At last it's here: the weekend that comic and graphic novel aficionados have had circled on their calendars since this time last year. The 31st Saló Internacional del Còmic de Barcelona runs from Thursday, 11 April until Sunday the 14th in the Fira de Barcelona, Palacio 8. The site may be 19,000m2, but it will be four days of compressed activities, new releases and exhibitions. Read on to see our can't-miss recommendations for the biggest weekend in town for fans of the comic.
Despite the worsening global recession, the main backdrop of this year's Saló del Còmic will be comics and graphic novels in the style of the western. According to the organisers, the exhibition 'Per un grapat de còmics' ('A fistful of comics') will feature some 230 originals, complete with spectacular staging.
Though the biggest names in the western genre are those working in film, it is undeniable that works like Moebius's 'Blueberry' and H.G. Oesterheld and Hugo Pratt's 'Sergeant Kirk' are small masterpieces that have enriched the popular culture. All of them will be in attendance, alongside such Spanish biggies as 'Sunday' by Victor Mora and Victor de la Fuente, 'Gringo' by Manuel Medina and Carlos Giménez, and 'Hands Kelly' by Antonio Hernández Palacios. Superheroes aren't loners. Historically they've often joined forces, whilst still each marking their own territory, to battling against increasingly powerful evil masterminds. The X-Men have been fighting baddies since 1963, the same year that The Avengers, another Marvel team, appeared on the scene. Both series, brought to us by the great Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, turn 50 this year, and you can bet the celebration during the fair will be a worthy one. And if that weren't enough, some of the X-Men members are out on solo expeditions this year with film adaptations including 'Iron Man 3', 'The Wolverine' and 'Thor: The Dark World'.
Happy together: 'The X-Men and the Avengers' will offer a comprehensive review of the past, present and future of the most powerful in the Marvel world. Not only will there be an extensive gallery featuring leading members of each group, tracking each one's evolution and major milestones in their respective careers, but the exhibition will also show all their major screen appearances (TV, cinema and video games). A perfect excuse to get your geek on. It seems incredible, but it's been 100 years since the birth of Miguel Ambrosio Zaragoza (better known as 'Ambrós'), the cartoonist who in 1956 was commissioned to shape a screenplay by Víctor Mora about a character called Capitán Trueno ('Captain Thunder').
To celebrate this milestone, the Saló pays tribute to this key figure in the world of the comic with an exhibition featuring a large selection of original pages, focusing on popular characters such as El Jinete Fantasma ('Ghost Rider'), Chispita ('Spark'), Capitán Trueno and El Corsario de Hierro ('The Iron Raider'), in addition to other works. The exhibition has the support of Ediciones B, who we have to thank for the original pages. The commercial health of superheroes goes through various phases, and each requires them to go through different experiences over the years. Batman and Superman have each got married, have died and have even started their own worldwide justice franchises. But Superman is in remarkable shape for a 75-year-old, and the Saló celebrates him with a very special exhibition: 'The 75 years of Superman', divided into three distinct parts.
The first shows visitors both the history of Superman as well as the main collections and plot arcs. It will also talk about his friends, family and enemies, as well as his major appearances in film, television and video games.
Another important space in the exhibition will be dedicated to the authors who have drawn Superman over 75 years. A large display of signatures will take over a wide selection of original panels of Superman comics, with covers and pages written and drawn by leading cartoonists, including pages by Spanish artists who have drawn the Man of Steel.
Following the boom of the autobiographical comic, a tantalising and realistic third road has been opened on the motorway of the graphic novel: the one for those authors who never leave home without pen and paper so they can capture everything around them from their particular point of view. For a while now, some of them have been publishing these journals in book form. Their journeys can be for pleasure, business or personal reasons. The exhibition 'Quaderns of viatge' ('Travelogs') will display some of these published pages alongside the originals from their notebooks.
The exhibition, which will feature a stage with a travel theme, will be divided into areas within Spain, the rest of Europe, America, Asia and Africa. You'll be able to feast your eyes on the personal items of such prestigious authors as Miguel Gallardo, Paco Roca, Víctor Martínez, Alfonso Zapico, Liniers, Manu Larcenet, Susanna Martín, Florent Chavouet and Guy Delisle.