Why the Heat at MoCCA Matters

Tom Spurgeon brought to my attention that cartoonist Julia Wertz called people complaining about the heat at MoCCA “whiney bitches”. I think that’s handwaving away a real problem. The heat at MoCCA directly affected what I bought (thus decreasing exhibitor sales in a tiny way) for two reasons:

1) Mood. Standing outside in the heat for over an hour and then walking around a muggy room killed some of my first-time-there enthusiasm. If things were more comfortable, I would have bought more, because I would have been closer to that “I love this place! Let me buy everything I see!” mood you so want in a customer. Instead, I was second-guessing myself, because, already being tired, I didn’t want to carry anything I didn’t *really* want.

2) Timing. I didn’t see everything at the show because I had a limited schedule. I spent about an hour, divided, resting because of the heat. That was time I wasn’t shopping. I had aimed to see every table, but that didn’t happen. Who knows what I missed out on?

28 Responses to “Why the Heat at MoCCA Matters”

  1. ADD Says:

    I would have left in five minutes if the heat was as bad as I’ve read, and demanded a refund to boot. I’ve always wanted to go to a MoCCA show, but I now realize unless I see some real movement toward answering the criticisms of this year’s show, I won’t be sorry to miss future outings and will never make the effort to attend a show that cares so little for the people who pay to be there.

  2. Ed Sizemore Says:

    Wertz should be thankful that she’s young and in good health. There was a wide variety of ages and vigor at MoCCA. I imagine at least one person was on meds that made them sensitive to heat. A little sympathy goes a long way.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Alan, I think that’s going a little far. I don’t know yet how the organizers are planning to address legitimate suggestions, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions, and if you gave up on the show over this, you’d miss out on a LOT of cool comics.

  4. ADD Says:

    I have no doubt i would find a lot of cool comics at MoCCA. But I would not ever spend the hundreds of dollars it would take to get to the show not knowing whether or not I would be able to tolerate being there more than 15 minutes.

  5. Fleen: Enjoy Our Semi-Abusive Opinion Mongering » Foggy Says:

    […] MoCCA ‘09 which we will now mention for (promise!) the last time. Short form: yes, the fact that it was sauna-ish matters, and the museum really needs to think about that for the future — between the physical […]

  6. Richard J. Marcej Says:

    Let’s not forget the vendors.

    I’ve sold my work at MoCCA in the past but didn’t do it this year, and from what I’ve been reading, I’m really glad I gave it a skip this year.

    I’ve done many shows in the past, including APE, SPX and some larger (more mainstream books) cons and I’m often left puzzled by how the venders can be nearly “forgotten” by some of the show’s organizers.

    Some shows I’ve been VERY well treated, where the show runners will take a very hands on approach. Ask how things on and how they could help (if it’s needed) Some shows will even offer free food and drink (and that’s very appreciated especially if, you’re like me, sit solo at the table.

    But, IMO, there’s NO excuse to treat the customers (vendors and attendees) so shabbily, to the point where not only sales and good will are lost, but where comfort and health can be threatened? And they’re raising table costs to $400 next year?

    I’d expect that from a Wizard Show (I’ve got plenty of horror stories from them) but MoCCA?

    Poor form MoCCA.

  7. Richard J. Marcej Says:

    Oops. Sorry for all the typos.
    That’s what I get for not proofreading before submitting comment!

  8. Julia Wertz Says:

    I already posted this on the Beat but i’m gonna repeat it here too:

    I think you guys misunderstood what I was saying. I was frustrated about all the whining about the heat instead of reporting on comics. A bunch of blogs (not all of them and not this one) spent way too much time talking about the heat. All the complaints were valid, but it really took away from actual reporting on what MoCCA is about. The heat should have been an after thought, not the main part of the report.

  9. ADD Says:

    And if the comics had been as impressive as the heat was oppressive, Julia, I am quite sure that would have been the case. Not to take anything at all away from the quality of the comics on display, but if it’s hot and uncomfortable enough, I don’t care if you’re R. Crumb drawing me a life-sized Devil Girl, I’m still gonna wanna be somewhere else.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Julia, thank you — that makes a lot more sense to me. I agree.

  11. James Schee Says:

    I gotta go with Alan at least a little on this. I’ve been wanting to go to a convention again for a while now, and MoCCA would certainly be near the top of the list for ones I’d consider.

    Yet that kind of environment would certainly put me off going. Given how much it would cost me to go from where I live, being that uncomfortable would not be appealing.

    I’m hoping to hear that they people behind it are working on ways to fix the matter soon though.

  12. Mark S. Says:

    What makes me wonder is are we as a society, so focused on being comfortable, that we would forsake that which we enjoy to remain comfortable?

    If this is how we feel about a funny book show, then what would it say about us over something actually important?

    Just something to think about.

