Monday, June 12, 2006

MoCCA Con Splendiferous 2006 ––Troll Two Weekend



I am finally back home in Philly after a whirl-wind week and weekend up in NYC at the 2006 MoCCA con. last week was a rough week as I was finishing up inking Ringo's pencils on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man #10, our last issue as a team on the book. I was pulling heavy 18 hour days at the end on the board, slinging away ink on the web-slinger's pages and also inking a preview page for an Elvira story for Claypool and trying to get done on my 5 page story for the Philly cartoonist Society. I posted the last Spidey page on the Marvel server about noon on Friday and then dropped the pups off at the vet and got the jeep washed, gassed and cleaned for the ride up to NYC.



By the time I pulled out of Philly a line of severe thunderstorms had blown up and that made the already busy Friday afternoon traffic a nightmare. I had to snake into Philly, grab Claire and head out to the turnpike through stop and go traffic which turned into a long crawl with some of the dumbest drivers on the planet...ugh!

Echo read La Perdida by Jessica Able while we drove through the rain.



But by the time we made it to New Jersey and pulled over for some Starbucks at a rest stop, the sun was out. That gave me a good feeling about the show and the coming weekend...and I'll admit, not grinding away on pages felt good too. I felt like a pimp, riding up with a carload of girls.



We all got up late Saturday because Friday Night there was a Troll 2 marathon!

Why a marathon you ask? Because 5 minutes worth of watching this movie feels like a marathon!
Grandpa SEEETTTH!
The gals used every reflective surface in Scott and Ryan's apt for make-up and polish'n up before we headed out...

We all got up pretty late and headed down to the local diner to get some breakfast before heading in.

Scott and Ryan live in Queens so that meant a two train connection to get to the con. It was a brisk and windy day, temp in the mid to low 60's, perfect if you ask me...

I wonder if any of these folks read comics?



The MoCCA show is held in the beautiful PUCK Building.

I've received a lot of great feedback on my last blogging about the Philly Wizard con, and again my reporting on the MoCCA con isn't from the perspective of a fanboy, but as a working artist in the field, the business of comics. Because of my perspective on the other side of the table, I hope this points out some relevant facts and issues that face us artists in the industry, be it as a mainstream artist, indy artist or those who straddle both the new and old territories. One thing is very clear to me, the industry is changing, the old hobby is beyond stagnant and I see a fracturing going on dividing the babyman driven direct market, the internet-future market and the graphic novel market.


Families with kids were seen strolling through...

The energy and love that was so lacking in Philly at the Wizard show was there in spades at MoCCA. There is a palpable love for the ART of comics at this show, and ART that has a broader scope than super-jock action. Don't get me wrong, I love good superhero comics, I love to look at them as well as make them, but that end of the business is beyond stale, aging and more than predictable for the most part. The MoCCA end is much more youthful and much more female!

the show was packed to the gills...

A side-by-side snapshot of these shows quickly points out a huge difference in the demos happening. The typical Wizard type customer and fan which tends to me overwhelmingly male, and aging with myopic taste in material. The MoCCA type customer is to my eye almost 50/50 female and under 30, Though there are some older folks too. The fact that you have a lot more women means you have a much broader appeal and a lot more interesting material. Now I will not say everything at MoCCA is fantastic. Nope, there is a fair share of poorly drawn crap! Just because you are telling a story about vegetables or an auto-bio type thing doesn't mean you are judged by a lesser standard of craft. NOPE! There are many artist there who need a lot of basic drawing lessons, anatomy, perspective, COMPOSITION and STORYTELLING etc. Shoegazer comics don't get a buy anymore than Batman comics do. To convibnce the reader work must be consistannt...have a basic level of quality. Craft is king no matter what the subject and the "homegrown brew" aspect of a lot of the work won't phase the teacher/art cop in me. I think the level of work was generally higher than last years SPX, but there was 30% maybe that was just pretty lame.



