MoCCA Fest 2017: Some Thoughts and Pictures

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MoCCA Fest 2017 was, as expected, a success, at least based on the crowds thronging the first of its two days. Typical of today’s comic arts festivals (as opposed to comic book conventions, which are more spectacle), there was a wide diversity of exhibitors — including publishers Top Shelf/IDW, Fantagraphics, Nobrow, NBM, First Second, Pantheon, and Abrams/SelfMadeHero — and attendees. Here are just a few of the moments that struck me.

Cliff Chiang at MoCCA Fest 2017

Cliff Chiang, here signing at the CBLDF table, was one of the six Guests of Honor at the show. It’s been wonderful to see his work over the years — Paper Girls, of course, is the newest — and he’s also just the nicest guy to catch up with.

Becky Cloonan at MoCCA Fest 2017

On Sunday, Becky Cloonan, another Guest of Honor, had sold out of everything but a few prints.

Lucy Bellwood at MoCCA Fest 2017

Lucy Bellwood was full of energy and had a nicely cool location just off the stairwell. Her Baggywrinkles seemed to be selling strongly.

Jon Nielsen at MoCCA Fest 2017

Jon Nielsen debuted Look at the NBM table. It’s the story of a robot looking for meaning.

Lauren Purje at MoCCA Fest 2017

Lauren Purje on Sunday had just about sold out of the first printing of her You Might Be An Artist If …, published by Top Shelf.

Simon Arizpe at MoCCA Fest 2017

Simon Arizpe, “paper engineer” (as his business card has it), had a three-dimensional paper sculpture called “The Wild” that rotated from a bar to a salmon in a stream. (Check the link for a video.) Fascinating to see!

Neil Dvorak at MoCCA Fest 2017

The best booth of the show belonged to Neil Dvorak, who was local and “had a friend with a Land Cruiser” to transport over an antique desk, floor lamp, table, and other accoutrements of a lovely little workspace.

Rubik's Cube from Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts

The favorite promo item of the show: a Rubik’s Cube promoting Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. There were a number of academic programs set up at the show, including SVA, RISD, FIT MFA, MICA, and of course, the Center for Cartoon Studies. (I’m probably missing several.) They would generally have information both on the program and an opportunity for students to display and sell their works.

Josh Neufeld at MoCCA Fest 2017

Along similar lines, dean of journalism comics Josh Neufeld was there to talk about the “low-residency MFA program” at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts and sell his Vagabonds comic, a great read.

Of course, I picked up some interesting-looking minicomics to read and write about once I’m home and can give them the time they deserve. One in particular was R. Sikoryak’s “Masterpiece Mini-Comics”, to go along with his previous big book of Masterpiece Comics.

My biggest complaints about the show were two-fold: First, it was too crowded. That’s not a bad thing for exhibitors (unless people can’t get to their booths), but I got tired of being butt- and backpack-bumped. (This wasn’t helped by the cold weather necessitating big coats, although there was a free coat check provided, thankfully. And I was thrilled that the drenching rain that fell all day Friday was gone for the weekend.) I’m not sure anything can be done about this, though, since there’s clearly a hunger for the material and lots of people wanted to attend the show. I dealt with it by taking frequent breaks away from the show floor, which I should have done anyway.

Plus, on Sunday, the attendee level was more manageable, with space to stop and browse or talk with people. The downside was that many artists had sold out of items by then.

Second, there’s a growing trend for young creators to bring prints and pins and stickers… but not sequential work. I know comics are hard, and making and selling a pretty piece of art is a lot easier, but that’s not what I’m interested in seeing. Based on the audience, I may not be in the majority.



One comment

  • Yup, MoCCA Fest needs a much bigger space. I only made it out on sunday and it was still too crowded, aisles were impossible to navigate and the artists behind the tables look trapped and miserable – I’m not a claustrophobic person but after half an hour I was looking for the exit. If the organizers could get some of the more moneyed exhibitors (Wacom, universities, etc) to foot the bill for a larger venue with an on-site panel room but maintain the current number and pedigree of exhibitor tables, MoCCA Fest would be PERFECT.

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