Every year the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Arts hosts an independent comics convention, known as MoCCA Festival (or, usually, just called MoCCA as well). Held at the 26th Street Armory on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, this year MoCCA had over 400 artists. The mood and market are similar to Portland, Oregon’s beloved Stumptown Comics Fest—you won’t find superheroes or manga at MoCCA, unless the superheroes are by indy publishers and the manga is Black Jack or Red Snow.
The Graphic Universe table was located between the balloon-festooned table run by First Second Books and the table presided over by Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye author and First Second designer Colleen AF Venable, which featured her lumberjack zines, jewelry by former GU editorial intern Marianne Ways, and books by animator Scott Bateman. Although traffic seemed a little lighter this year than in 2009, we found new (very young!) readers, with lots of excitement generated by Guinea Pig, Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox, and Twisted Journeys #12, Kung Fu Masters. We sold a lot of books; met quite a few of our artists, authors, and letterers including Steph Yue, Zack Giallongo, Yuko Ota, Andrés Martínez and Na Liu, and Hyeondo Park; hobnobbed with bloggers; and bought some new T-shirts.
For me, MoCCA has always been dangerous. It’s essentially a convention all of comics that I would consider reading. In the past, I limited my time at the con. If I ran out of cash, I went home. One year I hit the ATM twice out of weakness.
Webcomics have been on the rise at MoCCA. This year the Topatoco booth had an impressive presence, with Kate Beaton signing comics next to the Wondermark guys. Beaton’s collection is self-published, but Wondermark has found distribution through Dark Horse comics, following shortly on the heels of Dark Horse’s Achewood collection. There were plenty of up-and-coming artists to discover as well, and excellent collections from students from the Center for Cartoon Studies and other schools. The quality level and creativity of the exhibitors at MoCCA 2010 reached a new high this year. Our office bookcase of books and samples is overflowing.
Expect to see Graphic Universe at MoCCA 2011 with an even wider range of titles to fit onto the table. And maybe even balloons of our own.