BARCELONA: DAY FIVE

Barcelona: Day Five

By Joseph Rybandt

“This is the End…”

I type this Monday morning, having been to the airport and then back to the hotel as my flight is way delayed. I was able to sleep a bit and now I’m catching up on work, getting ready to head out once more, get a little food, and then hope my plane leaves Spain tonight. I’ve had a blast (obviously!), but I am oh so tired and oh so ready to go home. Fer real…

So, yesterday was the most low-key of the days, with the energy gone and portfolio reviews dragging into portfolio reviews as we were all just so tired. Highlights included a lunch break with David and his artist (where I got to meet Homs! He drew Red Sonja for me for a good long while a few years back) and then a quiet drink with the Diggles and Jock before the big long dinner… Before dinner, I popped out to take some shots of the Plaza de Espanya at night as there’s fountains and lights and stuff and ended up seeing that Jim had stepped out as well for some air. We walked the avenue and as I had Euros to burn before leaving, I bought a bunch of street things, including a tacky fan, long scarf and some cool thing that glowed and shot into the air. Back at the bar, before dinner, we all had a good laugh (that carried through to the end of the evening) at an amazing sample we had seen that day from the man of mystery known only as Tort Swipes! He’s going places… heh!

Dinner was fun… I can’t go into too many details, but Jock and I concocted a plan for fun and it kind of backfired, but we pushed through. It all came to an end with a birthday cake for the Paniccias’ daughter who turned 4 Sunday, here in spain. Pretty cool…

After dinner it was to the Piano Bar, where there was still no player, but I was winding down, and fast… I had meant to go to bed before midnight, but we were eating until then so I was aiming for 1 or 2 but I think that all turned into 3:00… such is life.

And then it was over, hugs were exchanged, goodbyes were heartfelt as we all really bonded and became fast friends. Good times, good people and all that…

Thanks for reading.

-Joe Rybandt
Barcelona Spain
May 10, 2010

 

BARCELONA: DAY FOUR

Barcelona: Day Four

By Joseph Rybandt

“A Quick One While He’s Away”

This is going to be short and sweet because oh lord am I tired. That and the fact that the sheer childishness and obnoxiousness on display last night at dinner on part (aided equally by Jock) can simply not be repeated. It had to be EXPERIENCED. It also can’t be repeated, because the real fun in it was Jock and I basically playing the table by amusing ourselves… childishly and obnoxiously. How did it get to this?

I had fully intended to go to bed by like, midnight… that did not happen. We didn’t sit down to dinner until 10:30, after drinking in the hotel bar for a stretch, winding down after a LONG day of portfolio reviews… during my afternoon break, I had taken in a street fair where I bought some gifts and ate and drank street food, it was a glorious day on all counts at that point. Things were looking UP. Cut to nighttime and David Macho wanted to take us somewhere in town for dinner, and the group turned out to be quite huge (I was originally not going to go, but changed my mind, fateful intervention like the night before. I think everyone is astounded by my indecisiveness, by the way). 5 cabs worth, us in the lead… with the oldest, least healthy and angriest cab driver in all of Barcelona! He did not like me being in the front seat AT ALL. At one point, he rolled up my window, which I rolled right the fuck back down after playing with his little window sign… I think he wanted to stop and ask me to get out. Never been thrown out of a cab before…

Anyway, we got to the restaurant and ate and drank for hours: Lewis Trodheim, Diggle and his wife, Jock, Jim, Brian and his wife, Jeff Smith, David, Gail Simone, and more… As with the night before at La Fira, I realized laughter and energy/movement is the key to surviving really tying one on… our end of the table must have had no fewer than 10 pitchers of Sangria… we had two pitchers with dessert alone; and then there were the spirits, at least six shots of the “yellow” firewater… with the other end of the table staring at the Brit/American spectacle playing out just a few short feet from them. Several moments of silence during the tail end of the evening revealed to the entire table my various addictions, fascination with the bidet and oh so much more.

