February 2, 2023

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Some considerations – white space

It was cartomics Different from what was welcomed by the de small team white space At the entrance to the suites Ru Ver Milan.
Needless to say, the big news is the new look with which the Milan Comic Festival presents itself to the public, namely in partnership with another major event in the world of entertainment, the Milan Game Week.
This merger is not actually unprecedented: already in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event moved from the usual period from March to November – the classic period of Games Week, in fact – to join forces with the Covid-19 exhibition the games For a fully digital copy.
The collaboration was renewed in 2021, with a first (limited in entries) return to the physical dimension, and reconfirmed this year with a great start.
But since we did not participate in last year’s edition, for us the 2022 edition was the first with this system.

One would think Cartoomics had grown up, then: After the jump of about ten years ago, which moved the event from the exhibition spaces of the city to the larger and more prestigious spaces of the Rho Vieira, joining the Games Week would have been a consecration of a business built with a certain commitment for several decades, combining elements of Comics and video games in one moment.
Unfortunately The impression instead was that of a “beleaguered” comic world.which is relegated to a pavilion of only one of the four that hosts the event as a whole and which does not seem to be able to attract publishing realities that, with their presence and related initiatives, could attract a larger audience of readers and enthusiasts to participate.
Certainly, for that matter, just a month’s distance from Lucca Comics doesn’t help the Milan event…
absence Sandwiches cartoon It undoubtedly made itself felt, from this point of view, as did another important publisher such as BAO Publication: the latter had already established a small presence at the exhibition, but only inside the distributor’s booth, which had reserved space only for BAO products, where it could also welcome the three guest authors for autograph copies. In short, a proxy post.

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Cartomics 2022_4Other major publishing houses had rather small boothsThey mainly show the latest releases, and those who hosted the cartoonists had to manage the spaces behind the counter very well.
welding pressAnd Feltrinelli comicsCoconino And a few others shared that fate (just maybe Tonoy Enjoyed a few extra square metres): The limited roof space available, moreover, made it difficult to identify the respective stands, which were often overshadowed by those of individuals selling ethnic items and foods.
The only exceptions were given by Sergio Bonelli publisherwho erected a sort of ‘building’ within which their counters were placed (but were a bit empty, for they would not have represented the actual number of comics and cartoonists present, as well as – alas – the audience passing through) e BD/J Pop releaseswith a very rich spoiler and fully dedicated headroom signature sessions.

Another aversion was implemented, in some cases, by the fragmentation of supply. An example of this is the case Frank Brambillawhose volumes were edited by Bonelli in Suite star shop (!), while the artist himself had his own copy-signing booth in the science fiction area. Strategic choices that indicate at least a certain lack of initial coordination between forces in the field.

However, there was a shortage of private comics sellers: apart from the obvious presence of SuperGulp – Historical comic shop in Milan – There were a few stands where you could look for old books, while the majority of merchants displayed dolls, action figuresCards, t-shirts and various gadgets.

Cartomics 2022_5

The only comic bulwark, which managed to protect the very essence of what cartoons should be for us, was the area of ​​the self. This year it was organized and sponsored by our friend and colleague Rachel Pazzolithe area dedicated to self-production is the center of gravity not only of our Saturday and Sunday wanderings, but also of the comic heart that should pervade cartoons but is overshadowed by all that comics are about.
In the area of ​​the Self, on the contrary, what was important was the comics: the banquets might have been small, and the gallery space to display their own production limited, but the authors and publishers talked about comics, what lay behind their efforts, and the inspiration. Market aspirations and business.
Two long aisles, in the center of the pavilion, form a passage point flanked by independent performers, with their colorful or Gothic productions, inappropriate and free, but in any case fiercely passionate about the medium.

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Also worth noting, again in this area, is space The beneficiary is weak (For more on this reality, refer to the video interview that Vanessa and Mark They let us): a real home reading room moved inside the gallery, consisting of large cushions where you can sit and browse through a comic strip taken from the shelf, over which the logo protrudes “Where comics are not bought, but read“.

Cartomics 2022_1

One of the most interesting changes in this release was the focus on events: Years ago, spaces for conferences and presentations to spread the news were in the middle of the aisles, wedged between stands and passing people, which undermined the quality and usability of the events. This year, e-bay has provided a real stage that is much wider and more comfortableThe area was also cordoned off with seats for spectators, thus separating it from the rest of the audience.
Maybe the comedy show isn’t it Is super plus But it also had some good things: In addition to the conferences of some publishers Three meetings dedicated to self-production and a committee that celebrated its 60th anniversary Spider Manwith two exceptional guests invited directly by the organization: the designers Humberto Ramos And Claudius Ciarone.

Cartomics 2022_6

On the other hand, we have to point out at least two important points: some of the billboards were made at the same time as other promotional activities within the large area of ​​the e-bay house, which led to situations where people came annoyed to go to other passers-by interested in further activities ongoing. Furthermore, the seminars have been organized in such a way as to discourage interventions from the public, thus eliminating an important moment of confrontation between authors and enthusiasts that was not missing in previous editions.

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Cartomics 2022_2And so the caricature appears by itself as almost a secondary, if not secondary, presence to the event as a whole.crush it The main event Milan Games Week represents her and sacrificed her from different points of view.
It was still a good opportunity to breathe “fresh air”, to spend a carefree afternoon, but for sure The most demanding ninth art enthusiasts were unable to find certain elements of interest for the event due to the way it was organized: The lack of important editorial facts and special booths including tracking down old books undermined the experience from this point of view.
Only the subjective area and (in part) the new event structure shine in this context, but in general The event emerged as something colorful and cheerful, in which the comic was, however, almost a peripheral element. We can certainly understand the logic that prompted Cartoomics to merge with the more “performing” Games Week, but we remain perplexed about the utility of staging a comic fair not even a month away from the most important fair in Italy, and thus not being able to offer any comic novelty. To the public, ignoring the publishing houses and not proposing itself as an opportunity for exchange between enthusiasts, it is crushed as space and presence by the largest number of players.

Photographs accompanying the piece and in the gallery below were taken Anna Colella.