Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As I posted last time, I was invited to appear at a Spanish convention last week. Xan and I packed up and caught a plane to Madrid, then (eventually) on to Aviles, a city near the northern coast of Spain. The convention, which was actually a government-sponsored festival celebrating comics from all over the world, was unlike anything I'd ever experienced! We had so much fun! We met so many wonderful people--fans, festival staffers, other comics pros and even the mayor(!), and had so many excellent meals full of fantastic food and great conversation.

The town of Aviles itself was beautiful and very welcoming. We stayed in the old town center, full of ancient medieval buildings and loads of shops, cafes and restaurants. Our days began with a huge lunch at one of several local restaurants, followed by several hours of outdoor sketching and conversation at a cafe just off the town square(luckily the weather was amazing nearly every single day). Every day, one of the attending professionals had his or her own press conference and a presentation in the town's cultural center. At 10PM every night, we'd usually adjourn to the hotel lobby for a little more sketching and talking until the staff took us out for dinner--more food, lots of socializing, and often still more sketching. If we had any energy remaining after dinner, nights usually ended up with most or all of us hanging out in a makeshift bar in the festival's dealer tent, still drawing and talking. Even with all of the around-the-clock sketching, I still wasn't able to get to every fan who wanted a drawing. I hated disappointing any of the fans because they were all so warm and polite and very patient. I definitely intend to return to Aviles, so maybe I'll do better next time. I am happy to report that Tom Strong sells pretty well in Spain and seems to have a decent following.The series has been collected in hardcover albums much like the European comics albums I grew up reading, with paper and printing superior to that of the U.S. collections. I couldn't resist buying them all, along with a Spanish Ocean trade paperback. Anyway, on our final full day in Spain, the festival organizers treated us to a field trip to the nearby seaside city of Gijon, one of the most beautiful places either Xan or myself have visited, with fantastic architecture and breathtaking ocean vistas.

We'd like to send out a big "thank you!" to Jorge, German, Angel, Hugo and Roberto for inviting us, taking care of us and showing us such an amazing time!

- the unusual architecture of the Madrid airport, where we spent an unexpected and unpleasant three hours
- the streets of Aviles
- I haven't been to a convention in over a decade where I didn't see someone dressed up like a stormtrooper, and this festival kept that tradition going!

Top to bottom:

- outdoor sketching at the cafe

- the dealer tent just outside the Aviles Cultural Center

- Spanish fans enjoying their comics outdoors


- the town hall at night

- poster for the festival in the town square

- a local church we saw during one of our nighttime walks around the city


- talking with my hands too much during my presentation in the Cultural Center

- signing and sketching

- Spanish Tom Strong albums


- Meeting with the mayor of Aviles

- a local news photographer has me pose on the mayor's balcony

- the festival was city-wide--here a young girl looks at comic pages exhibited in the local shopping mall...when we saw these pages up close, we realized the poor girl had probably been scarred for life...

Xan & I spent a lot of time walking around the city taking photos of unusual storefronts and signage. Here are some of my favorites, clockwise:

- This store's name translates as "The King of Ham..."

- ...and here's "The Royal House of Ham

- This restaurant sign seems to suggest that the Octopus you can order from the menu will pour it's own drawn butter, or perhaps that the bartender has tentacles...


- a lunch of tapas and cider

- fellow comics pros Rodney Ramos and Renee Witterstaetter

- carved and painted seal in a park at the Cultural Center

Top to bottom:

- one of the many fine restaurants we enjoyed

- here are some of the festival organizers at dinner, including the wonderful German and Jorge

- and speaking of wonderful, here's Fables artist Mark Buckingham with the sketch he did for Xan

Top to bottom:

- fans and pros head to a local bar/disco in the wee hours of the morning

- comics letterer extraordinaire Ken Lopez and me

- Christine and Jim Cheung; Jim was one of the hardest working pros at the con, often sketching at dinner and long into the night

Comic pro guests, top to bottom:

- Mark Buckingham and Lady Buckhingham, the delightful Irma

- Doug Braithwaite and wife Sue

- Gary Erskine and his partner Mhairi with Hello Kitty and Rodney Ramos in the background

More pros, top to bottom:

- Fiona Stephenson and Dean Ormston

- Herb Trimpe and wife Patricia

- Scott Hampton and wife Letitia with Patricia Trimpe

Gijon, top to bottom:

- the harbor

- the lovely Xan overlooking the sea with German and Mhairi in the background

- German, Irma and other guests reach the top of the cliffs overlooking the sea at Gijon

More Gijon, top to bottom:

- local open air market

- just one of the examples of amazing architecture from this city

- a view of Gijon from the beach



Javier cuevas said...

Great to see you there!!
I loved the Con.
Thanks Xan and you for your time and kindly words.

(Hey!Me and my friends talking with Irma...Cool!!).

Chris & Xan said...

It was great meeting you and all the other fans and fellow professionals! We had a great time and hope to return soon!

Saralukies said...

Hey there, guys! Just catching up on reading your blog, and now I know why you were in Spain! Very cool, I love all of your pictures. And I hope you are feeling better, Xan! Glad it's not the swine flu!

We'll be in Ohio for Thanksgiving, you guys around at all? Maybe we could stop by on the drive back?