I recall sitting out in the street after it all, alone soaking up the night hair, digesting the massive hunks of meat I consumed, and clearing my muddled head and watching everyone file out… a much more pleasant cab ride back and we were right back in the piano bar (still no piano player!), joined by the Paniccias for a few more rounds until that closed. What to do! Oh, yeah, the lobby! My travel scotch was mostly gone, but we’d left the bar armed with drinks and set up camp. I casually mentioned I had bought a Ouija board from a local “mystic” shop and next thing I know, I’m in the room (to which I found the hardest core of all porn playing on my TV. I leave the TV on so I have some company to return to at night, and had left it on a channel switches to porn at night, who knew?) and heading back with the board… it didn’t really work, but then again a drunken silly Brit was leading it around, having a laugh as they say and not taking it all so serious. Has he not seen what happens when you laugh at the spirits? Heh…

I do not remember much else, except that I went to bed right in between the other two nights, 4:00AM local time, but this time, the Brits didn’t outlast me, I hung right in there until the very head.

Now, onto the last day…

 

BARCELONA: DAY THREE

Barcelona: Day Three

By Joseph Rybandt

“The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry”

Well, THAT happened… after the events of Thursday night, Friday came a little, um slower as I did not get out of bed until 11:00AM local time. I had the morning off from convention duties and dragged myself out for coffee and some sightseeing. I walked up towards the convention center, near the Olympic village, and then just kind of followed the streets through the coastal part of the town. All the while sweating out nicotine and Heineken (which I am TOTALLY sick of, but it’s the beer at the hotel, what are you gonna do!).

After the walk, it was back to the hotel and then over to the convention center for more reviews. All of the editors were in the same general state of things, having all been out the night before. We’ve totally formed a little lifelong friends thing here in the space of a few days. While waiting for everyone for dinner, Jim (Chadwick, Wildstorm) and I made a pact that we would put in a token appearance at the awards and then hit the bar with David, even though both of us were feeling like doing nothing but moving from the couch of the lobby. Jim found out later I’m shit at pacts, because I blew off the awards and was initially going to blow off the bar, while he had committed to both thinking he had back-up. More on this in a bit…

So, after dinner, Diggle and his wife and I headed to the piano bar while everyone else went to the awards… Jock ended up joining us and then the party returned from the awards looking to gather up everyone for “La Fira” a place pre-trip I had initially been excited to go, but the piano bar (sans piano player) was so dark and cozy and were all enjoying getting pissed and having a chat. Alas, David Macho (who invited me to the Con here) came to round up Jock and then came back or me. He was very… persuasive and Diggle was very disappointed I caved. He stood firm though and stayed behind. Probably the smarter man for that…

After a thrilling race of a cab rider, we arrived. The place was cool, but dead, and it turned out they were out of absinthe, but Jock and I started in on rounds of shots for our group, followed by beers and soon, the place was packed with attractive Spaniards dancing and having a great time. I drank things I would NEVER drink in a bar in the states… things on fire, things that were blue and things I had to use a straw for… all while laughing and with Jock and marveling at Gene Ha’s dancing and the whole scene swirling around us.

We had planned on only staying an hour, but 6-7 shots and who knows how many beers and smokes later, we were rolling out of there around 2:30, back to the hotel, where we JUST missed the closing of the bar, so I headed back up to the room for the dwindling bottle of scotch, but the lobby was not as magical as the night before and we each retired after taking a swig from the bottle… While not quite the end time of 5:00AM from the night before, 3:30 looks just as bad when you have a full day ahead of you in the morning…

I have a plan for tonight, we’ll see if I can keep it (I probably can’t).

 

BARCELONA DAY TWO: PART TWO

BARCELONA DAY TWO: PART TWO

By Joseph Rybandt

I used to have a “never before noon rule”… that shifted to “never before 11”, and eventually slid all the way back to “never before 10”… I go any earlier and I may have to admit I have a problem and that’s not going to end up well for anyone. I mention this because I also now need a “never until 5AM” rule…. because that’s how late I was up yesterday. We not only closed the bar, we closed the entire fucking hotel. We ended up sitting in the lobby, nursing our last beers and lamenting the fact that we had no cigarettes. The crew was me, Jim from Wildstorm (no, not that one), Andy Diggle, Jock (who is the sweetest, happiest guy I’ve EVER met in this business) and Jackie, wife of Marvel Editor Mark Paniccia… he was up in the room. Whose room, I don’t know, I assume his. At one point, it was so late, that the cleaning staff showed up and all the lights went on, after we’d been told to keep it down and get our feet off the table. I get the table thing, but there was no one else in the lobby, who were we disturbing exactly? Anyway, when the lights went up, I fucked off for bed. But the damage was done by that point, because I’d brought down the bottle of scotch from my room and Andy had rounded up his emergency 6 pack of beer. If you ever get a chance, you need to find a Brit to hang with at a con, but your liver WILL NOT THANK YOU for doing this…

