MoCCA Recap: Day One – Heat, Buzz, Star Wars and Dinosaur Comics
With one day down, I still feel pretty good about declaring MoCCA Arts Festival my favorite comics event thus far this season.
Sure, it doesn’t have the numbers or names of New York Comic Con or San Diego’s Comic-Con International, but it also doesn’t have 100,000 people vying for seats in 1,000-chair auditoriums and competing, mind-numbingly overpowered loudpseakers at every other booth. What it does have, however, is a great opportunity to actually meet, greet and have an honest-to-goodness conversation with professionals at every level of the industry.
So how did the first day go?
Well, I arrived a few hours after the doors opened to the show — just about the time the weather outside turned from "oppressive" to "unbearable," but before the transition to "stay the hell inside at all costs" occurred. After bumping into Fleen.com’s Gary Tyrrell, the main mustache himself took me on a whirlwind tour of the show, culminating with my purchase of Harvest Is When I Need You The Most, the Star Wars fanbook featuring the work of eight cartoonists paying homage to the film franchise. The Harvest crew had only brought 50 with them to the show, and I believe I purchased one of the last dozen-or-so remaining.
By the way, if you ever find yourself at a convention and in need of someone who knows the layout of a show floor and can perform CPR if necessary, find Gary. Seriously, folks, he was like the MoCCA equivalent of a Sherpa guide.
The convention building itself was an interesting contrast of conditions. The first floor, where the bulk of the booths were located, remained a comfortable browsing temperature. The 7th Floor, however, was pretty steamy — much to the detriment of attendees and the creators who were stationed there. It wasn’t unbearable, but it definitely encouraged as short a stay as possible from temperature wimps like myself. The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, who I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with (along with a great bottle of Corsendonk Brown) that day is reporting that MoCCA organizers are bringing in some fans to deal with the problem today, as temperatures are expected to climb even higher. I’ll let you know how it goes.
The 1st Floor room housing the Dumbrella and Dayfree Press webcomic collectives, as well as Wondermark creator David Malki and xkcd‘s Randall Munroe, was one of the more consistently packed areas of the show floor. This seemed especially interesting to me, given the number of times I walked by the booths of well-know print creators such as Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders) without finding much of a line (if any at all).
While the layout of the space surrounding the webcomic crew might have played a small role in the crowded atmosphere, I can vouch for the width of the aisles, as they provided ample room to avoid the rubberbands aimed my way by Goats.com creator Jon Rosenberg. As Questionable Content creator Jeph Jacques pointed out via Twitter, the arrival of Munroe after being delayed several hours sparked a mad rush around the xkcd creator’s table that remained throughout the day.
On a side note, during the hours leading up to Munroe’s arrival, potential reasons for the delay were chronicled xkcd-style on sketches at his table. At one point, a sketch showed a stick figure of Munroe traveling via skateboard to the show, letting attendees know he was delayed. Later on, a more elaborate stick-figure sketch theorized that Munroe had either been kidnapped or returned to his home planet — but to expect him at the show in the near future. I’m fairly certain pictures of these sketches will show up on Fleen, so keep an eye out for them.
I also managed to spend some time with Dumbrella Hosting guru Phillip Karlsson, and our quick introduction turned into the sort of conversation about "life, webcomics and everything" that I wish I had recorded for posting here. Simply put, he’s good people.
As far as the general buzz at the show, most everyone I spoke with mentioned the debut of Alex Robinson’s Too Cool To Be Forgotten as the must-have purchase of the weekend. (On a side note, ComicMix reviewer Andrew Wheeler posted this early review of Too Cool To Be Forgotten last month.) There seemed to be a lot of sad faces when I showed off my copy of Harvest, too — as the limited number of issues for sale at MoCCA forced a lot of fans to wait for the online orders next week.
As far as announcements go, Tyrrell and I happened upon some news regarding the next collection of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics while chatting with the popular creator about life north of the U.S. border. According to North, the title and numbering process for the project are going to follow some sort of arcane formula that, when recited a specific way, will open a door to another dimension. Okay, so that last bit isn’t an entirely accurate quote, but North did provide us with a complex description of the thinking behind the next collection’s numbering system that I understood for approximately 20 seconds before the system (and my notes about it) ceased to make any sense whatsoever. I blame the heat. However, I do know that the next collection of Dinosaur Comics should be scheduled for release within the a year, but the much more physics-savvy Tyrrell should have all the details posted on Fleen soon.
Also on the webcomics front, Exploding Dog‘s Sam Brown alerted me to the availability of iPod skins and other tech dressing featuring his familiar "red robot" art. He had a few of them on display, but you can also buy them online via Music Skins. He gets a cut of the purchase, so go ahead and pick one up.
On the print side, I had a brief chat with the Comic Foundry crew, who were stationed in the 7th Floor sauna. Keep an eye out for the upcoming third issue of the magazine, featuring G4TV’s Blair Butler onthe cover. (You can see a preliminary version of the cover similar to the one they had on display at MoCCA here.)
As far as the first day’s purchase report goes, I kept it light on Day One, with the aforementioned Harvest Is When I Need You The Most and a pair of Red Robot socks from the Diesel Sweeties collection. Today, I plan to pick up a copy of Too Cool To Be Forgotten, one of Jeffrey Rowland’s limited-edition MoCCA ’08 prints and possibly a piece or two of original art.
Finally, I almost forgot to mention my random encounter with ComicMix contributor Vinnie Bartilucci on the 7th Floor. He was carrying a pile of stuff, but the sweaty conditions on that floor made it nearly impossible for either of us to carry on a conversation for very long — so here’s hoping he shares his own purchase report here. I’d love to know what you bought, Vinnie! (Oh, and if you haven’t read his recent ComicMix Six list of Celebrity Team-Ups in Comics, go ahead and do so. It’s a winner.)
Now it’s back to Manhattan for Day Two of MoCCA. Keep an eye on ComicMix today for Martha Thomases’ report on last night’s Friends of Lulu Awards, as well as my Day Two recap tomorrow.