Around the same time that 'In the Flesh' came out with Random House, an italian version saw light by a small publisher - Double Shot. One of the stories in the book - 'a date' ended up winning an award for best short story in the big comics festival in italy at Lucca 2009. Following the award I was offered to have a second book out with Double Shot, this would be another collection of short stories with a mishmash of old and new stories ( the book is called 'Anatomia il Desiderio').
So, a few months ago I got an email from my publisher inviting me to come to a short 'tour' in italy promoting the books. Needless to say I immidiately agreed.
I started my trip in the town of Bolognia where I was invited to be one of the guest artists at a unique comics festival called BilBolBul. The festival is named after a character in an old italian comic strip featuring a small black girl by the name of Bilbolbul who could physically transform herself according to her mood. What's so special about this festival is that it puts emphasis on cultural events rather then the commercial side of comics. there's no big hall with wolverine action figures for sale, no artist alley, no piles of erotic manga or cosplayers. Each of the artists invited to the show had his own gallery show, conversations and Q&A as well as periodical signing sessions in the main hall of the Bolognia library, a beautiful renaissance structure that used to function as a stock market. In italy (as well as in france) when you are asked to sign a book you must also do a dedicated drawing for each person - quite different than the US where to most you can get out of an author is a quick doodle. Here are some pics from the signing:
Publisher Stefano Visioni and his Wife Milena (who discovered my comic 2 years ago in paris!)
I soon met the other artist who was invited by my publisher, Ricardo Liniers, who does a fantastic daily strip for one of the largest papers in Argentina. Liniers was much like his comics, intelligent, funny and positive. I soon also met Joanna Hellgren a swedish cartoonist who makes dark brooding pencil stories. We were quite a weird gang - the Isreali/American, the Argentinian and The Swedish girl, together with the various italian friends it made for quite an international combination.
Ricardo Liniers, Joanna Hellgren and Emanuele Rosso
The festival opened with a large show of the works of David B. (who was also one of the guests) and an italian cartoonist named Paulo Bacilieri who makes unique, obsessive, sexually frustrated comics. The show was set in the museum of archeology of the city and featured some beautiful original art from both artists. Following that all the artists and orginizers were invited to a big dinner. I was honored to sit at the same table with such people as David B. and Lorenzo Mattotti. In italy dinners start late and end even later, the pace is much slower then new york with sometimes as much as an hour between courses. I'm happy to say though that the food and wine was so amazing that I didn't mind the wait. Following the dinner we went to a warehouse in another part of town for a party where there was live jazz and a cartoonist who painted a strange scene. It was all very avant gard and I felt almost like I was in a scene of La Dolce Vita, in fact all that was necessary was for things to be black and white.
one of the many dinners I attended, this one graced with a special appearnce by Igort, who looks like
an old italian mobster (not in the picture) - that's me on the right.
Live painting & Jazz
Two days Later I had my big day in the fest - it started with some book signing, followed by a Q&A at the local bookstore in Bologna and later the opening of my first solo show with some paintings, drawings and many many pages of comics. The show was set in PivArt gallery which is located in the modern section of town, I have to say that when I first saw the job the gallery had done I was totally blown away, it was on par with any up scale gallery in Manhattan. What more the gallery was very spacious and the work was set up in an intelligent and skillful manner. The opening night had about 200 people show up, in additional to the young attenders there was also a large crowed of old italian ladies with huge coats made out of various dead animals, apparently the gallery usually shows traditional paintings and the invites were sent to their usual cliental. All in all though the opening was a fantastic experiance, and I am truly greatful for the people of the festival, the gallery and my publisher who made this happen.
The following day I attended the gallery opening of Liniers at the hotel where all the artists were staying. Lineirs was assigned to paint a mural inside one of the rooms and he did a pretty fantastic job.
Later that night was the wrap up dinner for the festival with some 70 or so people attending...it was loud and fun, and a great way to end the first portion of my trip. More to come in part II !!!