I don’t even know what else happened before the end of the evening… I know there was a piano bar with no piano player and I was running around the hotel lobby with a 4 year old, up and down the stairs and down into the ballroom area where we were both told to leave by security… the 4 year old was with us, and she hung in there like a trooper. There was the pre-dinner drinking, where one of the group had their purse stolen, but that all turned out mostly ok… and before that, right after the con, and after a few glasses of scotch and some bullfighting on TV, there was my brief Twitter Tantrum… it’s all coming back, slowly.

Friday is gonna be a long, long day… stay tuned for how it ends up!

 

BARCELONA: DAY TWO

Barcelona Day Two

By Joseph Rybandt

I begin today by recapping yesterday, which I closed out by drinking scotch and watching a bullfight. Not a live bullfight as I would’ve liked (although, there is a former arena, right next to the hotel, but they’re converting that to some bullshit mall/rock n’roll museum), but something on the TV after I packed it in from the con at the end of the first day before what would be one of the longest nights of my life. Literally. As for the bullfighting, what a brutal spectacle that shit is…

Everyone I saw today was pretty amazed I was as alert and mobile as I was. Don’t they understand I’m a seasoned goddamn professional doing this shit? Heh… I guess I was quite a machine of injecting alcohol last night, convincing everyone that you can in fact mix beer, wine, booze and coffee… on top of a lengthy and substantive meal; in fact, it may just be the secret to eternal life. The boys in the lab are working on patenting that formula as I type this.

The first full day of the convention went great, with the organizers planning well enough that I had plenty of time in between portfolio reviews. I’m set up in a little office with a waiting room, along with the other editors and hopefuls parade through with a varying mix of English comprehension, but so far, it’s all worked out. I’ve actually seen some really good art, there’s was at least two artists today I’d hire for projects pending actual project samples and business discussions (i.e. page rate) working out, so bully for all that. I’ve also seen some stuff that’s taken my wits to recover from and find something positive to say (I’ve said several time, “pull the camera back” and I may need to retire that and find a new default for each day, but I really like that one, it makes me feel so terribly informed and important). Towards the tail end of the day, I did find myself being a little quicker to explain that “your style would not work for us in the American market” as I really just wanted to have a drink, watch a bullfight and clean my brain. I never resorted to rudeness or brusqueness tho, we’ll see if I can keep that up as the con progresses.

As for the con itself, it’s a mix of a trade show and a typical comics convention, but with several cool additions like the chocolate fondue booth or the candy booths or the live band wearing skull masks and blasting garage/surf at an impassioned crowd. And they have beer on the show floor, maybe wine, but beer for sure. Americans can learn a thing or two from the Europeans (like, it’s ok to drink beers at lunch AND order a cocktail at the end, in fact, it’s GODDAMN encouraged!). There, I said it…

Had an amusing interchange at lunch with an agent I work with when I noticed a preponderance of blind people walking by our outdoor table (where I was FUCKING freezing in a short sleeved shirt, because the STUPID American didn’t pack a jacket and it’s unseasonably cool, like 45 degrees cool) and asked if Barcelona was known for its blind population and he laughed and pointed out we were sitting next to a school for the blind, which made the whole thing that much more perfect…

All in all, day one of the con experience was picture perfect. I have spent all day not knowing what time it is, because my phone has never picked up the local time and it’s not even my phone, but that’s a boring detail that has kept everything all that much more interesting.

 

BARCELONA: DAY ONE PART 2

Barcelona Day One (continued)

By Joseph Rybandt

It’s actually the morning of Day Two as I writer this, but I left you with only half the day yesterday, and while I have a moment this morning, I wanted to complete the day for you. I write this at about 9:00 AM local time, being up since about 8:00 local time and currently watching some German morning show with an incredibly hot blond host, the only reason I have not switched the channel despite the fact that I understand not what they’re doing or saying in any way, shape, or form. The things we do for beauty…

