I'm still recovering of a good ol' cold that hit me a frew weeks ago, in the middle of a speech about comics I was giving at an event at my country, and then I realize I haven't posted anything in my blog here, so here we go.
I've been a comic book fan since my childhood, since my father got me to the barber shop and while I waited for my turn to get my hair cut, I searched in the pile of newspapers and magazines for a monthly copy of KALIMAN, a latin american comic book way old, but that keep me from getting bored and from bothering my father.
Then, there were the Batman movies, that I enjoyed so much (not knowing they where based on comic books), and an X-men Annual that my cousin gave to me as a random present ( telling me back then "It would be cool to see a movie about this stuff"), and that was it, I was totally in the world of comic books.
From there, tv series ( animated and live-action, thanks to cable tv at that period) videogames (some good, others awful), and the buy of the month (mostly marvel, 'cause DC wasn't so regular at the time around here) kept me up to date in my new world composed on graphic panels and word balloons for a good period of time.
Comics also developed my enthusiam for the art of drawing, so in high school when I was able to choose between one of three subjects: music, industrial arts, artistics, I chose the latter, and i was assissted by one of the greatest persons I've ever known, Profesor Raymundo Lobo (R.I.P.) who took the time to teach me everything he could in the forty-five minutes-a-week we had. During that time, I also developed interest in cinema, anime and manga and gaming as alternate hobbies.
By the time I graduated from high school, I aimed my sight at Graphic Design at my local college, and while I stopped buying comics cause of the expensive of the career, there I met a group called Sector A (Sector Anime), anime-manga related group. I answered I trivia about AKIRA (one of my favorite animations) and I won a KOF (King of Fighters) Wallscroll (that I keep in my room to this day), after the event, the leader of the group, a girl called Edisa, asked me if I wanted to join them, to what I replied that I was more of a comic book fan, not anime, to which she replied it was great, because she didn't knew a comic fan, and it would be nice to ad comics to the hobbies equation in the group, so after a time of chatting, I was officially a member of Sector A.
After a time in college, and Sector A, I had the opportunity to participate as an assistant at the child's booths in an event called International Book Fair, in my country. we were paid during the four days of the event, money that normally would be spended in food and transport, until I gave a try to the fair and in my break went on a trip to all of the booths, finding a store with and incredible pile of back-issues, at ONE-DOLLAR. From DC to MARVEL, Image, to Top Cow and Wildstorm, it was like heaven for me, and for four days, I didn't eat, and practically walked to my home, so I would buy as much as I could to read during the time the booth I kept at the fair was empty, and there reading the likes of Batman: War Games, my love for comics was re-started.
But there also, a dream began to sow itself my head, as I watched an entire convention center dedicated to book of all genres and types, I began to think of the same kind of event for comics, remembering the tales my cousin used to share with me about conventions all over the world.
I told to Edisa, to what she adressed me with an idea she had, an event called APERTURA, in which not only her beloved anime, but other hobbies such as comics will find a space to be showcased to their audience. "Count me in" i said.
And APERTURA 2006 began, as an opening to the season of events related to the hobbies that were showcased in the showroom, which was the Basketball Gym of my former High School. With a few sponsors who believed in the idea, but a big audience that supported it, the event was a success, and launched the site jspotpanama.com, in which i assist to this day as a reporter.
I had the opportunity to arrange a booth to display and sell a few comics, and comic related merchandise, and was a hit, soon, comic stores that were beginning to open contacted us for further events (almost all of them have disappeared by now), so did other sponsors, and in time between smaller events such as Hobbies Weekend, and events of other groups, We launched in 2008 APERTURA, in the same venue where the International Book Fair was made, where my comic fanboyism was restored years ago. Sometime in between I even created a forum (now dead and offline) about comics, which didn't go well, as it was the case with some of our comic book store sponsors, that weren't having a good time with their sales.
After that, I took a sabbatic year from hobbies and helped in APERTURA 2009 by jspotpanama.com as a photographer, because of the decline of comic book stores in my country in less than a year I didn't felt in the mood of doing something more, I even made a cosplay of an anime character (thing I hope not do again in a long time, sorry if I offend sensibilities, not the intention). After all was said and done in that event, Edisa, again, with now Martin a.k.a. Blizzard, a gamer and a friend, after we reviewed the pictures and footage we took and noticed some cosplayers (a very few) as comic book characters, if comics had to return to the event with a both and a panel, I told them that stores where closed, ex- owners in other very different business and there was no one that can put a booth or talk about the subject matter; to what they replied that they knew one person who could pull that off, and so they gave me one year to pull it off.
After a few months i began working ( for my surprise to this day) as an intern at one of, if not the biggest, advertising company in my country, and months later I was officially working as a graphic designer there, which gave me the opportunity to ad more books to my monthly pull list, and to learn from many of the greatest designers in the business at my motherland.
There, remembering the promise I made to my friends a year ago, I began a blog about comics, movies, and pop culture, aimed at all ages, and to also promote the positive aspects of the media, it started slowly, but it began to gain a little following. I presented the idea to my friends at jspotpanama and they were thrilled, so Emerald City Panama was born.
They gave me the opportunity to participate in the promotion of APERTURA 2010, radio shows, TV spots, and stuff, teasing about the event, in which of the many interesting attractions, a speech about comic book, by no one else than the random guy myself is, was going to be in the mix.
A friend of college and comic book lover, Jim, discovered the blog wandering on facebook, and immediately called to ask if he can join the City, he was in before he finished his sentence.
Some time before APERTURA 2010 in july 31, we had a meeting with a friend and former owner of a comic book shop, Felipe, he now owned a different kind of business, but was happy to give us some back issues he had for sale back in the time, to sell it for one dollar at the event plus some comics he orderer regularly for some old clients he still had. We arrived the day of the event with that and some figures, place in a booth in the relatively most peaceful area of the event. We had or hands full all day.
Almost everything on our table was gone, sold to comic enthusiasts that greeted us and told us that at last, comic books were taken seriously in this kind of events, but that was just a part of the day, the hardest part was coming, the speech.
I arrived at a special room in the convention center with a few boys and girls in the seats, and some asked is this was going to be an anime speech, which I replied "no, this is a comic book speech", to what their answer was stepping up the chairs and leaving, I still prepared de computer and the projector with the few listeners that stayed.
By the time I was about to begin, the door was knocked, and a tide of people entered the room, apologizing for being late, and the little room was filled to the point people were sitting on the floor, hearing and enjoying and hour of speech and material i prepared over a year about one of the things I love the most, comic books. It was one great hour and fifteen minutes that I'll never forget.
Today, after APERTURA 2010, and another events in which I've been invited as speaker, and the first event the blog of Emerald City has organized, I take a break this month, the month I'll celebrate it's 27th day the 24th anniversary of my arrival to this universe, preparing for the beginning of a comic segment inside a video-gaming show in a local TV network, I thank God, my parents, my friends and all the people that have been an inspiration or support in this road that I have been able to walk, to arrive maybe in a diferent kind of setting I would have imagined the life of a random guy like me wold have taken, but with the same enthusiasm I had when I was a kid that sat at a barber shop, waiting my turn to cut my hair, reading a comic book.