But I got a vibe of love of comics that I don't get at the babyman shows. No Jim Wasshisface, no Clerks Dudewasshisface, no babymen dragging coolers fulla' comics to sign behind them...nope. It's more of an author's medium here, and in a way MoCCA is more in touch with comic book's roots, the comic strip, than with the current direct market. Here funny isn't bad or looked down on, here humor can play right up at the top. I don't feel these readers would feel ashamed to be seen reading a comic they'd buy in public like some babyman might feel reading some Aspen jerk-fantasy book.

The Frineds of LuLu booth

The Drawn and Quarterly booth.

Clearly it is different to sit behind a table promoting your new graphic novel, like Scott Pilgrim than to sit promoting a new issue of Spider-man. I think the fans reaction to you is different and also the fans desire to see a flexibilty in what comics can be besides male power fantasy. This feels like a more diverse party than any other con I've been to in the US, better than SPX because I think the professional standard is higher. This is the show of the Graphic Novel, not just the trade. It was great to hear from Chris Pitzer how well Sandra Hopes graphic novels are doing. I just finished reading La Perdidad by Jessica Able the day before we left for the show, I was hoping to meet her at the show but missed her. Books of this quality will continue to raise the bar for both men and women and I hope expose the wealth of the medium beyond the current perception by many of what comic stories can be about.


Evan Dorkin talks with fans...

The Bumperboy booth...

I saw many artist drawing away, locked in the "art trance' like Laura Wilson....

The Top Shelf booth was crowded...

Black Hole artist Charles Burns hovers behind the Fantagraphics booth...


The Cartoon Studies school was center stage as well. It will be interesting to see how this school progresses and I plan on covering them in DRAW! soon.

I saw many famailar faces and as always. a lot of new faces. the show was packed by the time our group got there Saturday, around 3. Everywhere seemed packed, each of the three main halls was jammed to the gills but the airconditioning coupled with cooler weather this year kept the sauna and garlic smell away like last year. I heard many people were sold out of material on Saturday. Brian Lee O'Malley said he was out of all of his stock on Saturday...clearly a sign that this show has room to grow where i feel the Wizard show has already peaked and is in decline.

Brian Lee O'Malley and his wife Hope Larsen were so busy they were out of focus like the Flash, vibrating with success....

I think this show could continue to grow for a while in both size and length. Now I almost never attend any of the panels at any show because as a pro...well they seem kinda' boring, but I think some panels of craft, the drawing and storytelling aspect could do well here, maybe almost what PROCON was like 15 years ago. A day of a sort of symposium on the craft aspect, I think this stuff is needed, and not just the usual old hat guys talking about stuff, but real-deal meat and potatoes stuff, like the stuff I teach my kids. Comics has always been a hand-me-down business. craft passed mostly from pro to assistant in the old days, and now we have whole generations of artists working on all kinds of books, but they all have to use the language of comics well to be successful, and that means learning craft, what better place for this than a museum about comic art?

The Artist's With Problems booth seemed stress free...

The always amiable and fellow Detroiter Matt Fleazell

The Meat Haus booth...

Pals Ivan Brandon and Andy McDonald who do NY^YC Mech were there, we just hung out in Philly a week ago...

I came with 3 women who all were buying books, unlike Philly, where Echo bought almost nothing, at MoCCA she came back several times to ask for more $$ to buy something. My Assistant Bonaia who's first comic Rudolfo made it's debut at the show also bought tons of comics. I even bought some Condorito Spanish comics on the way over at the newsstand in the Queens EL stop.

The time shopping went fast, I don't think I bought quite as much here this year as last, though I did make a bee line for the Bries booth and picked up three books by Hanco Kolk called Meccano. I stopped by meat haus and bought stuff, Artist with Problems and bought a few things but I looked more than bought more due to the time factor. I wasn't going to do the show Sunday.

It's always great to talk with a buy stuff from Chris Pitzer, he is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet and publishes some really great comics with Ad House.

The Venture Bros. Chris McCulloch...

