From Emir Pasanovic, Bleeding Cool's Croatian correspondent;
Continuing the tradition of the past couple of years, 7th Makarska Comic Book Festival (named after a small Dalmatian town in which it is held annually and popularly shortened MaFest) will last for seven days, 21st May – 27th May. This has now become a well deserved opportunity for all comic book authors and enthusiasts, from the region and wider, to take a pre-summer vacation in the full sense of that word. Offering some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe, with famous Adriatic weather, for this one week in May the small town becomes a Mecca for all regional comic book fans; a place where they can meet and talk to an ever increasing number of their favorite authors from all over the world. It is easy to conclude that, before MaFest, most of us never knew what a real comic book convention/festival should look like, and we still learn that we haven't seen nothing yet every year we come back for more.
Taking into account the main attractions of the Festival and constructive suggestions from many past guests, visitors and participants; wishing to give all of the comic book fans only the best memories from Makarska, this year's Festival setting will be in the "Bounty" lounge bar on the central beach, in the famous Yellow House. That is where all the events (signings and panels) will be held during the day and if there is bad weather, everything will be moved back to the Congress Hall of the Hotel "Meteor", location where all the past Festivals were held.
So, during the day, all comic book authors and fans can look forward to relaxing in the comic book rhythm of the beach, the Adriatic Sea, coffee, pine trees, cocktails and other beautiful things, and in the evenings we will move to the famous Listun bar "Bety", pubs "Pivac" and "Mirakul". Beach, sea, comics, rock 'n roll… Hedonism to the full extent of that word.
Since nobody likes for the festival events to cross over with each other, in order to prevent any headaches for the comic book fans when they have to choose where to go and what to miss, in the past the Festival organizers were forced to cut a lot of things short. When preparing everything this year, the main goal was to find a place where it will be possible to do many things at the same time: signings, as well as panels, but without closing everyone into tight spaces and for everything to be large enough so that people don't bump into each-other… And they did it! In the "Bounty", on the central beach in Makarska, comic book fans will be able to become a part of one and the other because the panels will be held just a few steps from the signing areas. So, everything will be in the same place all at the same time, but still remain separate enough so that nobody is in each-other's way. Few steps in one direction – signings, few steps the other way – panels. All you need to do is come to the "Bounty" in the morning and – presto!
In the past years all signings were limited almost exclusively to special guests, with the only exception being the Sunday morning when we had numerous home artists sign and draw for the visitors. This year will be completely different because the size of the area allows practically all of the authors that come to Makarska during MaFest to sign and draw simultaneously. Main special guests of the Festival this year are as follows:
Moreno Burattini (Italy) (Zagor);
Stefano Casini – (Italy) (Nathan Never, Sighma, Dampyr)
Sylvain Cordurié – (France) (La Mandragore, Ravermoon, Sherlock Holmes)
Mirko Čolak – (Serbia) (Punisher, Red Skull)
Pasquale Frisenda – (Italy) (Magico Vento, Tex, Dylan Dog)
Igor Kordej – (Croatia) (Vam, Tarzan, Secret History)
Vladimir Krstić Laci – (Serbia) (Sherlock Holmes)
Tomaž Lavrič – (Slovenia) (Crveni Alarm, Diareja, Ekstremni sportovi)
Nicola Mari – (Italy) (Dylan Dog, Nathan Never)
Renato Queirolo – (Italy) (Magico Vento, Nick Raider, La Strega)
Jean Van Hamme – (Belgium) (XIII, Thorgal, Largo Winch)
Marco Verni – (Italy) (Zagor)
But besides them, "Bounty" will be swamped by past guests come for a touch more of Makarska: Lola Airaghi, Giancarlo Alessandrini, Krešimir Biuk, Bruno Brindisi, Sebastijan Čamagajevac, Alem Ćurin, Roberto De Angelis, Matt Hollingsworth, Miki Horvatić, Keiko Ichiguchi, Bane Kerac, Darko Macan, Miroslav Mrva, Boro Pavlović, Darko Perović, Esad Ribić, Sibin Slavković, Bob Solanović, Marko Stojanović, Goran Sudžuka, Dalibor Talajić, Tihomir Tico Tikulin, Andrea Venturi, Milorad Vicanović Maza, Luisa Zancanella…
In this year's MaFest visitors can attend a great number of panels that will discuss different aspects of comic books. For example, one of the world's greatest digital colorists Matt Hollingsworth will hold two panels on the 25th and 26th May; another panel will be about a comic book "Invisible Stories" (by Maja Karačić and Ivan Svaguša), which talks about problems people with disabilities face every day. Another panel will showcase a great connection between MaFest and the rock 'n' roll scene, which exists from day one: Zoran Žmirić "Gand" will promote his book "Rock Hymns of Rijeka" and the Rock Scene in this Croatian city.
Csaba Kopeczky (two panels) and CB Cebulski, world renowned talent hunters, will collect portfolios from all interested authors. Csaba, who specialises in the Franco-Belgian market, will hold his first panel in the evening of Wednesday, 23rd May , and the second on Friday (25th May). CB will do his work catching new talent for Marvel on Saturday (26th May) in the afternoon. I suggest that all those authors wishing to some day become a part of the team of one of the great publishing houses not to miss this year's festival.
Of course, all of the special guests will have their own panels, which means that this year there will be more than 20 of them! In any case, there will be lots of things and you can get more information about all of the panels on www.mafest.com under "Vijesti/News" heading in the days leading to the festival.
Of course, as every year, there will be an auction offering original artwork (graciously donated by the special guest stars and other authors) and the collected money will be donated to a humanitarian cause.
The comic book market will still be in the same place as before, hotel "Meteor", and we should mention that "Meteor" is only 2-3 minutes from the "Bounty". Market will be opened Friday to Sunday, and besides the huge number of old comic books, it will represent almost all of the publishers in the region. While the comic book market is open, comic book fans will be able to see an exhibition of the original artwork of the special guest stars.
This year there will also be another event for kids and all those who feel like one. During the weekend, MaFest will host its first YuGiOh Tournament, and is open to both those who have experience in playing this trading card game, and those who are just beginning. The tournament will be held also in the "Bounty" Lounge on Friday, 25th May at 17:00h, and Saturday, 26th May at 11:00h. It will be hosted by a Croatian script writer Miki Horvatić.
In the end, as far as the music part of the festival is concerned, our visitors will be able to attend rock concerts by local rock bands (Bestidnici, Logo, Natural, Pešes, Regular John, Siledžije, etc.) every day from Wednesday (23rd May) till Saturday (27th May). All of the concerts are free, of course, and will be held in the cult meeting place Mirakul (on Wednesday and Thursday) and Lištun in front of the cafe Bety (Friday and Saturday).