  13. James Schee Says:

    Well I enjoy oh say an ice cream cone. I wouldn’t really enjoy it too much trying to eat it at oh say the city dump.

  14. Tom Spurgeon Says:

    There were actually a litany of complaints about the show, of which the heat was only the most obvious, and the problem in which the most people shared.

    I’m sympathetic to the idea that a show like MoCCA is supposed to be about something that gets lost when you talk about the nuts and bolts of a show, but the way that gets to happen is to have the nuts and bolts function the way they should when it’s your seventh time doing something. Then the show itself becomes invisible and no one talks about those aspects.

    When the nuts and bolts aren’t functioning and artists with 20 years in the game are saying it’s the first time they’ve seen books delivered that late, and artists are leaving mid-show and multiple people including vendors who have been to every show are proclaiming they don’t know if they’ll return, and then prices get raised so that they’re some of the most expensive tables in all of North American conventions, and people are openly saying that these things have happened because of choices made by the show runners, and several people are furious about a soft apology in the thank you letter, I think that’s a story as much a Gary Panter/Frank Santoro doing a kick-ass panel or David Mazzucchelli releasing a kick-ass book or Kevin Cannon selling out of his Far Arden or a kick-ass sketchbook or two and I’m happy to cover all aspects of a show that present themselves as news that way.

  15. ADD Says:


    It has more to do with than mere comfort. Traveling to MoCCA would be a major expense for me (one I so far have not been able to justify even once, despite only being 4 hours from NYC), and would likely involve bringing some or all of my family. I want to know to a reasonable degree of certainty that if I’m making that expense and asking people I love to spend the day on this particular adventure, that they won’t be miserable, the doors won’t open late and the bolts won’t be popping out of the girders left and right, as it appears they were metaphorically doing this time out. The organizers just need to acknowledge that, you know, “mistakes were made,” and let people interested in the show know what, if anything, will be done to address these problems next time out. A little genuine concern for what went wrong and an apparent commitment to making future shows the best experience they can be would go much further than, in Tom’s words, “a soft apology in the thank you letter.”

  16. Johanna Says:

    Mark, if it’s uncomfortable to this point, it’s no longer enjoyable. And this is a leisure activity for me — if it was something I had to do, things would have been different. Your “comparison” is irrelevant. (If I hadn’t gone, I would have discovered different comics by diving further into the teetering review stack.)

  17. Mark S. Says:

    Johanna, you and Alan have made my point for me. Your creature comfort means more than the activity to hand. My “comparison” was hardly irrelevant, it was an observation and it appears to have been spot on.

    FWIW, I believe the show organizers are idiots if they don’t address the concerns of the attendee’s, vendors and creative types. But the fact that there has been SO MUCH focus on being uncomfortable illustrates how much we, as a society, demand being physically comfortable and have an intolerance for being “hot and sweaty” when we’re involved in some activity where this isn’t to be expected.

  18. Johanna Says:

    I’m afraid, then, I don’t comprehend your “point” (other than the holier-than-thou vibe I hope I’m reading incorrectly). Why shouldn’t people be comfortable if you’re asking them to spend money? People who aren’t enjoying the experience don’t shop. The creators at MoCCA aren’t owed anything by customers; they and the venue need to give purchasers something they want in return for their dollars. This isn’t an “activity”, like visiting a museum — it’s primarily about transactions. (Although I guess someone could pay the entrance fee and do nothing but browse and attend panels. They’d probably get some dirty looks, though.)

  19. Mark S. Says:

    The point, is that you and others place a very high level on creature comfort for an admitted leisure activity.

    I guess the question is; what is more important…trawling through boxes of comics or being comfortable whilst doing so?

    If that makes me appear “holier-than-thou” then so be it.

    Things happen. Life happens. In the overall scheme of things, being in a large muggy room isn’t that big a deal. That it would be a deal-breaker for going to a funny book show is kind of odd to me.

  20. Jeff Says:

    I agree that “In the overall scheme of things, being in a large muggy room isn’t that big a deal,” but I really think the point that you’re missing here is that there are plenty of opportunities to “trawl” through a box of comics, and most of the time those opportunities are air-conditioned. As a result, there really ISN’T a reason to be uncomfortable while doing so. If I’m standing in front of 2 identical comic shops, and one of them is air conditioned and one isn’t, and it’s 100 degrees outside, I’m going to choose the one with the a/c, simple as that. I don’t think that proves that creature comfort is of the utmost importance to me, it just proves that, when given the option, I take advantage of modern conveniences, and I see no harm in that. If the show in question was the greatest “funny book” con in the country, or it was the only con in that PART of the country, the heat would have been annoying, but it might not have been as large an issue as it is being made into. Since that is NOT the case, then I think it is a perfectly acceptable complaint for attendees to voice.

