2005 MoCCA Con Report

MoCCA – the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art – holds an ART FEST every year and has since 2002.

This year the Fest was held on Saturday and Sunday, June 11th and 12th from 11am to 6pm each day.

Given that I live only about 4 to 5 hours north of New York City, where the Fest is held, I finally decided to actually get off my tuchus and attend the thing.

Of course, I decided around 2pm on Friday. But I was on a train by 7:00pm so that worked out.

Unfortunately, I decided on a weekend of such heat and humidity that people actually melted, right in front of my eyes. I swear. (Well, maybe those were dehydration-induced hallucinations. But still, everything was very… sticky.)

Since I got in late Friday, I just unpacked and crashed. Saturday I made the critical mistake of walking from my hotel at Park Ave and 30th Street down to the Puck Building – just over 30 blocks. I figured, ‘hey! I like to walk!’ I forgot about the part where ‘hey! I’m an idiot! It’s a zillion wet degrees outside.’

I arrived at the Fest around 11:20, absolutely soaked with sweat, bought my membership for both days then went upstairs to attend a panel and cool off. The panel was "Reaching New Readers: Comics, Children’s Literature, and the Graphic Novel." This is actually a topic that interests me because I love comics and I love getting new people hooked on comics. I especially love blowing away their expectations of crap with really good stuff. But I’m always trying to figure out how to do this on a larger scale.

The scheduled moderator couldn’t make it and I didn’t catch the replacement’s name, but she’s on the left. At the table, left to right, Brian Ralph, Leuyen Pham, George O’Connor, and Francoise Mouly.

I bailed out of the panel a little early, despite the fact that it was pretty interesting, because I just didn’t have the attention span for the high-falutin’ rantings of super-smart folks. (Well, just the one person, but that person kinda dominated the conversation.)

Back downstairs, I began winding through the three rooms of incredible talent. Unbelievable talent. And some really funny crap. I bought a lot of comics. Let’s see…

Going roughly in order of smallest to largest, because that’s how to pile up a stable stack, I bought (or was randomly handed a freebie version of):

Note that people periodically assume-out-loud that I get free stuff because I am a Comixpedia Editor Type. NOT SO! With one or two exceptions (stuff that was mailed to me for review or that I picked up on freebie tables at various conventions) I pay for all books and schwag myself. In fact, I not only bought a MoCCA Art Fest 2005 t-shirt, but I also donated one of the two poster tubes (you can only get ’em in sets of two from Staples) that I bought to carry my MoCCA Art Fest 2005 poster home.

I gave away around 50 or 60 business cards and introduced myself to lots of folks, mainly webcomickers. I also reintroduced myself to a number of webcomickers. (I never like to assume that people will actually remember me given the hundreds, if not thousands, of friends, fan, and freaks who stop by their tables at the various conventions they attend.)

I left, temporarily, to grab more cash and sign up for a MoCCA membership. While in the MoCCA offices (just a couple blocks over from the Puck Building), I took about half an hour to look at the Will Eisner Retrospective, which includes a great video of people talking about Will interspersed with comments from Will himself. An interesting presentation – they had the draft pages, covered with whiteout and pasted-over paper, and the finished reproductions as well, plus a sampling of gorgeous original cover art. A good set of examples from his many different books.

On my way out, I found some lost lambs – well, dark and gothy, slightly confused but well-pierced lambs who weren’t really into making conversation – and led them back over to the Art Fest. And then I proceeded to buy MORE COMICS.

Saturday night, I was pretty much just exhausted and left around 5pm to head back to my tiny hotel room where I read a couple of comics and then passed out. I hadn’t seen anything about the Harvey Awards around the Art Fest, and frankly, I kinda forgot that they were giving them out during MoCCA. I don’t even know if riff-raff like me could’ve attended. Not that it mattered…

Sunday I took the subway down to Canal Street and wandered Chinatown in search of baked (or roasted) char siu bao. No luck (well, no good luck, as I finally did find some but they were chock full of crunchy onions – which I don’t like). But I ate some excellent Vietnamese food and headed back to the Art Fest (more subway riding – nice air conditioning and MUCH BETTER than walking).

I forgot my digital camera, so I’d bought one of those disposable cameras that gets you a CD of your pictures along with prints. Sunday, I mostly retraced my steps passed various webcomickers and spent the early afternoon asking people if I might be allowed to take their picture. Everyone said yes! Here are the results:

The room was PACKED!

