The Barcelona comic, known in its beginnings as the Comic and Illustration Hall, reaches its 40th edition after having spent two critical years in which it has not been held due to the pandemic, apart from the 2021 virtual edition. It is in itself a success that Cómic Barcelona can be celebrated again with the presence that predicts a return to normality, in one of the most outstanding cultural events on the Barcelona scene. And even more so that it reaches its fourth decade of life without faltering, regardless of the evolution of a form of plastic expression that, while gaining recognition, saw how the format that made it reach a massive audience, the magazine, has practically disappeared. This edition, which will include prominent authors such as Jacques Tardi and Peter Baggewith the usual round tables, talks, conferences and concerts, and with an exhibition in homage to Miguel Gallardorecently deceased and one of the souls of the event for many years, is glimpsed with optimism, with about 180 exhibitors and bookstores and with the desire to return, in every way, to being a showcase for a cultural event that continues to demand the artistic consideration it deserves.
Gallardo himself stated a few years ago that “comics are a cultural treasure towards which no institution has made any gesture”. This is partly so: while on the one hand top-level museums no longer have any doubts about incorporating the most outstanding cartoonists into their original collections, on the other hand, an initiative that would have been as exciting as the frustrated Badalona Comic Museum. A deficit mitigated only in part by private initiatives and the action of collectors.
Catalonia has been the spearhead of graphic histories throughout the 20th century and also in the 21st, from the most distant examples in time to the irruption of the mythical publishing house Bruguera or the rise of the ‘underground’ and the culmination in events like the same room or the manga, European references of the sector. And it is from this point of view, creative and business, that the comic deserves recognition that is at the same time ratification of its artistic importance and impulse to guarantee its future.
In this sense, the genre faces several challenges for the future. That of the arduous economic viability in a digital environment, that of continuing to embrace the growing role of its authors and also that of emulating successful experiences, such as coexistence with other formats – with the symbiosis of cinema and comics in the world of superheroes. – or the necessary rejuvenation of its audience – with the undeniable vitality of its eastern branch, with the younger generations adhering to the manga universe as an example.