Guest Post by the Webmaster and writer’s wife, Amanda Potter. Read her expat life blog at Maastricht Minutiae.
This weekend Dan & I trekked North to take in our first Dutch comics convention at the Breda Stripbeurs (in Breda of course). Taking place on March 6th and 7th, this convention was a good, medium-sized introduction to Dutch conventions and the European comic scene.
Breda Stripbeurs struck me as a medium-size convention, with a gym-turned-convention floor and a handful of events on a single stage. Genres, big publishers, indie creators, and merch sellers were mingled throughout the floor with a couple of signing booths. American comic-lovers may recognize Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Adi Granov (Iron Man) who were both in attendance as guests. The space was airy and clearly has plenty of room for expansion. Our Dutch friend that we met there hadn’t attended before either; so we don’t know if it is larger or smaller than the previous year.
As with so many events I attend in the Netherlands, I found the Stripbeurs to be a casual affair; focused primarily on buying and selling things rather than presentations or workshops (a pity in my opinion). Vendors we spoke to were friendly and, when they learned of our own comic ambitions in Walking the Lethe, very encouraging. Although there were no other expat publishers there (that we knew of) the environment was welcoming to international visitors and creators. Of course the convention also had several kids and children activities available. Comics in the Netherlands are truly for all ages and the Breda Stripbeurs commanded a wide age range.
An astounding fact we learned from one vendor is that, unlike big U.S. comics, most quality European comics are still hand painted. Even more amazing, they can be done in anything from acrylics to giant oil paintings and frequently take up to one year to complete a 44-page book. Even comics that publish more often rarely are released less than 3 months a part. What a different in attention to detail and focus on the art vs. storytelling speed and pacing. Could it be that European audiences are more patient with their favorite heroes than U.S. ones?
There was not a big gamer presence at the Breda Stripbeurs, but there were a few booths. Games Workshop and Warhammer, a war simulation game where you play with painted figurines, has a strong presence in the Netherlands and they were teaching people to play with short skirmishes. I don’t play, but the scenery was impressive.
The 501st Legion (a famous Star Wars Stormtooper cosplaying group) apparently attended on Sunday but we missed it.
Dan and I took some time to seek out independent comics creators. We had a nice chat with the folks of Drop Comics, as well as Windmill Comics. Both are publishing comics in print, and in the case of the issues we picked up, in English. Some editing from a native speaker is in order; its difficult to write in a foreign language, but I did find Drop Comic’s prequel to their new ACE intriguing.
A small section also hosted some manga-style artists and mini-comic creators (easily distinguished by their hand-bound books). We didn’t get the chance to talk to anyone in this section. A pity because they weren’t particularly busy; just never looked up. We were a little surprised to see no webcomic creators, but there does seem to be fewer webcomickers based out of Europe.
Dutch Convention Season
If the number of fliers thrust upon us is any indication, the Dutch comics convention season is just getting underway. We’re currently gearing up for our first vendor event at the UK Mini and Webcomix Thing in London, but these are a few other events in the Ntherlands that I know are coming up.
- Oost Nederlandse Stripboekenbeurs: March 20
- Stripbeurs Arnhem: April 17-18
- Stripdag in Gouda: May 2
- Strip Spektakel: June 26-27
Want to meet us at a comics event? We have a table for the UK Mini and Webcomix Thing but haven’t make plans for anything else yet. Please send suggestions to the Contact form or leave a comment.