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The Official Bryan Talbot fanpage / Articles / Conventions

Bryan's report on the Milan festival


The forth annual NOVEGRO FUMETTO comics convention took place in Milan in the last weekend of January, coincidentally clashing with Angouleme, the world's biggest comics festival, due to the limited availlability of the large Novegro exhibiton centre. Although this was the forth such con, the organisers are calling it the second. The first was a complete flop and the second was disrupted by a farmers' strike that prevented attendees reaching the con. The farmers completely blocked the streets with tractors and cows, which covered everything in a layer of manure!

One of four annual Milan festivals, this is a small convention in Italian eyes - only 4,000 attendees (Rome gets 50,000). The organisers were hoping for a bigger turnout but the bitterly cold weather, the coldest this winter, probably accounted for many staying at home. The international guests, Geof Darrow and myself, had an exhibion in the prestigious NUAGES GALLERY in the centre of Milan and also took part in the larger exhibition at Novegro that included work by Italian artists and others including Glenn Fabry and Frank Miller.

As is the case everywhere these days, retailers and publishers were bemoaning the poor state of the industry and declining sales. Still, from our perspective, the Italian comic market is in a pretty healthy state. The western title TEX, first published in 1938, still sells a million copies a month and BONELLI'S other books, such as DYLAN DOG (a sort of Italian HELLBLAZER, set in London), MARTIN MYSTERE and NATHAN NEVER (SF Titles) still do around 300,000. In fact, Bonelli have recently launched two new SF adventure books, JULIA and BRANDON. TOPPOLINO, the Italian Mickey Mouse weekly sells a staggering three million copies. There's Italian editions of DC and Marvel (SANDMAN is very popluar here, as is PREACHER) And smaller publishers, such as PHOENIX, who publish a mixture of italian originated material and American reprints, such as Rick Veitch's RAREBIT FIENDS, THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT, TEKNOPHAGE and SUPREME, are slowly but surely growing every year.

There's also a thriving Small Press producing high quality artwork in well produced, glossy editions that, over here, would be thought of as mainstream. The booths at the con were mainly comic retailers, joined on the sunday by a host of memorabilia sellers, with few publishers present apart from PHOENIX and GLAMOUR INTERNATIONAL. Glamour Publisher Anthony Vianova (or "Tony Newstreet" as he introduces himself to english-speakers) makes a point of having a booth at as many Italian cons as he can and has been doing so for most of the last thirty years. He recounted the glory days, such as the year at the Lucca Festival when he sold 10,000 copies of the latest issue in three days. His amazement at the fact that italian teenagers prefer to read American reprints rather than the wealth of italian multi-genre material was echoed by Geof Darrow; "At cons in France, there's nothing sadder to me than to see Ffrench kids reading american superhero comics."

Earlier that night was the presentaion of the Novegro Fumetto awards. The winners were;

Grand Prize;Vittorio Giardino for JONAS FINK

Best Writer; Will Eisner for INVISIBLE PEOPLE

Best Artist; Gimenez for LA CASTA DEI METABARONI

Best Book Production; CAGES by Dave Mckean

That saturday night in the hotel bar, I was the last to leave. I thought: "Steve Dillon would be proud of me". A laid-back festival in Italian terms, a huge one in British ones, this was a most enjoyable event in the presence of great people and great comicbooks.

Bryan Talbot

 Also check out the report on the Brazil and Kemi festival, or return to the articles page.

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