Opinion: The Comic Fair Barcelona needs a change

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After last year edition, there are some critic voices talking about how the Comic Fair Barcelona needs a change and other kind of fair is necessary.

For professional comic book artists and writers, the presence of tons of promotional stands about movies and video games are too much. They don’t like it. For the ones interested on be part of the local comic book industry, no matter if they want it as an author or as a publisher –or even the ones trying to go digital–, we look at this situation shocked, because we don’t know how to approach it.

The feeling is the wind of changes are coming to the fair, at least looks like part of the industry is demand it. But first of all, we should ask ourselves to whom is oriented an event like the one organized by Ficomic. Because you only needed to take a look this weekend on the premises of the fair to see long queues of families, young people and kids, a lot of kids. Nobody seemed to be disappointed to have the chance to play Kinect or have real-size R2D2 around. It’s a normal situation, because this activities are focused on them.

The Comic Fair Barcelona is the city’s big comic book fest, but it’s about the general audience, the ones who loved to watch The Avengers movie on cinemas but who never read a Marvel book in their lives. And that’s not a bad thing. The feedback between the comic book industry and movies or video games is a big thing, and we can’t do like it does not exist. It helps to engage a new audience, create new readers and attract the attention of the media. Why complain about it? You can listen voices asking to publishers to take advantage to the superhero movies boom to get new audience, but at the same time, they complain about the way they work synergies together at the fair.

That said, things could be done better, and one should be knowing how to be more concrete on those synergies. Because it’s pretty clear to me that movies such as The Dictator don’t have the same connection to the fair than comic book based movies –and this is not San Diego Comic-Con.– And ti’s sad to see candy stands having more prominent space than the fanzine section, where we could find our next hero artist. But then again, we should remember to whom is addressed this event.

And here comes the time when is necessary to think if this is what we want or if more is needed. What role have the industry, editors, authors –amateurs too– and entrepreneurs in this event? As how I see it, the fair needs to be more professional oriented. After visiting other big events such as the Mobile World Congress or the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, I can perceive a whole different feeling. The fest itself, oriented to the general audience, could be just for the weekend. But the two firsts days should be a complete professional fair –closed to families and kids,– with activities and talks with a positive impact on the local industry, generating new opportunities and more internationalization. The fairs above, from other industries, follow this path and things are working out pretty good for them.

Now, if they do something like that, we could save ourselves to see associations of illustrators with an empty stand because of the lack of interest. Or fanzine stands in a corner, almost hidden. And instead of prepare a small preselection of local authors to show their project to foreign publishers, this should be one of the main events. This fair should be more than companies trying to sale their products, but companies investing on the growing of the comic book industry and its assets.


Joke just in Spanish, sorry about it!