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Comics festival is back again after three years

04 November 2012 / 18:11:16  GRReporter
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First held in the neighbourhood of Gazi in 1996, when the space of the old gasworks was still being reconstructed, the Babel Comics Festival has turned into a significant event. Nikki Dzuda, one of the founders of the group, recalls for Athinorama magazine that the festival is ahead of its time in some aspects. The festival has presented for the first time artists who have later become famous. The organizers had never imagined that the festival would become so markedly discussed in Europe as a model, although it is essentially creative in nature. In a country where comics are not part of the culture, the festival's exhibitions open the world of comics to a wider audience, giving it the opportunity to meet the giants of the ninth art, such as Mœbius, Kinnot, Loustal, Matoti.

Picture: Giuseppe Paloumbo

Until the crisis came ... In 2009 the theme of the festival was "The Number 13", and people then asked whether it wouldn't be bad luck. And it proved to be so. Over the next three years there was no festival. Until this year.

"We people who work for the festival felt the need to confront the situation in the only way we know - through art. This year's theme "Resistance of Materials" is a term from construction and it is naturally connected to the era we live in. How do we react as "materials" of this era? The Great Exhibition of Greek comic artists, which always opens the festival, will include several exceptional works," said Nikki Dzuda. And this year it will last for 10 days, not only for 4. Among the authors, you will see artists of the last two decades such as George Botsos, Petros Zervos, Christos Dimitriou, George Maraziotis, Kon, Thanasis Petrou and others. Special attention is given to Lazaros Zikos who passed away last year leaving a rich legacy in art - illustrations, comics, fanzine.

International presence is also strong with two anniversaries. Thirty years from the creation of "V for Vendetta" is a good reason for a dedication to its author David Lloyd. He will be in Athens and will give to the exhibition 44 original sketches of the adventures of the mysterious masked avenger as well as other works of his. The half-centenary of the oldest of European comics' antiheroes - Diabolik - is also celebrated. Daniele Brolli comes from Italy. He is an artist, writer and author of comics famous for the scandal of 1996, when in his book, Segrete Identità, he stated that he himself had written the "unreleased" novels of famous writers, which he had been publishing for years. He will present new sketches, drawn with ... food leftovers, on the topic "Apocalypse" and "Hell". Ivan Alagbe's exhibition is for the fans of more sophisticated comics. He is a representative of the alternative art in France and a founder of Amok publishing house.

Picture: David Lloyd

You will see all this not in the familiar halls of Technopolis, but in the historic building in Teatrou Square. "This is a fascinating place," says Nicky, "It was built in 1932, and is somewhat fragmented. In a way this is what prompted us to extend the festival and to further develop the parallel programme as well. Our goal was to show youth art with a central thread - comics which are close to street art, film, graphic design, fine art. The place, which was once home to the first school of design in Greece, will hold an exhibition of posters entitled "Thessaloniki Graphic Design, 1980-2009". It will be located on the second floor, and participating artists such as Andreas Kassapis, Spiros Derveniotis, Alexia Othonaiou, Victor Cohen, Despina Meimaroglou, Taxis, Vasilis Lolos, G.P.O.) will display their work on the third floor.

The festival will cover more than 2,700 square metres. The amphitheatre will host a dedication to contemporary Greek cinema, organized by Angelos Frandzis, as well as shows, theme days, discussions (e.g. about the graphic design scene in Thessaloniki and about "immodest" works of art and censorship). Most side events and the cafeteria for meetings are awaiting artists and visitors in the big hall on the ground floor. According to Nikki Dzuda, the organizers would like to see how the visitors will react to what they see at the festival and how their daily lives will continue afterwards.

Tags: Festival comics graphic design Athens
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