The AltCom experience of 2016 is over, as much as something like this is ever over, because when a festival like this is at its best, it lingers in your soul/mind/5D construct.
We actually managed to create this separate plane of existence. A space that is its own thing and when it’s over it’s like you’re going back home, even if you already live in the same city. And when I say “we”, I don’t mean me, I don’t mean the organizers or volonteers, I mean all of us who took part in it. The guests/exhibitors/musicians/visitors. The smokers and drinkers. The ones who woke up, went to the festival and stayed until they passed out or went home (sometimes when the morning sun had come out and the birds started singing, sometimes when the wine was over, sometimes when it was just the right time to go). The ones who arrived late at night, the ones who left early. This international family that’s made up of people you almost only meet in these liminal existences. These special relationships with people you meet a few times a year, in different parts of the world, that you consider to be friends even if you hardly know most of them in any deeper sense.
It started with the preparty sessions where a few of us sat down with some wine after putting up exhibitions, discussing anything from printing techniques to working conditions to drug culture to Pokémon Go to the effect the internet has on communication and on underground and zine culture. Then it all grew as the actual festival started. People meeting, inspiring each other, giving birth to new collaborations, extending invitations to future events, other worlds to visit in the future. An intersection of pasts, present and futures.
Many of us will meet again, because this part of the comics culture is borderless by nature and part of a network of recurring aquaintances, but we may never meet again in this exact same constellation of people.
And then there’s the story of the lost luggage that arrived just in time for the Saturday afterparty so we could complete the exhibition a few hours before it closed, the stolen items, the missed flight, the missing guest, like an offering to the god of Branquignole. Maybe the price to pay for everything else running more or less smoothly. Sleep was another casualty, but what are you gonna do?
So thank you to everyone who came, who let people stay in their homes, who participated, volunteered, carried tables, held talks/performances/workshops, who brought their art or simply their presence. For an AltCom festival that became something beyond the sum of its parts. Not unlike the language/artform of comics itself.