Lucca is a medieval walled city not far from Florence. We arrive in the evening and I go straight to a panel being held about the importance of different formats in comics publishing…
On the far left is Igort Tuveri , the independent cartoonist/publisher of Coconino Press . He publishes many wonderful art comics including his own BAOBAB. He is very passionate about the format being in service to the art of the comic. I agree. At the far right is my friend Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz. The two of them engage in an earnest exchange of questions about knowing when to concede to certain market realities. When should an artist give in to a format that the marketplace dictates? Suddenly, I realized this panel was not about the size and shape of a comic at all. If I understand what the conversation was really about, I think the European publishers are not only looking over their shoulders at Manga, but at the new Graphic Novel format. The size of many GNs, like BONE and BLANKETS and many others, including new works by European artists like David B. are closer to standard book dimensions than the traditionally larger European albums. This is an interesting new twist.
The next day I make my way to my Italian publisher's booth, Panini Comics …
From the left is Francesco, me, Marco Lupoi the Publishing Director, and Matteo. Thanks, guys, the book looks great!
Inside the Panini booth, I meet my German (!) translator, Monja Reichert, who happens to live in Lucca.
Panini hosts a couple of great signings, and as a festival Guest of Honor, I also take part in a spotlight panel, where Marco Lupoi agrees to interview and translate for me.
It's a lively crowd, and we all laugh a lot. Someone asks about the shifts in BONE from humor to darkness and back.
My favorite books are the ones that start out like a kid's adventure story like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and grow more complex and dark as the story unfolds. After the interview, I sign books for everyone.
The signings take what little is left out of me – - as soon as I finish, my right arm starts to spasm. But I don’t care, I’m done! The final signing of the European leg of the tour! BEEEYOW!!
Outside, I run into cartoonist Kikuo Johnson.
Kikuo is the author of the award winning book The Night Fisher. You can read an excellent review at Bookslut. And another one at The Onion's A.V. Club. He and ten other cartoonists are staying in a villa just outside of town in the Tuscan mountains. I’ve been talking about Kikuo Johnson for some time now, because almost every journalists wants to know what other comics I recommend, and The Night Fisher is on the top of my list. And for the record, the other books on my current must-read list are: Louis Riel by Chester Brown, Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays, Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and the FLIGHT anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi.
For lunch, I have a big, hot bowl of local white bean soup known as Farro , drizzled with olive oil. This is the best soup on earth, and if you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has tasted it. They’ll back me up.
At long last we're finished. The tour is over. Panini has done a great job with the books, and has sold out of all the copies of BONE they brought to the show. The festival's organizer Giovanni Russo has taken care of our every need from the moment we arrived until we depart. We're very grateful. Tonight we catch a flight to Frankfurt and then head back home to Ohio. Just time for a quiet stroll along the top of the medieval wall that circles this beautiful city. Next time you see me will be back home in the States. Ciao!