I had such grandiose plans for MoCCA this year. I was gonna go to all sorts of parties, hang out with some amazing people. On Thursday, I was so stoked. I felt great, had energy and money…and then I woke up Friday with that stomach bug that was going around. So Friday was killed dead as I spent the day feverish and sick, really hoping that I still could make it in for a bit Saturday.
Three cheers for clean living. I woke Saturday feel perfectly fine, just a bit tired and amazingly managed to survive the longest train ride of my life into the city. (I did not actually think it was possible to take that long on the train into New York from my town.) Ran up to Book-Off, ran down to the 69th regiment armory, ran in to be instantly reminded of why I like MoCCA ArtFest so much. Like TCAF, the focus is on original work, like the best corners of Comiket, there is a lively, thriving community around those original works. Walking through MoCCA there’s a whole lot of people smiling, laughing, hugging and talking…about comics. It’s a kind of nerdvana. ^_^
To paraphrase Marguerite Dabaie, from whom I bought some lovely coasters from her Pajikant series, MoCCA isn’t really about “comics comics” – it’s about stories that have to be told and comics is the tool, rather than merely a media.
MoCCA redefines itself a bit every year. This year it was organized almost topically, with “larger” publishers up at the front. By larger, I still mean pretty small, Fantagraphics, First Second, and the like.
Like Comiket, the side rows are peopled by larger small presses, notable names and bigger draws. Also like Comiket, the ever-growing selection of “goods” is sometimes as good or better than the actual comics. Speaking to my wife about it, we decided that goods are a genuinely fabulous way to really engage and “own” the story that you like so much.
It was an incredible pleasure to once again have a chance to catch up with Jennifer Hayden, with whom I had an amazing conversation about her illustration for the kid’s book The Liberty Cafe. Because I had been really sick the day before, I just felt absolutely obliged to not touch anything or look through anyone’s books, so Jennifer walked me through the story, commenting on her comic within the illustration technique to keep the reader connected with the protagonist until they “arrive” in the story. It was a terrific conversation with a stellar artist. Jennifer, too, is expanding out into goods, and has an awesome selection of individual original panels of her work, as well as necklaces and other coolness.
I caught up very briefly with Jennifer Camper, who is working on an upcoming queer comics conference (hopefully, I’ll have more info in future days about that for you) and was able to catch some of the ‘How Are Comics Queer’ panel, with Gay Comix pioneer Howard Cruse.
I stopped by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s table, which is hosting a number of top names at the event and had a quick chat with Charles Brownstein, the Executive Director about how busy the organization has been already this year advocating for first-amendment rights. I was – at last! – able to get a copy of the CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices to which I contributed two chapters. I started reading the book on the way home and I really think the entire team did a fantastic job. If you want a solid overview of Manga history, the demographic genres and/or a guide for your teachers and librarians I absolutely think this book is top-notch. We done good. Charles said he hopes for a revised edition in the future with illustrations.
Lastly, just before I left I made my way to the kids section, (where I was really careful to touch nothing), to the Boom! Studios table, where I had a chance to meet Shannon Watters, one of the creators of the LumberJanes! Squee! Unfortunately for me, they were sold out, so no review until I get a copy, but this comic is one I have been waiting for with great anticipation.
In case you’ve missed the buzz, the LumberJanes is about “Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp…defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons”. You understand why I want to read this, yes?
About this time, I felt fairly wiped, dragged my butt back onto the train and spent the ride home speaking with a lovely young woman for whom the world is her oyster. In fact, the entire day was basically filled with people, young and old who make their worlds for themselves. And that is exactly why I like MoCCA so much.
Next year, I promise to be healthy and may very well get a room in the city, so I can go to the damn parties. Who’s coming with me?