Comic conventions are invariably hot and sticky affairs, and there’s always a pervasive sickly-sweet smell of junk food juxtaposed with sweat hanging in the air, even on a cold December afternoon.
That’s the price you pay for the opportunity to rub shoulders with all your favourite superheroes again and again (there were about a hundred Batmans), and to engage with comic book artists from around the world.
The venue was the MFCC in Ta’ Qali, and the set-up primarily consisted of a series of stalls behind which comic book artists exhibited their work. Artists were very accessible and easy to talk to, so that’s what I did. Below are three artists who took my fancy:
This witty, impish and impertinent artist took an approach to the comic book genre which set her apart from the others who were mostly focused on fantasy and superheroes. I loved her Colouring Book for Adults, which came with the disclaimer ‘Not recommended for minors, sensitive or depressed people’. The book is full of that blunt Eastern European wit that cuts to the bone and then keeps going. It is a parody of the colouring book genre, with each page presenting an ironic comment on the darker side of the human condition.
Her other denser work is called Brain Fetish which I’d describe as an ironic psychological graphic novel. “[It is about] a rather universal psychological mechanism that I explain in the book. There is a personal part in there, and obviously a book is always a reflection of the artist, (if somebody is able to see the layers), but the content is not a personal story per se. About seven/eight years ago, I came across my first graphic novel in my life, and I was surprised that comics could be about other stuff, not just Superman, Batman and all that, and I thought it would be nice to do it someday, and at one point I said hey, someday has come.”
Image above: Kinga Korska behind her stand
Image above: Coloring Book for Adults
David Hitchcock (no relation)
Comics about psychopathic murderers and prostitutes in Victorian London – what’s not to love? Known primarily as a Victorian gothic artist, Hitchcock’s latest work, The Signal Man, is a collaboration with a school teacher who adapted an unpublished story by Charles Dickens into a short comic. Each issue of his Whitechapel series came with an original watercolour on the front – mine was still wet and oozing when I bought it.
The dark tone of his comics resonated with me: monochrome, strong dark and light contrasts, dramatic scenes and expressions, pencil and ink effect and gruesome subject matter – a real Caravaggio of comics.
Image above: David Hitchcock behind his stand
Image above: The Signal Man
Malta’s own Iella was present, displaying her illustrations with a laid back cheerfulness while sipping Cisk. If you’re looking for fantastic beasts, Iella’s stand is a good place to start, as she’s great at drawing weird and wonderful creatures. Her art is of course not limited to creepy-cute animals. One illustration depicting an imagined city was hauntingly beautiful and really stuck with me. She’s based in London and works for the European division of Cartoon Network.
On the comic convention, Iella had this to say: “This year, Malta Comic Con moved to a new bigger venue which allowed them to have more space for more artists and events. I’ve been exhibiting at comic conventions overseas for the past three years now, and I can safely say that Malta Comic Con is one of my favorite shows.” Huzzah!
Image above: Creepy Cute Critter
Image above: City of Dreams
Image above: Iella herself
There were lots of other points of interest, including book sellers, talk rooms and Japanese calligraphy, not to mention the infamous cosplay show. This involves people dressing up as characters and strutting about in front of an audience to the accompaniment of a soundtrack.
Image above: Are you not entertained?!
Image above: Cosplayers
For anyone who has any appreciation for the medium, the Malta Comic Con is a must. I’m looking forward to the next one, and I hope that the ranks of the weird and wonderful humans among us continue to grow exponentially until they take over this country and install a kid in a Spiderman costume as our supreme leader.