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Buenos Aires report

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We booked a trip right in the middle of the San Diego convention and flew 6,000 miles south to Argentina. It was a vacation not entirely without comics - there's Malfada painted on one of the thousands of newsstands that seemingly occupy every block in Buenos Aires...

And here's two of Argentina's finest contemporary cartoonists: Liniers (at left, wearing a Montreal Canadiens t-shirt in our honor) and Pablo Holmberg, who has a big grin on his face because he just received his author copies of Eden the day before.

Eden debuted at San Diego and will be in many stores in a couple of weeks. It's a beautiful little book that reads like a whimsical and endearing folk tale drawn as a series of Sunday strips.

And Liniers is no slouch either: he's a prolific and successful cartoonist (sample of his work above) who draws a daily strip for Buenos Aires' largest newspaper, La Nación, and a number of his books have already been published in several languages. Somehow he also finds the time to run (with his wife, Angie) a graphic novel publishing house.

It seems that everyone in this country is an avid reader; aside from the multitude of newsstands noted above, I don't think I've seen as many bookstores in any other city I've visited (the high literacy rate might have something to do with the fact that universities here are free). Many of these stores are knock outs visually (like Eterna Cadencia, pictured here) and specialize in literature. As far as I could tell, there are no chain stores anywhere. Even Amazon doesn't operate here (maybe it costs too much money to ship books all the way down here).

Eterna Cadencia seemed like the kind of place that has been an institution for decades, but the manager told me it's only been open for 5 years (just a little longer than D+Q's own bookstore). Note how the trees outside have no leaves; July is the dead of winter (or their version of it) in Argentina.

Oddly, for a country with a rich cartooning tradition, none of the bookstores here seem to know what to do with graphic novels (it's kind of like North America ten years ago). A lot of stores seem to pile all comics in the "Humor" section, with the sole exception of Liniers' books, which are always front and center.

If it's not "humor," it's "Literatura Fantastica," which sounds like the place to go if you need to complete your Boris Vallejo collection. (Liniers - please do something about this! It's all in your hands!)

What's this?! Dios mio, is that a glimmer of Guelph, Ontario culture protruding from this Buenos Aires bookshelf? Yes, it's George Sprott (Spanish edition). Maybe the change is happening now and in a couple of years the bookstores here will have proper "Historietas" sections (that's what they call comics here, which seems a lot more sensible than the "graphic novel" term we've been saddled with).

More Malfada. Do Malfalda enthusiasts make pilgrimages to see this plaque?

And still more Malfada. She's the Moomin of South America.

There are hundreds of these ornate, iron poster showcases all over town. The picture of the sun and two boats is the city logo for Buenos Aires and it was designed several decades ago by the grandfather of Maria Lourdes (Pablo Holmberg's wife).

You can never be far enough from San Diego. On Monday we took a ferry ride to Uruguay and we bought the local paper. And there it was: coverage of the Comic Con.

OK, I have no more photos from our trip dealing about comics or bookstores, so I'll leave you with this one, a memory that will be permanently embedded in my memory for the rest of my life. Here's a typical sidewalk in Buenos Aires - beware anyone planning to come here with a stroller or a wheelchair.

Thank you Peggy for the Air Miles!