Now, a few notes about how I roll when I travel for that don’t know me and that’s essentially to live and act like a man with less than 24 hours to live. Especially in that first day, just get it all out of your system. And if you’re dealing with a time change, don’t cave and take a nap or go to bed early or any of that sensible nonsense. You have to push right the fuck on through, to the edge and point of collapse. Works for me anyway. I drank ALL day long and well into the night. Lunch and dinner with fellow guests of the Festival and the local organizers of the show. After lunch (where the wine flowed, literally, like water) and some down time we gathered for a bus trip to a town what name escapes me, but outside the city. By the sea. The Mediterranean Sea, which saved me a walk to it, because that’s one of the things I wanted to see while I’m here and I have now seen it. The trip was to a dedication/announcement of a future Comics Museum they’re planning on building there. It was quite a big deal with local officials., architects and captains of industry gathered for the festivities… and then there was me, wondering if perhaps they’d be wheeling in a cart of booze so I could keep my day’s theme running. Alas, they did not. But, we popped back on the bus and headed to an exhibition also in this same town outside of Barcelona. More on that in a bit…

The cast at this point, aside from the local organizers and handlers included writer/artist/creator Jeff Smith and his wife, Vijaya, DC editor Brian Cunningham and his wife Paula, Wildstorm editor Jim Chadwick and writer Andy Diggle (this becomes important later!). Oh, and Jenny Robb, who is assistant curator at a BIG comics collection thing at Ohio State University. Writer Gail Simone is also here, with her husband, as is Marvel Editor Mark Pannicia and his wife, but they did not join us on the aforementioned trip.

OK, so, the exhibit. Apparently Jacques Tardi has new work out, and the exhibit of his art was being held in a former bomb shelter. Fitting as Tardi’s work was a brutal vision of war, the first world war to be exact. After checking the art and checking my thirst, Diggle and I decided that since we could understand a word of what was being said anyway, we’d fuck off to find some beer. The town we were in had a bustling row of shops and alley bars, all down this narrow stretch that led back to the sea. Wish I’d had the camera with me last night, but if I had, I doubt I’d still have it with me this morning, if you follow me there. But we found beer and made it back to the exhibit in time for the bus, which took us back to Barcelona proper and the hotel, where it was time for dinner (all this being around 9:00PM local time… am I getting too specific in my time stamps? Just giving context!) More wine, beer and food (and some scotch for me) and it all ended up in a smoky hotel bar, discussing the nature of agnosticism vs. atheism… with me and a wonderful Spanish fellow arguing for Agnosticism and Diggle taking the pure Atheist side… there isn’t a thing that can’t be solved or figured out in a smoky bar. Trust me in this…

And here we are, with this weird and wonderful German morning show STILL on, and me having finished my breakfast and contemplating a bath vs. a shower to fully start the day. Salud!

 

BARCELONA: DAY ONE

Barcelona: Day One

By Joseph Rybandt

Worked part of the day yesterday and then hit the airport… arrived ridiculously early as is my wont, but found a little bar and bellied up (as is my wont). Turned out the guy next to me was heading home to Barcelona, so I got a little insight as he and I went beer for beer for a bit (although, he’d been there since earlier in the afternoon., and I’d only had a little scotch before going through security… oh, and a Percocet) and then headed to the plane. Boarding was unexciting and then we were off. All the sedatives in my system kicked in a bit and I dozed until they started serving the meal, which I ate, poured myself a Scotch and Soda and popped a Xanax. This is the only way to fly when you’re dealing with such a long, long flight… no surprise, it all worked and put me out, fitfully, but out… good thing to, because the entirety of the flight over the Atlantic was filled with white-knuckled turbulence.

And then I was in Spain and for the first time ever, there was a person waiting for me with my name on a card. Goddamn it, I’m finally SOMEBODY. A quick bus trip filled with several of the other con guests (Gail Simone, Brian Cunningham, Mark Pannicia and a few others I’m not 100% sure on) and we were off to the hotel, which is located right in the heart of Barcelona. A good sized room with a terribly hard mattress and only one working power plug (makes the TV and laptop mutually independent of each other, but there’s only one or two channels I understand anyway) later and here I am, typing this up in my underwear, contemplating a bath because the tub is muy deep. Oh, and I think there’s a bidet? But it doesn’t look like any bidet I’ve ever seen. I’ll save the experimenting there for after drinks later. Another challenge is that there does not appear to be a clock anywhere in this room, and I plan of leaving my computer set to EST, the phone I have over here has its own time that I think is a cross between local time and home time. I wish I had a watch…

I did do a quick walk around while looking for a bank to turn my dollars into Euros and also popped up to the rooftop pool to look out onto the city and glimpse the Mediterranean Sea. Too cold to swim, though, which kind of sucks. Again, though a little booze might warm the insides enough to take the plunge. This city is an amazing visual experience and each and every place I walk by looks so inviting and filled with incredible things to eat and drink. Hell, in the hotel restaurant I had an awesome cup of coffee and some meat and bread thing I didn’t even know what it was… it was a point and smile kind of thing.

