It is dark when I land in Athens – - sometime after midnight – - and yet my publisher Lefteris Staurianos (Jemma Comics ), Lida Tsene, and their friend Kostas (who took this picture) are at the airport to meet me. Olympic Airlines has lost my luggage, but I'm too tired to care. Lida and Lefteris offer to take me shopping tomorrow to buy some new clothes. We have a drink and they drop me off at my hotel where I collapse into deep sleep.
The next morning I woke up to this view from my hotel. Not bad!
Lefteris and Lida pick me up around noon and take me downtown to buy a new shirt before the festival tonight. Lida is the head of Comicdom, a very well organized group of fans, artists and academics. This is the second trip to Greece she has arranged for me. We are about to bite into one of the best gyros I’ve ever had. The pita is toasty and the lamb is hot, crisp, and juicy.
Lida hands me an impressive packet of press clippings from the past couple of days that she and Lefteris have put together. There are a dozen(!) articles in newspapers large and small, and some feature articles in the free weekend papers. Jemma’s edition of BONE is making a big splash here.
The book looks beautiful. The amount of news coverage is surprising and a bit of a relief. We are all a little nervous. BONE has never been translated into Greek before, so we still don’t know how the public is going to react to it.
Around seven that night we head off to the Babel Festival at the Teknopilis, a converted old factory yard complete with brightly lit smokestacks and out buildings. This plaza will be swarming with people listening to rock music and wandering around looking at comics in about two hours.
I check out the BONE exhibit. This is only the second time I have allowed a collection of original pages this large go out on loan. Too many things can go wrong – - I decide not to think about it. I wander around to see the other exhibits. Some of them are really good.
These pieces by Oscar Chichoni were one of the highlights.
The wild colors of San Francisco rock poster artist Chuck Sperry are eyecatching.
While I was making some purchases in the small press area I ran into Vasili Lolos . Vasilis has worked with Becky Cloonan, and was in the anthology FLIGHT. He is also the artist for the much talked about new book Pirates of Coney Island from Image Comics. Sorry about the red eye, Vasilis (Somehow I don't think he would mind).
Around nine o'clock, I sit down to start signing.
It was a very nice crowd and sales of the new book are much stronger than we’d hoped.
The reaction to BONE is positive and sales at the book stalls are brisk as well.
After a two hour signing, we cross the now jammed festival yard to join the organizers for dinner. I tried to take a picture of the band on stage, and the crowds around the central smokestack, but these blown out shots were all I could mange.
Chuck Sperry sat across from me at the festival organizers' dinner, and we chatted about home. Tired and happy, Lefteris and I are pleased with our good debut and clink glasses to our success.
If only we knew what was waiting for us at the big downtown store signing the next morning…