After numerous flights from all corners of Europe, we finally landed in sunny San Diego. With great memories from our first trip in 2016, we were more than excited to be back at Comic-Con International! This time joining us were three outstanding creators from countries with longstanding comics traditions – Belgium, Serbia and Spain.
For the first event at our booth, we welcomed José Luis Munuera, who is the creator of the rollicking pirate saga The Campbells and the artist behind Spellbound, one of the first series of the Europe Comics collection. José Luis’ captivating drawing attracted all kinds of audiences to our booth, from early to seasoned comics readers as well as comics professionals. Later in the day, José Luis spoke on an all-creators panel, joined by Brit Nick Abadzis (creator of Eisner award-winning Laika) and an Eisner award nominee from the United States, Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin; Polly and the Pirates; Night’s Dominion). During the panel, moderated by Nazeli Kyuregyan-Baron (Europe Comics), the three creators discussed the differences between making it as a comics creator on the two sides of the Atlantic and delved into the subtleties of creating comics for European and American audiences. The panel soon turned into a lively chat between the panelists that led to the conclusion that there are more similarities between the two major comics traditions than it might appear.
Our booth was then honoured to host a distinguished artist from Serbia, Vujadin Radovanovic. Vujadin and his publisher Marko Poznanovic (Darkwood) were an absolute delight to have on board! Vujadin’s bespoke art style and Marko’s extensive knowledge of the market made them fascinating to watch and listen to as they introduced the Serbian comics culture to U.S. audiences. It’s safe to say Vujadin has won himself quite a few new readers for his sci-fi tour de force, Keepers of Lost Time (written by Miroslav Maric).
On day two we were joined by Jean Dufaux, one of the most prolific scriptwriters working in bande dessinée today. He’s the man behind our bestselling series Djinn, Murena, Dixie Road and Raptors. The master storyteller from Belgium was joined at the booth by José Luis Munuera, with whom he created the enchanting Spellbound. After signing Spellbound previews for some fans as well as new-found readers, Jean Dufaux headed to a panel with comics legend Walter Simonson (Thor; Ragnarok; Avengers), during which the two creators talked about their truly remarkable careers. The panel was moderated by Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly, a good friend of Europe Comics. Make sure to check out Calvin’s website and podcast More to Come, where you will find great coverage of this year’s Comic-Con as well as other extensive reportages covering comics news from around the world.
It is now a public secret that Djinn, the pearl of the Europe Comics collection, is making its way overseas to be published in print throughout the USA. That’s why it was twice as great to have Jean Dufaux in town, as he got a chance to introduce Djinn to its future readers during a panel organised by Djinn’s U.S. publisher, Insight Comics.
While we’re on the subject, we have to mention all the other great European comic books present at the Comic-Con this year! If you follow our social media feed, you might already know that several Europe Comics titles have found new homes in the USA. One of the trophies we got to bring back from San Diego this year was the first print issue of Jazz Maynard by Raule and Roger, published in the U.S. by Magnetic Collection. We were also happy to spot Lion Forge’s beautiful poster announcing the release of Kobane Calling by Italian comics prodigy Zerocalcare. The title was originally published by Europe Comics partner BAO in 2016 and is scheduled for public release in English in October 2017. Lion Forge will also be publishing the mesmerizing Water Memory by Mathieu Reynès and Valery Vernay, so keep an eye out!
So many great European comic books have been nominated for Eisner awards this year!
We were joyous to learn that one of Europe Comics authors, Gabriel H. Walta, who was with us in San Diego just last year, won an Eisner award for his work on Vision (Marvel). Huge congratulations to Gabriel on this outstanding accomplishment!
A special shout-out needs to go to the bookstore Stuart NG Books and his busy booth in the Artist Alley at the west wing of the convention center. Stuart has put together an extensive collection of some of the best European comics out there! Titles from various Europe Comics partners – Dargaud, Le Lombard, Dupuis etc. – were on display in their full glory. The centrepiece of our favourite Californian comics store was of course Valerian. The classic French series is published in English by our good friends at Cinebook in the U.K. The 22 volumes of the series, plus special editions released in celebration of the series’ 50th anniversary, were flying off the shelves!! It was truly incredible to witness the amount of interest Valerian received at this year’s Comic-Con. Streams of people would stop by our booth as soon as they spotted our gorgeous Valerian-themed booth design, asking all kinds of questions about the legendary series. We see this as ample proof that with a joint effort from European publishers, and thanks to successful cross-media productions such as Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (hitting cinemas near you this summer!) European comics are swiftly making their way to the hearts of American readers.
All in all, it was another unforgettable year at the San Diego Comic-Con! It’s always terrific to meet and talk to our readers, and to introduce new ones to the vibrant world of European comics. Have we already mentioned that the language of comics is universal?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the photos from our trip here.