Me, Come MoCCA – by Martha Thomases
I like New York in June. How about you?
There’s all the hippie, flower-child kinds of reasons. The days are warm; the nights are cool. The leaves provide dense shade, like stained glass windows from a Tiffany dream. The humidity is low, so the garbage isn’t baking on the sidewalks. Nature is reborn. It feels good to have a body.
There are also the 21st Century Geek Squad reasons. Free music in the parks. The summer movie season is at full throttle. The big cross-over events in comics are up and running, and, even when I don’t like them, they make the comic shops fun to be in on Wednesdays (fanboy fight!). Network TV is all reruns, but the cable networks bring in new stuff. The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a show on superhero costumes.
Best of all, there’s MoCCA.
More precisely, the Art Festival sponsored by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. Usually held on the last weekend in June, this year, instead, it’s being held on the first. Today and tomorrow.
Now, if you’re a regular reader of these columns, you may have noticed that my tastes run to the pop. I like my comics fantastic. True, I also enjoy believable characterizations and witty dialogue, but mostly, I look to comics for escapism. Any coincidental addition of artistic merit to my entertainment is a bonus.
MoCCA is a comics convention with very few publishers represented. You may find Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, NBM and Vertigo, possibly Houghten Miflin, but not many more. Most of the tables are occupied by people who have written and drawn their own comics – maybe a few issues, and maybe just one. Very few of these books feature women with gargantuan breasts, or tentacles, or refrigerators. Quite a few of the people making these comics are women.
And they aren’t just making comics. There are buttons and pins, trading cards, posters. Last year, a lot of tables had knitted or crocheted items – not hats or sweaters, but little monsters or (in one case) genitals.
MoCCA takes place at the Puck Building, one of my favorite places in the city. Known to most of the country as the site of Grace’s interior design business in Will & Grace, but to media junkies like myself, it is known not only as the original home of Puck magazine (hence the name) but also Spy, the coolest magazine I ever wrote for (just a bit) back when I was cool. I once went to a party there where guests could pose with a cardboard figure of Donald Trump, whom Spy refered to as a “short-fingered vulgarian."
When MoCCA happens on the last weekend of June it conflicts with Gay Pride weekend, another of my favorite things to do in New York. There’s a parade on that Sunday with cute boys, marching proudly with no shirts on. Sometimes, there’s a jumble of people on Houston Street combining those leaving the Puck Building and those downtown for the parade.
This year, unfortunately, I won’t be in the city for Gay Pride because we’ll be at Wizard World. I wonder if Chicago has as many cute guys as New York. And I wonder, if they were to fight, who would win?
Martha Thomases, ComicMix’ Media Goddess, wonders if that’s a Legion of Super-Heroes story waiting to happen.