Sunday, December 17, 2006

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS 4: Jeff Smith and his Bone in deutsch

Holy crap. These posts are getting tougher to write as the time since my trip gets longer and the details are harder to remember. But I want to get some of these details (and pics) down on the blog. AND-- I want to get to the grand finale: GERMAN COSPLAY CONVENTION pics & videos!

This quick, pic-heavy installment is about a happy coincidence while I was working my company's booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. FBF is the world's largest book fair, and the 10 huge halls there covered all genres, languages and types of printed media. As I've said, I spent all my down time navigating the Graphic Novels section, where European, Japanese, Korean and American comic publishers vied for geek attention, cosplayers roamed and comic creators signed their books. A great surprise was an interview and signing session with Jeff Smith, creator of Bone, who was there to celebrate the German publication of Bone (in both a manga-style B&W and a color version by TokyoPop DE).

German dude, Jeff Smith, German lady

This stop at Frankfurt was part of Jeff's month-long European sojourn, in support of his (near)-simultaneous release of Bone in Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Greece, France, and other western/nordic European countries/languages. It's hard to fathom so many people all reading the same title in all those different languages, but Bone definitely has that level of universal appeal. In high school, it was one of the comics that kept me excited about the form, and is my favorite american comic story ever. Jeff actually wrote up his take on the same Frankfurt Book Fair on his blog.

A side note-- I met Jeff in 2004 at WonderCon in SF, and got the chance to tell him how much I appreciated all his work on Bone, and showed him my ratty, broken-spine copy of Out From Boneville. He was super gracious, signed (and put a small drawing in) my book, and even ended a phone call with his wife to chat with me for a few minutes. I don't know too much about him, but I was impressed with his respect for his fans. And his upcoming Shazam miniseries is one of the scant few American superhero comics I plan on buying soon (okay, excepting Volume 4 of Seven Soldiers!!).

Okay, on to the pictures! In the main pavillion of the Graphic Novels section, there was a large Bone display, with numerous paintings, sketches, and behind-the-scenes details on the process of coloring the B&W original pages for the color edition (published by Scholastic in the U.S.) :

Page layout sketches from book 7: Ghost Circles (I think?)

The US Scholastic edition covers, in futuristic frames.

Jeff did a one hour interview with a German host that was well-attended-- lots of nerds and geeks of various ages asked questions in both English and German, and Jeff did his best to talk about the history and future of the Bone stories, along with upcoming projects and issues related to translating the comic.

On-stage interview with lots of translating between English & German.

Rapt audience of book and Bone lovers

As I linked above, Jeff did a detailed post on his take on FBF and this event, and a CERTAIN comic geek (dressed in my on-duty, work attire, no less!) was caught in an audience shot:

Am I picking my nose? We look like undercover cops or something!!

I shot a video and posted it on our new Same Hat channel on YouTube; Here are Jeff Smith's comments on the (not likely) possibility of a Bone sequel:

Finally, as a personal souvenir, I bought a copy of the TokyoPop "manga-size" edition of their Bone 1 (which combines Out From Boneville & The Great Cow Race into one edition).

Hmmm. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "STUPID STUPID RAT CREATURES!"

Valley of the uncanny, a page from Out From Boneville in German!

Next post in the series: Trans-Europe Express 5: German gem, Insekt by Sascha Hommer!


Althalus said...

Nice write-up. Just one nit-pick: in most european countries, it's of course been a re-release for Bone (as it was in the US, for the colour version). In many countries the B&W edition was published and completed years ago (except maybe in Spain, where I believe the B&W edition was so slow it didn't finish before the re-release started).

BTW, I'm the bearded guy in red in the "rapt audience" picture ;)

Ryan said...

Oh, awesome!! What a small world :) Thanks for the correction-- yeah, that seemed strange to think that w. europe was just getting Bone this year :) I wonder if the US will re-release the B&W edition eventually in manga-digest format too... :)

How was FBF for you? It was tiring, but i enjoyed the opportunity to be around so many books :) The only thing i'd say is that they give out WAY more free books and samples at BookExpoAmerica-- the big fair in the US. But that makes sense since the focus is on getting bookstores to order titles, not on selling foreign rights :)


Althalus said...

Yeah... free books are kind of rare there. But catalogues are available readily enough, so for me Frankfurt is mostly an opportunity to pick up promotional material I wouldn't get elsewhere. Also to talk to some of the people from foreign comics publishers (who are often perplexed that a simple reader with no professional connections would want to look them up). You have booths from comics publishers from the US, France, Spain, Japan (all those that also have original rights to sell) and you can flip through the books on display there.

Unfortunately, the focus on selling one's own rights limits the kind promotional material (and staff) that is brought to Frankfurt. When I'm looking for manga catalogues or SF/Fantasy book catalogues, I never find much because those are either not the publishers' own rights or properties that don't sell too well on the european market. Scholastic didn't bring any Graphix material, Penguin routinely doesn't show any ACE or ROC catalogues, Random House with Del Rey is just as bad, the French comics publishers don't bring that much stuff anymore because of the decline in franco-belgian sales here and the Dark Horse guys didn't have much clue what was going on with their manga division. Still, the last few times I was there, I always lugged one backpack full of catalogues and stuff home from there and had some interesting conversations.

And then, of course, there's the Comic-Zentrum, where the local publishers have their booths and where the exhibitions and the panels and the comic library are. And the signings, of course. I picked up a nice sketch by Andi Watson and another one from Austrian artist Nina Ruzicka. I had already visited a signing of Jeff Smith in Bonn, on Friday, which turned out to be a wise decision, because his hand injury made them shorten the queue in Frankfurt even further.

My only regret is that, so far, I've only had the time and means to go for one day each year. And you can't see everything of FBF in one day, even if you limit yourself only to comic-related events.