MoCCA Fest 2015 Report

April 12th, 2015

eleanor.smallIt’s been about ten years since I first attended a MoCCA event, and I have to say, MoCCA Fest really is a must-do comics event, along with Stumptown, Small Press Expo and TCAF.

In a discussion about the unfortunate timing of Flame-con, I pointed out that that there is a space that “comic cons” inhabit in between comic events and anime cons, in which 87% of the con is about the cosplay, another 8% is guest/industry and everything I like – the creating, publishing, enjoying of narrative – is shoved into the remaining 5%. As a result, while I think I should get to Flame-con, it would never be  a must-do, the way MoCCA is for me.

This year MoCCA Fest has a new home, the 548 Center over by the High Line. The 4-floor layout and terrifying walk up stairs reminded me of the original years squeezed into the attractive, but oddly built Puck Building. So, downtown once again, only way on the west side. A good thing for me, if they stay there for a bit.

Industry, such as it is, is located on the 2nd floor, and artists are arranged around the 3rd and 4th floors. All the floors were pretty well packed with artists and people. Panels were held about 2 blocks away at the High Line hotel, which looked to me like an old plant that had been converted into a hotel. It was confusing to get around, but staff was very helpful and the panel rooms were comfortable sizes.

I did a quick once or twice around looking for folks, then went around the floors a few more times with intent to buy. My first stop was Nobrow books, where I was able to confirm that Sam Bosma (who I had a chance to speak to later) is indeed continuing the series he began in Fantasy Sports No. 1. This was everything I’m looking for in a comic for kids and adults, so I was thrilled to  hear that we’d be getting more.

 

 

Adownloadlso exciting was speaking to Molly Ostertag and Brennan Lee Mulligan about the collected volume of their delightful webcomic, Strong Female Protagonist. Ostertag is enthusiastic about the future of the webcomic, which she notes is ongoing, and hopes to do a second volume Kickstarter in the future. I certainly hope so. Their comic is refreshing, with a nice balance of  whimsy and realism.

 

download (1)Moving away from youth, I also picked up Jennifer Hayden’s Underwire, which is an almost maddeningly mature perspective. She and I chatted about the lie that is us as adults and how it always surprises us when we are capable of making a command decision that sounds sensible even as we make it. ^_^ It seems creepy, even to us.

 

I saw, but was unable to buy, Ladies of Literature, which was a lovely artbook, but learned that a second volume is currently in Kickstarter, which made me think that the one real limitation of crowdfunding is that it still doesn’t make it any easier to get a book that looks interesting. ^_^;

limpwristcoverssNew York is an infinitely diverse and interesting place, and I’m sorry to say that MoCCA doesn’t really give one a good grasp of this. In past years I’ve seen more racial diversity…. Also, there is a shocking lack of queer comics at MoCCA – especially amazing since the queer comics scene in NYC is still a pretty thriving place. Since Prism Comics shifted their focus over to the west coast exclusively, there’s a bit of a gap.  Northwest Press was in attendance, but there were fewer LGBTQ creators among the tables than in past years. Perhaps because Queer & Comics is in a few weeks and they expect a more focused audience for their wares. I’ll hope so, anyway. I’m afraid to project, but have to imagine that increasing costs has something to do with the lack of diversity, as well. In the meantime, Paper Rocket Minicomics gave me a copy of Limp Wrist, a memoir by a trans comic creator.

download (2)I took a moment to congratulate Raina Telgemeier on her amazing year of accomplishments. In conversation, she mentioned that she still thinks there’s a lot more room for YA comics and while she’s glad to see Scholastic Press really wade into the fray with tremendous support for YA-focused graphic novels – and recognition by YA literary awards committees like the Newberry and Caldecott awards – she still feels there’s room for more.

download (4)Later in the day, this was echoed by Alison Wilgus, as we discussed how comics were treated as a genre, rather than a media and how the few non-comic book companies who publish comics are both bolstered by – and limited by – the larger publishing regimes that own them. Yen Press has better access to advertising, from being part of Hachette, but their marketing is still limited to either “this is a manga thing” or “this is a comics thing,” rather than marketing sports comics to sports lovers and mystery comic to mystery lovers.

Between the two conversations, I started to realize that we are just back at the point where comics were pre-Comics Code days, where romance, kids comics, war, biographical and superhero comics could live side by side and all have a place. With the help of the folks at MoCCA, we’ll get there yet.

evilqTwo last notes. The one comic I picked up unread was Jessi Sherron’s The Evil Queen.  No convincing needed, I flipped through, loved the art and the uncompromising character and was sold. ^_^

Thanks also to Marguerite, Christopher, Johanna , Brigid and Alison for a lovely dinner and a beautiful walk through midtown in full geek-out mode and especial thank to James, our kind and generous host. ^_^

Lastly, to quote Brigid Alverson, “There were no ugly comics” at MoCCA. I’d go so far as to say that MoCCA is my annual reminder that comics are alive, well, and thriving.

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