March 24th, 2010

So after 4 fantastic days, the BilBolBul festival was over. It was sad to say goodbye to all the artists I met and the organizers of the festival but my time in Italy was not up yet. The next day I had a free day in which I travelled to a small town north of Bologna called Ferrera - I visited the medieval castle and roamed the streets (which were reserved only for bicycles!).

In the afternoon I returned to Bologna and that evening went with my publisher to a small town called Cremona which has Italy's only center of comics (Centro Fumetto); a charming building which included an extensive library of comics. this whole visit made me wonder - why don't we have a library of comics here in NY??? The Director of the center took us around town and we visited a violin maker's shop. Cremona is the violin center of the world - with a school for violin making. It was quite amazing to see the amount of attention and time required to make a single violin. That evening I gave a short panel on the process of creating comics, following a Q&A session with the director of the Center.

That evening I headed to another small town - Sarzana. On the way there we encountered an intense snowstorm, which was dumping piles of snow on the road. it was quite scary and form a while I thought I'd be spending the night in the car. but eventually we drew closer to the coast and the snow began to disappear. In Sarzana I met Daniele Pignatelli who's the owner of a beautiful little comic shop in the center of town. the next day I was to do a little signing session at the shop, and got to meet some of the local comics folk I also got to see a little bit of the town and a very cool vintage book store with some amazing old Italian film posters. I will mention here that out of all the places I visited Sarzana had just about the most amazing food and focaccia that is to die for.

The next day I woke up went on a short trip to the shore with the daniele and was then picked up by cecco - one of the Double Shot people - who took me to Florence. Cecco did not speak much english but somehow we managed to understand each other perfectly (italian is quite similar to french, which I understand more, also, maybe it was all the italian films I used to watch?). In Florence I met up with Michele - another one of the double shot team who took me to the School of Comics, where I was interviewed by a local Tuscany news network. Following that I went to a Q&A session in a big book store in the Piazza de la Republica, after which I did some more book signing. Afterwards we all went to a local restaurant to have some traditional florentine food, which was fantastic...the next day I had a workshop with some 45 students of the School of Comics. The workshop went well with some surprising art and stories by the students, which all behaved quite well and did a great job!

That evening I roamed the city at night enjoying one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The next day I was taken to my final destination in the trip - a comics convention in the town of Terni, north of Rome. This was a much more 'traditional' comics con, with lots of tables piled up with comics as well as various cosplayers. I found some amaizing gems and old italian comics. I bought so many books that my publisher agreed to send me my treasure via mail so I don't have to log all the books with me. Some of my discoveries included the italain cartoonist master Magnus as well as Andrea Pazienza and others which I will recall as soon as I get my box of goodies in the mail. At night we all went to have a toast at the local comic book store followed by a fancy dinner at the hotel where the artists were staying. the next day I did some signing and took a lot of photos of local cosplayers. At night we went to dinner in a local restauront and I got to meet Gary Erskine - a fantastic guy who also makes comics for Marvel and DC from his hometown in Glasgow.

So that was it, my visit was over, the next morning I was driven to the Rome airport where I had to literally fight my way to get on some sort of flight to New York (Delta oversold the flight... sigh) and of course on my arrival there was no suitcase to be found. I eventually went to the airport a few days ago and rummaged through their lost and found hall - raider of the lost ark style - and found my baby!.