I was fortunate enough to be chosen to draw the historic and best-selling comic book short story featuring Spider-Man meeting President Barack Obama in "Amazing Spider-Man" #583. The book received worldwide attention, news coverage, and made record breaking multiple printings.
Lots of eyes are seeing my artwork these days, and I have been consequently invited to many different conventions and store appearances. Among those is what the promoter says is the world's largest strictly comic book show, 27 SalÃ³n Internacional del CÃ³mic de Barcelona, the Barcelona comic convention in Spain.
This is my report and photo parade, which I hope will give you an accurate comparing and contrasting of a European convention to a North American convention. My main point of reference will be the biggest American show, Comic-Con International in San Diego, which I've been attending since 1994.Â
To start off, the Barcelona show runs Thursday through Monday. That's a pretty big difference from the traditional North American con. Most every convention I've attended in the U. S. ends on a Sunday. I knew to go through a weekend with one more day of conventioning was going to be unusual.
Friday was my first day and from the beginning there seemed to be many initial similarities: publisher booths large and small, vendor booths, people in cosplay, etc. But as I stopped and checked things out more closely, I started to see some differences.
A lot of the comics sold at the Barcelona show are European comics (obviously) and they are mostly hardcover collections. I believe some of these hardcover comics are of original material as well. I also saw a fair share of Manga and collections of American comics (Marvel, DC, Image) translated into Spanish. I did find a couple of booths that sold individual comics in long boxes, but those were pretty scarce. At an American convention, there are longboxes as far as they eye can see.
The publisher booths had books for sale and artists and writers on hand for scheduled signings, which is fairly similar to what you see at San Diego Comic-Con. Also familiar are the many booths selling toys, t-shirts, and collectibles, American, European and Japanese. But one booth that really surprised me was selling candy by the pound. This booth was bigger than some of the smaller publisher booths!
And like San Diego, there were quite a few art displays featuring attending illustrators' works (such as Jim Lee and myself) or spotlighting a certain character like Spain's plucky heroine, Esther, or Flash Gordon.
A big difference I noticed was the lack of an Artists' Alley at the Barcelona show. There was no place for artists to set up shop to sell their original work or produce commissioned art and sketches. That's a big part of my convention experience at San Diego, so I kind of felt at a loss! But because of this I could actually take the time to walk around and look at things. Usually, at a North American con, I hardly leave my table.
On Friday, I had three scheduled events: two interview sessions and a meeting with the Mayor of Barcelona. The first interview was with SpainComics.tv and Rosanna Walls, a popular Spanish actress. She interviewed me at the President Obama tribute art display, where my work from "Amazing Spider-Man" #583 was displayed. Rosanna didn't speak much English so we had a translator help us out.
Soon after, the Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, stopped by the President Obama art display where I met him - along with all sorts of photographers, videographers, and security! Mr. Hereu was very pleasant and very interested in comics. Apparently, he attends the Barcelona con every year and stops by the many booths and displays to meet and greet publishers and creators. I'm sure he shakes hands with quite a number of comic book fans. I cannot recall any political figure showing up to an American show, at least no one that I've met.
My last interview of the day was with a couple of young men who run a very popular Spanish website that spotlights comics, movies, and music. They spoke English so there was no need for a translator.
So, that was my first day at the Barcelona show. Stay with CBR for more from my con experience, including Saturday's activities, which saw me at several booth signings, giving me a chance to interact more with fans!