  21. Tom Spurgeon Says:

    I find it odd that anyone would want to spend money to go to a hot room with a long and unnecessary line to get in where some of the artists they want to see might have booked because they didn’t want to be there and some of the artists are grumpy because it’s unpleasant to be there and no big guests were brought in like in other years and a ton of folks are anxious because traffic is down and they don’t remember seeing any publicity or any local news coverage and in some cases they weren’t even listed and programming’s at some time you can’t figure out — when you could have gone to TCAF and had a much more human, pleasant experience perhaps for less money (four-star hotel = $89) or to SPX and probably ditto or just gone to a half-dozen sites and bought more comics (via discount) and sat by the pool at home drinking lemonade.

    But maybe that’s me.

    This wasn’t “life happens.” This was “bullshit planning and execution” happened. Most people did go and did have a good time, and you could read about these experience the same places you’re reading about the less fortunate factors, but you can’t blame other people for being hesitant in returning when a company that had its best sales weekend by a multiple of maybe three didn’t choose to re-up.

    It’s not 1987 — people have options now. Buy shit, expect to receive more shit in the future. Comics fans should have learned THAT by now at least.

  22. Johanna Says:

    Jeff, thanks for that. I was trying to say something similar but obviously not doing a good enough job. There are plenty of other options to find out about good, indy, small press comics, and most are already more convenient than trekking to NYC.

    Tom, I love your run-on sentence! What an excellent summation.

  23. Richard J. Marcej Says:

    Mark S., the point I believe you’re missing is that MoCCA or any show of it’s kind is NOT a “leisure activity” for those of us who purchase a table, bring our printed work and attempt to sell them to possible new readers and customers.

    As has been mentioned before the tables at MoCCA are some of the most expensive of all comic shows. That, along with the travel to-and-from the show, and accommodations (and this is New York City, so we’re not talking cheap here) means that our cost for a “leisure activity” can be pretty high well before the doors to the show open.

    But along with just making (some) money, shows like MoCCA are more about meeting your readers or people that are fans of your work. Or, meeting other artists and writers that you may have never known about, were it not for the show.

    Put all of that in an environment that is incredibly uncomfortable, off putting and (to some) poor health conditions) then you’re less likely to accomplish any of your goals for this show.

  24. David Oakes Says:

    I think the fact that it is a “leisure activity” (for the buyers – the sellers are just screwed) makes the environment that much more important.

    This isn’t a job, where you have to put up with certain inconveniences for the money. Nor is it a personal improvment, like school or exercize, where you trade suffering in the present for future benefits. It is supposed to be fun. Not Art, not Community, but Fun. So if it wasn’t fun, then “the show” failed, even if it wasn’t the comics’ fault.

  25. Karen Green Says:

    I think the points about health concerns with the heat are valid. And for people who have to sit in the show all day long behind a table..that’s got to get brutal.

    But were any of you at MoCCA 2008? That weekend was one of NYC’s summer finest, with temperatures in the high 90s and humidity not too far behind. Simply walking from the subway to the Puck Building was an exercise in endurance, and then walking into a warren of tiny rooms with no A/C was…well, it was just hell. I think I lost about 15 pounds in water weight on the Saturday, and I refused to go back on Sunday.

    So this year, it seemed to me, MoCCA was trying to remedy the nightmare of ’08 with a new venue. No? And why the heat gets to be such a big story this year is mysterious to me.

    FAR worse, to my mind, was the chaos of Saturday, with lines ’round the block, delayed opening, undelivered books, panel scheduling mayhem, etc. That was Mickey Mouse, and MoCCA needs to step up their game.

    The costs to exhibitors, and the expected increase, also need to be re-examined. The sort of creators that MoCCA is trying to attract can’t be asked to pay $400 a table. How do you make the festival worth your while if you’re selling a pile of $2 minicomics? Or if you have to raise the price of the minicomics past the point where minicomics ought to be priced? Sure, the festival is for exposure, but it shouldn’t come completely at the creators’ expense.

    That being said, despite standing in the sun for an hour and a quarter (hey, time flies when you’re hanging out with Tucker Stone), despite having to miss the Fletcher Hanks panel that I’d been looking forward to for weeks because of scheduling changes, despite the heat, I had a fabulous time and bought lots of great stuff. And met great people.

    That counts for something, doesn’t it?

  26. mmm Says:

    You know, if Mark S. is right, why not bring in five boiling cauldrons to MoCCA? Would it still be a “great show?”

  27. Alan Coil Says:

    If I’m playing basketball or even golf, I don’t mind getting sweaty.

    But this is a show that featured paper product. Paper and humidity don’t mix well, and even worse is sweaty fingers all over the paper product. THAT’s the reason you need air conditioning, even a/c that can’t match the heat in intensity, as has happened a couple times at the Chicago show in the past. At least it’s somewhat cooler.

  28. Johanna Says:

    Karen, thank you for reminding us what’s important.




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