Sorry for the scattershot approach here, but I’m a little tired… got lunch in a couple of hours and then some event at a Comic Book Museum with the Mayor of Barcelona… I’ll try to pace myself for that., don’t want to start things off with an International Incident, especially when I plan on ending the trip with one. Salud!

 

BARCELONA: DAY ZERO

Barcelona: Day Zero

By Joseph Rybandt

So the weekend has passed, the work week begins and as I write this, I’m be getting ready to leave the States for Barcelona. I hear that’s in Spain. Since we last spoke, I’ve gotten a better idea of my agenda while a guest of the Festival. This part intrigues me greatly…

“I’ll bring all interested guests to the most fun and spectacular bar in Barcelona (LA Fira). Why? Because it’s an amazing place that bought the attractions from an old amusement park from the beginning of the 20th century. The place is big, amazing (and yeah, they also sell absynthe, for those crazy enough to drink it!)”

That’s Friday night. I’m pegging my odds of survival at 50/50… maybe 60/40 against… Aside from the social aspect that goes along with every con – this one presenting a unique set of challenges as I don’t speak the local language, I’ll be spending several hours a day reviewing portfolios. Two shifts a day… lots of hopeful artists coming across my temporary and foreign desk. Irony here being I don’t generally do portfolio reviews, at least, not in person like this, face-to-face… with an interpreter! I get a ton of email and mail submissions, but since Dynamite (day job) doesn’t really set up at conventions, the personal portfolio review is not something I do. I’m not all that concerned, I can wing it and critique like a pro, no worries there. It’s funny how different the comics markets are. A lot of talented guys are over in Europe drawing some amazing comics (and getting paid well for it), but a lot of them want the attention and acclaim of the American comics market… I have no doubt I’m going to see a mix of incredible talent and incredible desperation on that front…

Oh look, my plane leaves later tonight. If the sedation doesn’t take hold, perhaps this next entry will be written from there. Cramped, suffocating and slowly drifting into madness…

BARCELONA: PROLOGUE

Barcelona: Prologue

By Joseph Rybandt

So, I get back from C2E2 (ed note: read CWR’s own con report here), tired and still hung over from the previous day’s debauchery to a wonderfully unexpected email from old friend David Macho. David is an artist’s rep/agent that I’ve worked with previously… but this wasn’t an email containing a pitch for work for one of his stable. This was something else entirely.

“As you probably know, I’m the guest manager for Barcelona International Comics Festival. As you possibly know, Barcelona Con is the biggest comic con in Europe, alongside Angouleme, and the fastest growing one, with more than an average of 100,000 people attending every year. The dates of the festival this year would be May 6th to May 9th, 2010. Normally, we bring creators one day before so they can rest from the jet lag and meet with the other guests…”

Now, I did not in fact know that David was the guest manager for the Festival, but what I quickly realized was that he was inviting me. Essentially, “Work schedule would be 11:00 am-2:00 pm portfolio reviews in the morning and 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm afternoon. We’ll set an office for you, and will take care of all the list of people you’d see, since all the pros in Spain receive a mailing been asked which editors are they interested in seeing.”

So yeah, I made a couple of quick phone calls to make sure I could actually do this, reminded myself I did have a passport, and with a metric ton of work drama sorted out, I confirmed my acceptance to David later on that night.

Next morning, I sent a text to good friend and CWR E-I-C Marc Mason, telling him that I’d like to write it all up as a travelogue for him and his fine site (Like I don’t have enough to do…). I suppose if I were more ambitious, I’d go get an HD Flip or something and vidblog the whole thing, but this seems easier, if slightly less exciting. I write better than I talk anyway, trust me, this is better for all (though don’t judge me solely by this, I’m not totally happy with it, but for an intro to this whole thing it works fine).

With ticket in hand, armed with a handful of sedatives and booze for the plane (those things mix, right?), I am away to Spain…