELOT FALLS signed and I got a sketch in my Donna e Motori comic by Milo Manara himself.

The swag wasn't very much since I didn't buy much. At the booth from El Jueves I got the wallet and a bottle opener ( got the same ones last year but they are always good presents ) and for my entrance ticket I got Subaru 11 ( it's some manga ) and the spanish issues of Spider - Man 35, 37, 39 and 41. Because there were more people at the show Today they also gave out more comics. Maybe I should have quit while I was ahead but like I said I didn't know it at that time and I had already paid for the entrance for Sunday anyway.

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