This past Saturday, I went to the MoCCA Festival in Manhattan. It’s a smaller independent based comic show put on by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. I’ve lived in New York for 3 years but never made my way over there.
I know this seems ironic, as I’ve received the rating of indie guy from much of the iFanbase, but the fact is, I’m still fairly mainstream in my tastes, and more so my comic knowledge. We don’t cover the festival with a video show because, we don’t really know enough of the scene to do a good job with it, and if you can’t do something well, it might be best to leave it to someone else. That being said, it’s an utter crime that I’ve skipped the small, cozy show in my own backyard for far too long. These are the folks in comics who need the support. But then, judging by the crowds, they’re doing OK.
My first impression is that it’s a small show. Housed in the 69th Regiment Armory (replete with real soldiers inside and real camo Humvee’s outside), it’s one big cavernous room. While certainly not the size and spectacle that San Diego or New York offers, it wasn’t a tiny affair either. It was perhaps a little bit smaller than HeroesCon. Represented were a whole lot of folks making their own comics and mini-comics, as well as the bigger industry. No Marvel, DC, Image or Dark Horse at this show. Nope, Top Shelf and Drawn and Quarterly were the big dogs at this show. There was a Vertigo table, but it was a pretty low key affair in general.
The cool thing about a show like this is that there’s none of that *stuff* that comes with other comic shows. No dealers but the people who make or publish comics. No toy sales. No nothing. It’s sort of like one big artists alley, and if you know your indie stuff, or just want to find something new and meet some passionate artistic people, it’s the place for you. There were some signings from some of the publishers, but it was all fairly low key.
Even if you’re not too familiar with the scene, you might have recognized some of the faces. The Vertigo table was one good place for sightings. Brian Wood was camped there most of the day, looking slightly less misanthropic than usual. Cameron Stewart did a stint talking about Seaguy. One of our current favorite guys, Joe Kelly made am appearance for his Vertigo work. Traveling along the floor, there were others as well. Big names (singular) in indie comics like Seth and Jason were spotted. Hope Larson and Adrian Tomine were on hand. I even spotted Zander Cannon, the bravest man in comics, the man with the matinee idol name who dared to try to fill Alan Moore’s shoes on Top Ten. I’m pretty sure I could hear his balls thumping on the ground as he walked from across the hall. His brother, Kevin Cannon was on hand because his new book from Top Shelf, Far Arden, which was Top Shelf’s biggest seller of the weekend. I spent some time hanging out with my pal Alex Robinson. Then his buddy, Freddie and Me creator Mike Dawson showed up. (Alex and Mike have started a podcast that has nothing to do with comics called Ink Panthers, and they’re pretty funny guys. It’s not on iTunes yet, but you can check it out here.)
One of the highlights of the day for me was talking to Charlito of Indie Spinner Rack. I’ve been a big fan of Charlito since meeting him in San Diego at the first podcasters panel. I eagerly bought their first anthology, Awesome, and was really excited to see their second such effort, Awesome 2: Awesomer, this time, being put out by Top Shelf. With a top notch list of creators, and a cover by Jeff Smith of all people, I’ll be picking it up as soon as possible. Those guys put out a great show, and it’s obvious that people love them for it. I’m one of them.
I also ran into and said howdy to some other podcasters like Joe Gonzalez of Comic News Insider and Bryan Deemer of Comic Geek Speak (No, there’s no rivalry.) It’s possible I was also stalked by Darrell, but it’s best to keep that fairly mum on that score.
But wait, why didn’t I pick up anything? Funny thing about that. I walked into the show, and realized I didn’t have a single cent on me, and while there were a few places here and there that took credit cards, that wasn’t really the spot where I would have wanted to spend my money. I suppose I’m so used to going to cons, and having the crew and the camera, and stuff to do that it didn’t occur to me that I’d actually want some cash. Eventually I made my way out to an ATM and picked up some cash, but only bought one thing.
What was that you ask? Alex Robinson introduced me to his friend John Kerschbaum, creator of Petey & Pussy, which was nominated for an Eisner for best humor publication in 2008. John had some issues of The Wiggly Reader, a series of issues some of the best designed covers I’d seen in a while, one depicting an infinite number of Lincoln Assassinations and that’s really what sold me. It wasn’t new by any means, but honestly, I needed no more.
Given the chance, I would have also gone for Ace-Face from the aforementioned Mike Dawson, because I’ve been meaning to.
But eventually, I just had to clear out. The only drawback of the whole thing was that for some reason, it was hotter than hell in that armory. Say what you will about mainstream comic fans, but when the heat gets pumped up, they stink just the same as the indie folks. Plus, far more of the people at MoCCA were wearing synthetic fabric vintage suits.
By the way, I need more affectations. My glasses don’t scream indie comics, and my clothes aren’t in any way vintage. I kid. I learned it’s just as easy to make jokes about the indie scene as the superhero set. It’s not any more right to do it to them. It is fun in either case, however.
If you want a show that’s ALL about comics, and comics of all stripes, there are much worse places to be. It all supports a great comics scene and a whole lot of tireless artists who need the exposure. They love comics as much or more than anyone, and these are the folks who will create the future of comics. It’s important to pay attention. If you get the chance, it’s a great little show.