Last weekend marked my first appearance at the MoCCA festival, both as an exhibitor and attendee. I'd heard mixed reviews about the show from past exhibitors, so I had to try it out myself. Spending a weekend in selling my comics and picking up new ones is my kind of business trip, so even if it didn't go well, it would be an excuse to go back to New York.
Now that it's come and gone I can say that it was a great success. This was only the second time I've crossed the country for a convention. I've noticed that many East Coasters, don't make it out to exhibit at west coast shows. I understand why, and actually I'm envious of the proximity of big markets and large conventions on east coast. If we had more than Seattle, Portland and San Francisco I'd never leave my time zone either.
But the benefit of going so far for a show is all the new people to meet. Because this was such a highlight at MoCCA I decided to write a little about some of them. First I'll have to acknowledge the usual suspects, the guys who would make these shows great even if I didn't sell a single thing.
First off was my tablemate and comics co-conspirator Matt Ocasio, aka Jack Bracken. He graciously let my swelling mass of products creep over onto his half of the table, provided good conversation, and allowed me to steal many customers that he lured in with his genuine niceness.
Not far from our table were Josh Shalek and Kenan Rubenstein. Josh is a fellow Portlander as well, and gave me copies of both Scenic Byways, the newest and fourth volume of his popular webcomic Welcome to Falling Rock National Park as well as his foldy-comic critique of Malcolm Gladwell, called Boom. Kenan, the creator of the foldy comic format, is a New Yorker, and we only connect in person at or around coventions. This was the first time I was on his turf, so he took us around his beloved Greenpoint for a pre-show pubcrawl, and for Polish food on Sunday night.
Onto some new faces.
Somehow Matt Sundstrom and I both managed to make comics in tiny Portland without knowing about each other, only to cross paths in New York City. Matt traded me a copy of his new book Second Chances, which is about a day-job burnout who makes a pizza-box doppelganger to escape into nature. The plan only works out so well, but the comic is beautifully conceived.
I actually met Ken Wong at SPX last year and was impressed by the ingenuity of his Origami Comics. As a former origamist and current comicker, its the perfect confluence of my artistic passions, both past and present. This year he had a new mini, Cyrano's Ballade. Instead of folding, hes moved onto cutting, where shorter pages play off of the longer ones underneath. Never satisfied with a standard rectangular page, its the kind of innovation I know we'll keep seeing out of Ken.
I spent my first morning in New York, of course, at the Museum of Natural History. Thinking I'd gotten my fix I prepared to satisfy a different realm of nerdiness at the comics show, but worlds collided when I found Charles Fetherolf's Giants of the Earth, which beautifully and creatively chronicles everything that's ever happened. We had a mutual appreciation for each others work, so I walked away with a new fan and a new idol.
Alec Longstreth has the kind of beard you don't forget. I'd seen him around, but we'd never been properly Introduced. Josh Shalek took care of that, which laid the groundwork for an old fashioned comics trade. He gave me the first two issues of Basewood from his series Phase 7. Chapter two ends with a cliffhanger worthy of Lost, which meant I had to get three and four at Stumptown. Now the waiting begins for chapter five...
Alec's occasional partner in crime, Jon Chad was there as well, who I'd met at Stumptown last year. I picked up The Ruby and his new one, Maser. Both of which lived up to the work of his I've already enjoyed.
Sitting to my right was Mike Shea, who traded me for his book Furlough. I'm not usually one for stories of family drama, but with its fantasy tangents, through the eyes of a child, Furlough has a distinguishing edge. It methodically builds towards a satisfyingly simple conclusion and made for great reading on the plane ride home.
Emma T. Capps won my vote for most adorable exhibitor. At 14 years old she demonstrates some remarkable skills and motivation, and for it has earned more awards in those short years than most of us cartoonists achieve in a career. She was selling her new mini-comic, Jam Days at the show, and was donating all proceeds to 826 Valencia, which helps kind 8-18 with their writing skills. With reasons abound, I made the purchase, and as I expected, got a darn good little comic.
I left the show with many other books that I've yet to read, but these are the initial impressions. I'll post more reports on other books as I read them. I applied for next year's MoCCA Fest on the way out the door. so I'm excited to do this all over again.