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) hosting Andy Runton (right), signing and sketching, while volunteer Gary Tyrrell (left) mans the table. Go get yourself a CBLDF membership and help protect 1st Amendment rights and comics AT THE SAME TIME.

SAM BROWN! I FINALLY GOT TO MEET SAM BROWN! And I bought Amazing Rain from him – the only comic I bought on Sunday.

Katherine Arnoldi and a couple of volunteers handle the Friends of Lulu table. Go get yourself a membership and vote on the Lulu awards!

The Dumbrella Guys! Well, some of them. From left to right, Jon Rosenberg, Andrew Bell, and Phillip "Jeffrey Rowland" Karlsson (ask him about the guy with the buttons at San Diego). We talked about monkeys! And, uh, things that monkeys do. Fortunately, the little kid next to us was oblivious, so we weren’t reduced to ashes by an angry god or disgusted parents.

Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content – nice guy!

Left to right, Steve Carey (Poppycock Circus) and the comics-creating duo Dale Beran and David Hellman of A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible. David’s really diggin’ that sammich. Dale tried to confuse me, but David untangled the matter.

Mike Rosenzweig of Everything Jake. It was just so cool to meet Mike because his comic is among the first webcomics I really got addicted to – I think Goats was first, then Sluggy, and eJake shortly after.

Raina Telgemeier – so cheerful!

Mark Rudolph, Sara Turner, and Jerzy Drozd are good peoples.

At the VERY popular FLIGHT table, left to right, Kean Soo, Ryan Sias, Johane Matte, and Kazu Kibuishi. Note that it was really tough to catch all of their attention at the same time. I nixed the bunny-eared shot – sorry Ryan.

I just met this guy at the Fest, but man was Danny KimaNYen super friendly! And he’s a webcomicker.

Danny shared a table with another really nice guy, another webcomicker named Wesley Gunn.

After I took all the pictures I could manage (lots of tables were just too busy to try and interrupt and get comickers to hold still for a picture) I headed upstairs to enjoy the conversation between Jonathan Lethem and Daniel Clowes. That simply rocked out. I didn’t get any pictures, but other people did.

I finished off the Art Fest by watching the animation set:

    "Life" by Mo Willems
    "Five Months Trying to Draw New York" by Marcel Pie Barba
    "Frog" by Chris Conforti
    "Coffee" by Rohitash Rao
    "Handshake" by Patrick Smith
    "The Stork" by Nina Paley
    "Return I will to Old Brazil" by Alex Budovsky
    "The Fan and The Flower" by Bill Plympton
    "Dentist" by Signe Baumane
    "Soccer Time" by Edmond Hawkins
    "Moonraker" by Fran Krause
    "The BackBrace" by Andy and Carolyn London
    "Everybody’s Pregnant" by Debra Solomon
    "Space War" by Christy Caracas

Due to technical difficulties, we didn’t get to see Aaron Augenblick’s "Drunky" or John Dilworth’s "Life in Transition."

"Life" is a collection of bits by a huge number of different illustrators – Mo organized, and each illustrator had to take the last bit of the previous work and create a piece where their illustration ate the previous one. So the first character was eaten by the second, the second was eaten by the third, etc. It’s twisted and mesmerizing and really funny. "Return I will to Old Brazil" has the catchiest theme song EVER. The rest were all interesting and/or fun and really worth the short amount of time required to view ’em.

I left as people were breaking down tables, stopped by my hotel to get my bag, and cabbed over to Penn Station (because man, my travel kit plus ELEVEN POUNDS of comics are HEAVY – even for just a few blocks). I was wicked early, so I read some comics, and chatted with Cristi, shipping maven for Questionable Content and girlfriend of Jeph Jacques, while Jeph read a Kochalka collection. We packed ourselves onto the train to go back home again. And when I got there, I slept a whole helluva lot more cuz I was mighty MIGHTY tired.

Here’s a picture of the mess o’comics I bought (just after I weighed the pile):

If I missed anyone, they’re probably here.

The end.

Oops, p.s. – here’s some awesome street graffiti I noticed on my way out of the city. It’s at the corner of Lafayette and E. Houston, at the corner nearest the Bleeker Street uptown subway station: