Okay, two months between blogs seems to be par for the course. Sooo… Let’s start with Brazil!
Brazil was my birthday present: I arrived in Sao Paulo on my birthday, August 17th. The conference was amazing! Alas, being a bad American and not knowing Portuguese (By the time I returned home, I had learned about 4 Portuguese phrases: hola, bom dia, boa noite, and ciao!), I couldn’t take in all the presentations, but I did have some kind people who volunteered to translate some of them. I love conferences and much prefer them to conventions; you don’t have to sit behind a table and sell books and look at people in superhero costumes. Instead you can listen to and exchange information with intelligent people. So, not only great presentations (some of which I even understood!), but it was arranged for me to actually get together with a group of women comics creators, and a more talented, beautiful bunch of women you have never seen (unless you were there!). These women loaded me down with their wondrously drawn comics, zines, and graphic novels till my suitcase weighed a ton, but it was worth dislocating my shoulder. Look at all those women!
I was incredibly honored to actually get a standing ovation when I presented my keynote speech: never have I felt so honored and accepted. And among the many women (and nice guys, too!) who I was thrilled to meet was Laerte. Laerte was a famous male cartoonist who transitioned, and when she became a woman she kept her name, so she’s still Laerte, and she is completely accepted. Bravo, Brazil, and here I am with Laerte!
After the conference, I went on to spend a few days in Rio deJaneiro, because if one gets to Brazil, one doesn’t leave without going to Rio. I went with professor Natania Noguera, one of the people responsible for getting me to Brazil, and her college student friend, Luisa, and they fussed over me like mother hens. Their fabulous Carioca friend Amando – my first Carioca! — drove us around, and we did the whole tourist bit: Sugarloaf Mountain, the amazing art deco statue of Christ the Redeemer, standing on one of the highest hills, blessing Rio, and Copacabana beach, that best of all beaches. A Carioca is a native of Rio, and Amando says there are no better people in the world.
I don’t use my change card much, usually only when I travel, so it wasn’t until I flew to Washington DC for the National Book Festival on September 5th that I discovered my charge card was being rejected. I phoned my credit card company when I returned and guess what: my identity had been stolen in Rio deJaniero, and someone had charges $23,000 on my credit card! I think it had been stolen when I checked out of my hotel, because all the charges date from when I had already returned home. Folks, the name of my hotel is the Windsor Copa, and I would steer clear of it if I were you. It was a fine hotel, but one of their employees is a crook! Yes, the identity theft was so obvious that there’s no question of it being me who made those changes, so the credit card company is fixing things, starting with a new credit card for me and a cancellation of the old one.
On to Washington, and the National Book Festival: wow, all us guests were invited to the poshest reception I’ve even seen, at the Library of Congress. They have a Guttenberg bible! And the next evening, I joined Diane Noomin and Miss Lasko-Gross (Yay, I met Miss Lasko-Gross! She is a terrific artist and a thoroughly nice person!) on a panel about women graphic novelists.
After that, Hawaii! Yes, the Hawaii comic con, on the Big Island, a hotel suite that was bigger than most New York apartments, and outside our door, the Pacific and another one of those best beaches in the world. And oh yeah, comics. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but – where were the women cartoonists? The comics part of what was really a science fiction and pop culture con consisted of about five guys and their comics. After meeting with all those beautiful, talented ladies in Brazil, where were the women? Come on, ladies, you can do it!
And finally, Russia!
Comicon Russia is a huge convention, and featured some of the best cosplayers I have ever seen. Some of these people must have worked for years on their costumes! Here I am with a couple of them, Maria and Vlada, who must be the tallest Vampirella ever. Is Vlada a perfect name for a vampire, or what?
I couldn’t keep away from Red Square, and visited it twice in the daytime and once at night, when it’s all lit up. St. Basil’s is the most amazing cathedral I have ever seen, and I have visited many a cathedral in France, Italy, and England. It’s ancient and is composed of a rabbit warren of tiny rooms, with not one space that is not covered with icons and decoration. I don’t know much about the Russian style of onion-dome architecture, but it is specifically Russian and it is beautiful. Did I mention the fabled Moscow subways? The stations are all they’re cracked up to be; majestic, clean, and full of great Soviet-era (which is kind of like WPA-era in America) statues of brave partisans (including women) and idealized Soviet men, Women, children, and even their dogs. At the subway stop for Red Square, there’s a lovely statue of a brave soldier and his faithful dog, and people rub the dog’s muzzle for good luck as they pass it, so his muzzle is shiny.
The other American guest was Jim Salicrup, editor-in-chief at Papercutz, publishers of some very nice all-ages graphic novels, and all around nice guy. We met John F. Tefft, the American ambassador! Here we are with him. I learned from Mr. Tefft that ambassadors have no political affiliation, and it makes sense. They are chosen because they can get along with everybody, which is what they have to do.
Here’s a link to a short video of the comic con, produced by the American embassy:
Jim and I were provided with 2 great translators who took total care of us and went everywhere with us, and here we all are. Left to right, that’s Kirill (also known simply as “K”), me, Nicholas (Also known as Nick) and Jim.
1) Where were the women cartoonists? Just like in Hawaii, I saw a bunch of comics by guys, and nothing by women. Come on, ladies!!! Think of those amazing Brazilian women and their beautiful comics, you can do it, too!
2) I caught the Cold of the Century on the plane returning to San Francisco, and I’m still coughing!
3) My plane home took off from Moscow at 5:45 AM, so all the currency exchanges were not open yet, and now that I’m back in the USA, I can’t find a place that will change my rubles! Does anyone have any ideas?
FINALLY: the weekend of October 17 and 18, I can be found at Project:comic-con in St. Louis. Here’s the link: http://www.projectcomiccon.com/
This year the emphasis is on women comics creators, so pay attention, Hawaii and Russia!