Andrés Accorsi: Another thing we started doing again that was very frequent in the 90’s were the international conventions with guest artists from different countries.
Claire Denton-Spalding: What was your role in organizing Fantabaires?
Andrés Accorsi: I worked at the first four Fantabaires from 1996 to 1999. In 1999, we had the first Fantabaires that was open for ten consecutive days. It was huge. It had eleven international guests and dozens of local artists.
CDS: How many people attended?
AA: The fourth, near 50,000 people. The first one was attended by 11,000 people. We never dreamed of gathering so many fans at the first convention in Argentina. The place we had rented (booths, halls, etc.) was not prepared to handle that many fans, so it was hot, overcrowded, dangerous at some points because of the excess of people in that very small space. It grew every year.
CDS: There’s a big contrast between the 50,000 people that attended Fantabaires and the few that come to conferences nowadays. What is the reason for that contrast?
AA: Back then, the trend was to create a very attractive mix between the cultural, commercial, and entertainment aspect. Now you have gatherings of fans that attend events exclusively for the commercial aspect, others for the entertainment, and some for the cultural aspect. Each of these events has a small fraction of the real audience. Lots of the time, fans don’t need conventions to find other fans. They find each other on the Internet in forums, in mailings, on Facebook. They participate in virtual communities where they interact every day at every time, they don’t need to travel to a special place. Not even the creators need to attend these events. They can interact with fans electronically. The allure of these huge gatherings is not the same as it used to be. There isn’t an event that brings everybody together. It’s divided into small groups, like the manga and anime group or the cultural elite that listens to lecturers or prestigious creators. We don’t have anything like the Feria del Libro for comics. Fantabaires was very wide, very open. Entertainment, culture, and commerce were all combined. It was also the first time we had held such an event and had major creators from all over the world interact with Argentininan fans. Now the only thing that is comparable to Fantabaires is Crack Bang Boom in Rosario.
This interview was transcribed and edited by Claire Denton-Spalding.