I ran into Chris McCulloch the creator of Venture Bros and yakked for a while as well as Nick Bertozzi who I've know since his humble days as a comic store clerk in Havertown PA.

Echo Poses with Nick. Nick claims I told him years ago that "He would never draw Superman." And so far I have been right, and his career is better for it.

There was some kind of radio show going on, I don't know if it was live or taped to be played later...

You could buy one of these swell posters to help support the MoCCA Museum.

The gang took a break for refreshments and sketching...We met up with Thomas one of my former DCAD students who also came up for the show...

Dennis Kitchen and Charles Brownstien...

the Carton Allies set-up...

Even Gary Groth seemed to be happy...

Chip Zadarsky, Ramon Perez and Cameron Stewart...

Unlike Philly we all walked away feeling pumped up about comics...and about finding something g to eat. I heard about this party or that party but i had no invites and feel pretty out of the loop in this crowd to some degree. I think unlike most cons who have a specific show hotel where people gather for after show smoozing MoCCA seems to have many, many parties and secret gatherings.




The lovely Trish Mulvihill and Greg Thompson belly up fer some mexican eats.

Our long shadows searched for food in Soho

Scott lead the way...as we walked and walked...hunger burning as bright as the setting sun...

We trapesed the streets of Soho in search of eats...




But by Sunday the girls started fighting again over who was stronger, Hulk or Thor.


I don't think the arguement was settled though...

After our bellies were fulla' Mexican food and margaritas we road back to Queens

YEEAAAHHHH!!!!!!

I also saw lots of people drawing and sketching, again many, many women cartoonist and I feel this is very cool. I know my girlfriend Echo as well as Bonaia found this very inspirational. I wish I wasn't as tired as I was because I think I could have done even more coverage. My prediction is this show will continue to rise while the other new NYC show will as well. maybe the age of the tired old Wizard fanboy show has come and gone, and I think maybe that is just as well. For me that type of show is very anti-craft, it's more about the fetish of collecting and the sometimes unhealthy permutations it causes. I have never been to Angouleme but I imagine MoCCA is a small version of what those European cons might be like.

The mens roon sprouted some unusual graphitti...and if you are wondering what i was doing with a camera in the men's room...use your imagination.


The show began to thin out...

And everyone had that happy but spent look of meeting a bagillion people...

I will be back next year and I will exhibit and have some comics to sell besides Draw!. one of the things I am dissappointed about this year is that I didn't have time to self-publish the comics I hoped to do so I could exhibit at this show...but next year I will! Idealy I would like to see more of a merging of the best of all worlds, mainstream and alternative as I think both have a lot to offer the other and in the end offer the reader, the lover of comics. I think the Wizard style show can improve not only it's crowd but it's bottom line by embracing more of the MoCCA crowd and base. Night Fisher meet Hellboy. To me there are only two kinds of comics, good and bad. I think if we can combine and broaden the retailer's taste we can broaden and attract the fan base and raise the hobby/business. By marketing to the narrowing, hardenning artery of the direct market babyman you exclude most of the females I see at Mocca I bet. And what smart businessman wants to do that?

I give this show a 4.5 out of 5.

7 comments:

ZONE said...

Now THAT was a CON REPORT!

best,

Craig Zablo
http://stallonezone.com/czgallery1.htm

thom said...

Great reporting Mike!

Mike M said...

Thanks guys, it was a fun show.

UrbanBarbarian said...

Man, I love these entries! Feels like I was almost there!

Chip Zdarsky said...

Nice job, Mike.
Also, it was great to meet you!
-chip!

Meesimo said...

Great and exhaustive con report. Excellent for us who couldn't make it to the show. Thanks, man-
Meesimo

Mike M said...

Chip, it was greaat to meet you as well. i like that about this show, you never know who you will meet, and it's not over bearing like Sandy Egoes.

Meesimo, You should really try and make the show next year, it's a lot of fun and it's in the heart of NYC, another plus.

best, MM