MoCCA: The Pop Rocks of Eye Candy

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday April 26, 2012


Arriving at the Lexington Avenue Armory this weekend is the 10th edition of the MoCCA Fest—presented by New York City’s own Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art. And this year the prestigious Klein Award (named for MoCCA founder Lawrence Klein) will go to Gary Panter at a presentation on Saturday afternoon.

For anyone in the dark about what could be New York’s loudest and most vibrant art show of the year, it’s probably easier to say what the MoCCA Fest is not. It’s not like ComiCon because in its heart and soul, the founders’ mission is to preserve and promote the art of comics and cartoon art. Commerce, of course, is important but this fest is not about Hollywood and merch, although among the panels are several that offer insider tips on getting ahead in the business.

Sure, you’ll find plenty of heavy metal, monster-inspired comics art, and trade publishers including Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, Pantheon, and Powerhouse, but also you’ll find indies with zines of all dimensions; students and faculty from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT, as well as tables representing The New School Parsons, the School of Visual Arts, and even the High School of Art and Design. And there are cartoonists from all over, with a spotlight this year on Nordic artists.

When I emailed Peter Kuper, longtime Spy vs. Spy creator, about what draws him to the MoCCA Fest, he wrote, “I've been attending MoCCA from the beginning and it is always a refreshing alternative to the superhero slanted conventions. There is a tremendous variety of new work at MoCCA that demonstrates the broader possibilities of the art form. When people talk about ‘graphic novels,’ they are referring to the kind of books you will find at this festival.” Peter will be on a panel called “Memoir” at 2:15 Sunday) with Calvin Reid (moderator), Derf, Jennifer Hayden, and Mike Dawson, who will discuss filtering their own lives through sequential art. Peter will have new and recent books, including Drawn to New York (an eBook), Alice in Wonderlandand Oaxaca Journalalong with plenty of original art at table i1.

Some other panels of interest this year, which run continuously in the downstairs auditorium, are “Checklist for a New Comic: A Guide to Getting Started,”with Jessica Abel and Matt Madden; "Graphic Novels for Young Adults," with Betsy Bird of the New York Public Library with some of the brightest talents in one of comics' fastest growing demographics; "A Nordic Roundtable," with Fredrik Strömberg (SE), Peter Madsen (DK), Kaisa Leka (FI), Bendik Kaltenborn(NO) and Mattias Elftorp, some of the Nordic artists present at MoCCA this year; "To Run a Comic Shop," with Alex Cox (Rocket Ship), Tucker Stone (Bergen Street Comics), Thor Parker (Midtown Comics), Gabe Fowler (Desert Island), from some of the area's top comic stores discussing the trials and tribulations of running your own shop.

Paul Hoppe, one of the co-creators of the Rabid Rabbit zine series, will be at MoCCA again this year, but without his long-eared friend. He recently emailed, “I will indeed have a table at MoCCA, and will have a brand-new publication out. For me, this year is exciting, because it's the first time I'll have my own table (split with my colleague Anuj Shrestha) but without Rabid Rabbit. I'm looking forward to seeing how my own work holds up without the anthology.” Paul will have his children’s books Hat, The Woods, Behold, and prints, as well as the new issue of Journey Into Misery at table F18.

MoCCA Fest 2012, The Lexington Avenue Armory, Lexington Avenue between 25-26th Streets, NY, NY. Saturday, April 28-Sunday, April 29, 11am – 6 pm. Tickets $15/$24 at the door. Above; MoCCA 2010 seen by Scott Beale of Laughing Squid.