I’ve completed thirteen interviews since beginning in April. Maybe that number doesn’t seem like a lot, but combined, I’ve probably done about 18 hours of talking, listening, and eating pastries. I’ve only posted two interviews on my blog, one with Lucas Varela and another with Andrés Accorsi. So, who have I been interviewing? I’ve interviewed comics creators (Lucas Varela, Diego Agrimbau, Ricardo de Luca, Fran López, Dante Ginevra), specialists (Andrés Accorsi, Oscar Steimberg, Andrés Valenzuela), students (Guillermo, from my workshop with Diego), publishing companies (Moebius, Común, Historieteca), and comics organizations (La Banda Dibujada). It’s a comprehensive list, no doubt, but in terms of my project about the lives of comics creators, five creators doesn’t seem like enough. But as I’ve been talking to artists and writers, I’ve come to realize that I need to understand the entire Argentine comics production system. I can’t understand the lives of creators if I don’t understand the context in which they are working.*
When creators mentioned the need for more publishing opportunities and specialists lamented the lack of advertising new comics, I decided to interview the owners of the publishing companies to better understand their point of view. Although I have not finished transcribing these interviews, Moebius, Común, and Historieteca all told me similar stories. Driven by a love of comics and seeing some sort of niche in the market, these companies began to publish. Común promotes the idea of the graphic novel, publishing books that emphasize the idea of the comic as a form of literature to be placed with literature in the bookstore. Historieteca publishes works by Argentine artists only available abroad. Moebius uses it’s connections to the graphic design community to create high-quality comics with a designer’s touch. While interviewing these publishing companies, the owners told me about their challenges: distribution and mismanaged display of comics in bookstores. So that’s sent me on a new quest to figure out the complexities of distribution and the hierarchy of bookstore space. Of course, the main focus of my project will still be on artists and their lives, but I want to understand their lives in the context of comics in Argentina.
*Okay. That sentence sort of makes me sound like an idiot. Of course I understand both the economic and historical elements that have had an impact on comics in the last 20 years. But I am ignorant about the creation-production-dissemination process. What exactly happens at every step of the process? What are the responsibilities and challenges at each level of production?