MoCCA Minicomics 2012

It’s wonderful to be able to go through the minicomics I brought back from this year’s MoCCA Fest and recall how much fun I had at the show. Here are some of my highlight acquisitions.

Urban Nomad

Urban Nomad #1 cover

I enjoy Alisa HarrisCooking Up Comics, so I was eager to try her minicomic series Urban Nomad.

The comics contain short pieces, moments from her life as an art student in New York City, with emphasis on the urban environment. I like the balance between the dream of being a creator in the most exciting place in the country and the reality of the struggles to survive there. Some of the incidents are widely universal — such as working in a bookstore or the depression of a cubicle job — while others are particular to the region, as when dealing with a persistent subway masher or a particularly agressive pet cat or a mice infestation. They’re not all bad — I liked the reminder of how diverse international grocery stores could be. She also talks about forming a domestic partnership and even includes a short piece on how she got into comics.

Harris’ art really appeals to me. It’s got a clean line and a great sense of movement. I wasn’t surprised to find out that she’d been an animator, since she has the flow breakdown skills that comes from that kind of work. The only suggestion I have for improvement is to include the story titles on the pages themselves. Her works flow into each other, and sometimes I only recognized the distinctions based on the table of contents.

What’s Normal Anyway?

What's Normal Anyway? cover

Morgan Boecher’s webcomic What’s Normal Anyway? tackles being a trans male with jokes and observation. He’s got a good sense of humor about a very tricky subject, but the comic also works to increase awareness of what it might be like to be in such a situation. There are all kinds of little notes that can only be expressed by someone who’s been there and knows. Funny and educational, which makes for a neat discovery.

This minicomic contains the strips from the beginning through August 1, 2011, which covers Boecher’s last year of college in Florida. I don’t see a Store link on Boecher’s site, so I don’t know if he’s offering it online yet. I hope to see a sequel volume at next year’s show; in the meantime, the strip updates every Monday.

(Update: I’ve been informed that a store section should be added to the website this summer.)

As the Crow Flies

As the Crow Flies cover

This first chapter of Melanie Gillman’s new story, about a queer black teen girl who finds herself in an all-white Christian summer camp. It’s being serialized online, but the print version has a few more pages than are up on the website so far.

This is another case where I can’t find a link to buy the minicomic online; maybe the author considers it unnecessary, or maybe the convention show and online audiences are considered different enough there’s no point in offering the same things to them, or maybe the print version exists only to have something to sell in order to make back table fees. Either way, it’s a trend I’m just noticing, and I need to talk to more creators about it. Then again, perhaps artists just don’t want to manage a mail order business.

Anyway, Gillman’s colored pencils are gorgeous and beautifully textured, while the story subject fascinates me. Charlie, our protagonist, is distinctly an outsider, and the idea of an all-girl backpacking trip is a good one to draw her differences into sharp focus while demonstrating achievement. It’s terrific to see such a female-centered story presented in such normal fashion. I want to be part of this group of characters.

I admire Gillman for taking on the question of religion as well. Many creators aren’t willing to cover it, or treat it in flat, two-dimensional ways, but that’s not the case here so far. It’s a motivating force in so many people’s lives that I welcome seeing it in comic stories.

Rockall

Rockall 2 cover

Rockall is an Irish island in this dialect-driven folktale by Amelia Onorato. Tommy is newly arrived to work a croft, but the widow and son of the former farmer are still living there. She’s said to be a selkie, searching for her seal skin so she can return to the sea, her home.

What we have is a charming story about the nature of small towns and outsiders. It’s plainly told, which is just what it needs, conveyed in a style that suits its characters, hardy island folk. Onorato has a good sense of black. The woman’s long black hair and dress pick her out among the panels, and other items of clothing ground the characters on the pages.

At first, I thought Tommy was going to be the typical naive youngster setting out for life on his own, but he’s got more intelligence and know-how than I gave him credit for. The series runs as a webcomic as well. It’s a wonderful story, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

Happy Punks

Happy Punks

John Seven and Jana Christy, who once upon a time back in the day brought us the Very Vicky comic, are dipping toes back into the medium with this little book of Happy Punks teaching us how to barter.

It’s brightly colored, as though a children’s book for aspiring anarchists, with a cut-paper assembly look. The story is simple, as one character trades silly objects in order to get the guitar string he needs, but reassuring and pleasant, a reminder that there are more ways to get through life than selfishly.

There will be more Happy Punks coming out later this year and next, apparently, and I’ll be happy to see them. It’s being exposed to this kind of alternate world view that expands minds and keeps us young.

So Many Moons

Billage, based on his website, loves the ocean, and that feel of time spent at the shore comes through in this experiential portrait of a summer day. Pages are made up of fragments of observation and moment, scattered. I think the activity shown is called kiteboarding, but it’s not explained so much as shared. It requires some work from the reader to puzzle it out if they’re not already familiar with the activity, but once immersed, it seems fun.


3 Responses to “MoCCA Minicomics 2012”

  1. chuck forsman Says:

    Hi,

    Saw your thing up there about mini comics artists having no place to buy their work online. This frustrates me as well. But when they do have a place to buy something I put them up on my site called Muster-list.com. It is a constantly growing list of links to buy mini comics.

    c

  2. Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales actually stronger than they look … | The Wholesale Direct Distributors Says:

    [...] Comics | Johanna Draper Carlson shows off some of the minicomics she picked up at MoCCA. [Comics Worth Reading] [...]

  3. Melanie Gillman’s Graduation Comic » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] The immensely talented Melanie Gillman has posted the minicomic she created to celebrate her graduation from the Center for Cartoon Studies. I’ve loved her work, especially her use of colored pencils, since I stumbled across her Smbitten last year; she’s currently working on a new webcomic called As the Crow Flies. [...]

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