Once more, we traveled hours and miles away from Brazil to land on the sunny – and windy – San Diego, for yet another Comic Con International, our 16th consecutive year. A lot has changed since our first convention in 1997, but the energy around comics is still just as vibrating as it used to be.
There are many people we've met during these 16 years, some of which became friends and that we cherish our yearly encounter, if only for a very short time on the Hyatt bar or crossing by one another on the convention floor. Some friends have a closer relationship, such as Jill Thompson, who we met back in 97 and was kind enough to make an alternative cover for our comic "Roland" Days of Wrath" back in 99, and today shares the booth with us (she actually invited us to share her booth, to which we are very grateful). Another good friend is Becky Cloonan, the amazing self-publishing queen of comics, conquering every corner of the industry with her charm, smile and amazing talent, who we've met in 2004 and since then have never left our side, and with whom we did some amazing comics like PIXU and our beloved and Eisner winning comic, "5".
A lot has changed in 16 years, for us and for the convention itself. We have been setting up a space for us to stay and get in touch with the public for a long time now, be it a big booth with a Charlemagne statue made of paper-machet (in 1999), or a table at small-press area, one at the Image big island among other creators or the booth we're at right now with friends. And that's because we know this is the opportunity to make the connection between the author and the reader, just like it happened to us all those years ago. Today we have lots of books published, a career that has reached out and now bounces back with all the people who come to our booth to tell us how they liked this or that book, to get one that they didn't have yet, to discover new and old works of ours, to ask for a simple sketch that takes me less than a brief thought, but it's a priceless treasure for them. And the amazing cosplayeres. This is worth all the struggles we go through to be there every year.
I don't really mind all the Hollywood invasion and all the entertainment circus that the convention has become. I find it very fascinating and for the attendees it's an unparalleled spectacle, but it made it more difficult to be part of this whole experience for someone who's not so fanatic and desperate. The tickets sell out in the blink of an eye, the hotels are more expensive every year that goes by and more difficult to get a room. If 16 years ago one could stumble on the convention unaware of it's existence and, out of curiosity, buy a ticket and get in, that's just not possible today. To have a space like ours is a luxury that, if lost, would put us on a seven year waiting list. It's still a gigantic show with lots of exposure and every year new people come and discover us, but it's becoming harder and harder to breath inside the crowded aisles of the convention floor and draw the attention of people who are checking their twitter and facebook feeds on iPhones, or looking up to see Iron Man or the big cave Troll around the corner.
Even the big studios and companies had to leave the building in order to have the room to stand out, taking over restaurants and other venues on the Gaslamp District, flooding the city even more with the craziness of the Comic Con. Luckily for us, one of these exterior enterprises was TR!CKSTER.
For the second year on a row, TR!CKSTER is the space to value art and the creators, not the companies, the franchises, the blockbusters of the summer. It had this amazing vibe and offered incredible symposia with some of the best professionals of the field. A little out of the way from the convention centre, it was a kind of a sanctuary, a safe place for those who just wanted find new amazing books, or to hang out with their idols and friends, talk about comics, art and why it's so amazing.
I'm sure San Diego is still the biggest window for displaying your work on the North American comics market, for showing your face, but what it is really showing are the signs of fatigue on the faces of some of our friend creators, and on our own as well. It can't be just a matter of being there, but remaining meaningful to go. We hear a lot about other conventions across the U.S. that are supposed to be great, like C2E2, HeroesCon, Stumptown and NYCC, to which we've attended once in 2010. The smaller, more alternative ones as well, like Mocca, APE, SPX. We've been to TCAF in May and we loved it out there, such a great creative energy.
The main thing is to keep working on new comics, new stories to fuel the imagination of the readers, to remind them that we are here, far away in São Paulo, but our tales will cross the ocean and find them, be it in San Diego, Toronto, Naples, London, Luanda, La Paz, Rosário, Beja. And we couldn't have done this if we hadn't been attending the San Diego Comic Con International for all these years. It helped to build what we are today, and we hope we have helped building the history of the convention as well.