MoCCA 2012 Report

Yo, Tommy and I drove up to the MoCCA 2012 comics festival in NYC on Saturday. I’ve written a detailed report (with photos by Tommy) on the events of the first day of the two day festival. You can read it below the jump.

So, Tommy and I drove up to the MoCCA 2012 comics festival in NYC on Saturday. We had KETTLE DRUMMER BOOKS publisher, Lance Hansen, in tow. It was a slightly overcast and slightly chilly (typical) late April day.


MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969 – Dir. John Schlesinger) Redux.       Lance (left) and I do a particularly terrible job recreating a scene of the famous duo. My woefully misguided radical urbane interpretation of the “Ratso Rizzo” character is strictly from hunger.


We arrived in Manhattan around 11:30 and immediately set off to get something to eat. We went to a popular spot, Baoguette located right across Lexington Avenue from MoCCA’s main entrance. We each got one of their Vietnamese hoagies that was really damn tasty. Tommy and I took ours to Madison Square park to enjoy it in peace and plan out the day at the show while Lance got right to selling his books.


PHINKWELL‘s Dre Grigoropol and KETTLE DRUMMER‘s Lance Hansen.


When Tommy and I got back to MoCCA we headed directly to the “The State of Small Publishing” panel (already in progress). The panel was moderated by Heidi MacDonald and featured RETROFIT‘s Box Brown, SECRET ACRES‘s Barry Matthews, classic reprint meister, Craig Yoe, and Stephen Robson of England’s FANFARE BOOKS. It was an excellent, informative panel with the participants being candid and forthcoming. Our Philly coleague, Box Brown spoke about his six month old, RETROFIT comics publishing initiative and his DIY philosophy of being a publisher/distributor of the mini comic line. Steven Robson basically publishes books he likes and doesn’t make much profit until the second printing. Barry Matthews said a mention on NPR can send sales through the roof and Craig Yoe, the (self proclaimed) oldest panel participant, could foresee a day when comics would cease to be published on paper and would be exclusively electronic (causing one audience member to nearly become hysterical at the prospect). One thing they all agreed on was that marketing the books is the hardest part of publishing with Box Brown adding that FACEBOOK was a great way to build an audience. I was surprise to find that I had spent the previous half hour sitting behind Ian Harker and hadn’t known it was him until he turned around. Yikes!


The State of Small Publishing panel
Left to right: Box Brown, Steven Robson, Barry Matthews, Craig Yoe (gesturing) and the Heidi MacDonald.


I hung around for the next panel, the Klein Award presentation to Gary Panter. Tommy headed off to the dealer room. Mr. Panter was informatively interviewed by Bill Kartopoulos about his life and career with a visual assist of a slide show. Mr Panter’s father was a realistic painter of western art but the young Gary’s art in early 1970′s was a far cry from his father’s. He was involved in the early underground scene and then moved easily into the LA punk scene. He touched on what may be his most famous work, on PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE in the early 80s. To him it was “just a job” and not his real work which is mostly sketch book drawings and paintings. It was nice to see that the long awaited republication of his DALTOKYO series is imminent. It was a rare chance to hear this great artist speak.

Tommy returned for the next panel on Nordic Comics. I didn’t feel like getting up so I stuck around. The panel featured cartoonists from the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Most of the artists on the panel had art published in the new book KOLOR KLIMAX from Fantagraphics. The lone artist who didn’t was Danish cartoonist, Peter Madsen, who does the popular VALHALLA series. Tommy, who is Danish, was very familiar with the artist’s work and in fact had a common friend. Tommy was able to chat with him briefly later. The other artists on the panel did comics not so dissimilar from the art/alternative comics in North America. There’s some nice looking art that I hope will get more exposure over here. Tommy informed me that Ms. Leka took off her prosthetic leg and waived it around at the end of the panel to which I am truly sorry I left before it was over. It would have boosted my opinion of the panel, MoCCA, the whole nordic comics community and ultimately mankind itself, immeasurably. Or did he dream it? Hmmmmm.


The Nordic Roundtable panel
Left to right: Unknown guy, Kaisa Leka (obscured!), Peter Madsen, Mattias Elftorp, Bendik Kaltenborn & moderator Fredrik Stromberg


It was time to finally get up and hit the dealer’s room. Careful not to meet the gaze of any seller, I wandered along the center of the isle until something…anything caught my jaundiced eye. Although I have literally “seen it all” I am still able do be detoured by the sight a confident brush line at twenty feet. Alas, there was a whole lot of stuff that didn’t catch my eye. I did stop by to chat with Box Brown as I picked up the latest (and last newspaper) edition of Ian Harker’s SECRET PRISON (#666) at his table. I also procured a copy of his CHUBBY CHASERS mini which seems to be up my street (I think). I also stopped by and chatted with the FANFARE BOOKS guy (who wasn’t Stephen Robson). I said how much I thoroughly enjoyed both Hideo Azuma’s DISAPPEARANCE DIARY and Kazuichi Hanawa’s DOING TIME. Having just then realized they were both from the same publisher (duh!). FANFARE/POTENT MON have been quietly putting out some high quality books the last several years. Here’s to them getting more attention. The gentleman behind the table suggested their YEARS OF THE ELEPHANT by Belgian artist Likky Linthout to me. It looks good! So, I’m eager to give this nearly unknown tome a read. I’m generally not a huge buyer of books at shows but I do bring home a pretty good handful. This show, I had one of the smallest collective buys I ever made – one mini and one book.


More people behind tables than in front of? Let’s count.

I decided to head down and check out Bob Sikoryak‘s popular and long running, spoken word comics slide show, “Carousel” (already in progress). This panel easily had the largest audience of the day as it was standing room only for me. I came in when Bob was doing his hilarious Popeye/Odysseus mash-up followed by Leslie Stein‘s “Sister Carrie.” Michael Kupperman brought the house down with his absurd “69 Moon Landing” strip reading. Finally, Lauren Weinstein, ended the show by melting the heart’s of the audience with her autobio tale of being a mommy. Fortunately, my heart is as cold as ice, thank you for asking.

We got out of the last panel ’round 6:30. Most of the dealers tables were covered by then except for a few stragglers. We met up with PHINKWELL’s Dre Grigoropol as well as some PHILLY COMIX JAM pals, Jo-Jo Sherrow and Jason Clarke. We headed out onto Lexington Avenue in serach of a beer and a bite. It was more difficult than expected as most bars and taverns were deafening. We settled on a retreat for young Republicans where I proclaimed myself the new “not Mitt.”

Wearily, Tommy and I headed back to Philly talking comics and listening to the soothing Bossa Nova stylings of Antonio Carlos Jobim as we tore through the wilds of Jersey at 70 mph.

All in all it seemed to be a show with little energy with a few notable exceptions noted above. Most of the panels were sparsley attended except for Carousel. And the show seemed to lack big names. The show seemed sparsely attended perhaps due to the pricey $15 per day admittance charge.