Monday, July 6, 2015

European Vacation

You may have noticed the number of blogs have been light the last few weeks as I was on vacation with my family in Europe.  I wrote 4 blogs before leaving and published those while I was overseas.  Naturally, my European vacation was dominated by family activities, but I did have the opportunity to visit a few comic book stores while I was there.  I visited shops in Amsterdam, Brussels, and Frankfurt.  Late last year, I was in Paris on a business trip and both European visits have cemented a truth that I was unaware of before; U.S. editions of comic pamphlets are very popular in Europe.  In my two visits to Europe in the past year, I have visited more stores that sell mostly U.S. editions of pamphlets along with European produced content in the form of trade paperbacks and graphic novels with only a token representation of the foreign editions pamphlets of U.S. material if any at all.  When it comes to foreign translations of U.S. material, it seems Europeans would rather consume the material in the original U.S. pamphlet or translated into their native language in trade paperbacks and graphic novels.

This is not to say that foreign editions cannot be found, because they can, but in my experience, most comic shops seems to deal mostly with the U.S. editions when it comes to Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, etc.  When you are hunting for older foreign material like I do, there are shops that cater to this, but they are not as plentiful as those shops that sell new material much like comic shops in the U.S.  What I have found is used bookstores can be a great asset when seeking out the older material or online auction and sales sites.

Like in the U.S., superheroes seem to rule the day when it comes to the shops that sell U.S. editions.  I have visited several shops on my visit that contained no Star Wars comics at all, except for collections in trade paperbacks, but they had ample copies of Spider-Man, Avengers, X-Men, Batman, and other superheroes comics.  This is not to say I did not have any success locating foreign editions of Star Wars comics on the trip, because I did.  Like my visit to France, I found more comics than I could reasonably bring home and I will post blogs about those comics I did purchase.

I do want to give notice to several shops I visited on this trip.  My first comic shop visit was to Henk in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Henk is a decent sized comic shop, but it is dominated by U.S. editions and had only a few Dutch comic boxes but no Junior Press Star Wars comics.  I talked to the Henk's shop attendant who was very friendly and I explained I was seeking out vintage Star Wars comics from Junior Press.  He sent me over to Lambiek which had more vintage local comics.  Lambiek's first floor contained many European flavored graphic novels, but it was the basement level that I spent a good portion of my time.  The basement was full of U.S. and Dutch comics all unorganized and scattered about in boxes on the floor consisting mostly of superheroes.  I saw Dutch Spider-Man, Avengers, X-Men, Flash, Batman, and numerous other superhero books.  I was also impressed with the number of Dutch Gold Key books (Magnus Robot Fighter, Doctor Solar, Korak Son of Tarzan, etc.) Unfortunately, I was unable to find any Junior Press Star Wars comic books, but I did pick up 2 copies of Het Monster Van Frankenstein #1 (Dutch edition of Marvel's The Monster of Frankenstein); Apen-Planeet #3, 4, and 6 (Dutch edition of the Marvel Planet of the Apes magazine); and Star Trek #7 (Dutch edition of Gold Key material.)

Amsterdam did not yield any Dutch Star Wars comics, but I was hopeful about Brussels.  Brussels is known as the "capital of comics" and home to the Belgian Comic Strip Museum.  What was fascinating about Brussels compared to other European cities I have visited, is it was not dominated by U.S. superhero comic books, but by European flavored graphic novels.  Tintin, Spirou, Asterix, Smurfs, Thorgal, and many other European comics were found in many book stores throughout the tourist portion of the city.  I found three of the new Marvel French Panini Comics Star Wars #1 issues, several of the French Atlas (Delcourt Comics) issues, and the French Titans series which contains French translations of the original Marvel Star Wars title in a comic shop called Utopia.  I did find a small comic shop that also had one Junior Press Star Wars issue #22.  Finally, I also went to Canal BD where I picked up their exclusive French Panini Star Wars #1.

Germany did not have a lot in the way of comic shops to visit.  We visited Baden-Baden, Heidelberg, and a little town called Oberwessel which had no comic shops in walk-able distance.  I did visit two comic shops in Frankfurt, but they were a bust.  I did pick up a copy of the German Panini Comics Star Wars #124 which contains the first half of Darth Maul: Son's of Dathomir at the large bookstore chain Schmitt & Hahn at the Frankfurt train station.

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