The good news is that the 2015 MoCCA Festival moved to a new venue—Center 548 in the heart of Chelsea’s gallery district—and it was ideal! Windows, flattering white walls, three floors of comicksy goodness, tons of foot traffic, and a rooftop lounge where you could sit in the sunlight and look out over the Hudson to the far lands of Jersey. And the panels held at the Highline Hotel wee a hop skip and jump away. It was smooth sailing!
The bad news is that MoCCA will never be there again. (h/t Daryl Ayo) The building—once the home of the prestigious Dia Arts Center—has been sold and will be converted to condos, like everything else in New York. When all these people move into these condos will there be anything fun left to do in NYC except shop at the Stella McCartney store? I sure hope so.
I’ll have a more detailed report on the show for Publishers Weekly, but here’s a picture run down of the week.
One quick note: while today’s multi-faceted comics publishing world doesn’t really lend itself to a “book of the show” Jillian Tamaki’s “SexCoven” in Frontier #7 was definitely the book of the show. It sold out on Saturday but you can order your copy here.
My MoCCA Week kicked off on Thursday with a VIP party for Aline Kiminsky-Crumb with a performance by Eden and John’s East River String Band with special guest R. Crumb sitting in. But first I surveyed the Alt.Weekly cartoonists show downstairs which is amazing. This 30-year old Life in Hell strip by Matt Groening is as true today as it was then. The show is up until May 2 — see it!
It was a lively hoe down. Crumb plays with verve. And I can scratch that off my bucket list.
The hallway to the restroom is an exhibit of original art from the LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM anthology. Art by Farel Dalrymple, Bill Sienkiewicz and more. I love this page from Carla Speed McNeill for obvious reasons.
On Friday night I moderated a panel consisting of Daryl Cunningham, Penelope Bagieu, Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio Garcia Sanchez, shown above. It was a rather unattended event, sadly, but the panelists were great. Here Sanchez shows us someof his experimental comics which use space and storytelling in very unusual and beautiful ways. He teaches cartooning in France and I hope to have more with him in a few weeks. That’s Bagieu on the upper left, and she’s a pistol.
After the panel, I trained over to the Productive for Drink & Draw Like a Lady. Every year there are more ladies! Seriously the place was jammed, and I saw a lot of names on tags that I knew from Tumblr and Twitter. This is the NOISIEST party I attend every year.
Saturday morning I got into a cab with a driver who saw a bit of crosstown traffic and decided at Fifth Avenue that he wasn’t going to take me any further. “It’s a beautiful day! You’ll enjoy the walk!” he urged. For this I had to pay him $5. I got to the Highline Hotel—a former seminary which could easily stand in for Hogwarts—just in time to see Bill K. interviewing Scott McCloud. I know other people have better pictures of this, but it’s my photo essay! With these two smart people, the panel breezed by.
— calreid (@calreid) April 11, 2015
I love all the details that the SOI staff puts into making MoCCA run smoothly, like this signage on 10th Avenue directing you to the venue.
Inside I made a beeline to say hi to Seth Kushner here with his heroic wife Terra. Kushner fell ill after last year’s MoCCA and he’s still recovery from the leukemia that nearly took his life, but he’s leukemia free. It was wonderful to see him, and pick up his new comic, and I think his being there was the highlight of the show for a lot of people.
Band photo with Dean Haspiel and Chris Miskiewicz
A selection of books from Atlantic Press a UK based imprint that publishes experimental and student comics. The book in the foreground, Beyond the Wire by Alys Jones was my find of the show—using hand cut holes in the pages to show the claustrophobic and deadly world of the trenches of WWI.
Steve Vrattos at the Fanfare/Ponent Mon table has a ton if imports from Knockabout and other UK publishers. While I was chatting with him, he helped someone pick up their first book by Jiro Taniguchi, so job done.
I ran into Matt Loux and Abby Denson, one of my favorite comics couples, coming out of the elevator.
Oh yeah the elevator. It’s moot now, since the 548 Center is going bye bye, but getting up and down the floors was the one thing that might have been a hindrance for the venue. The elevator held four people and took 15 minutes to make a trip. The stairs were super steep and narrow, and while they weren’t really dangerous, per se, let’s just say that if you had a little bit of vertigo, things become more challenging. But like I said, that’s all moot.
After you managed to get up four flights of stairs you were greeted with this view on the roof top.
Saturday night I went back to SOI for the Awards of Excellence presentation which were given this year to Greg Kletzel (above), Kris Mukai, Daniel Zender, Tyler Boss and Keren Katz.
Here’s Keren with her trophy. (Keren is so talented and also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, even in a business filled with nice people.)
This party had some free beer from Lagunitas and was so much fun. The patio was open, and after this long winter, just to be outside again was a joy.
On Sunday I tried to take pictures like I always do. Alice Meichi Li
Birdcage Bottom’s JT Yost
Hic and Hoc’s Matt Moses and Sam Henderson
And then I got distracted and stopping taking photos. As you can see it was a light, airy place. Too bad we’ll never be there again. Enjoy your $5 million condo that you visit once a year, oligarch.
Javier Cruz Winnik and Sara Wooley
Julia Gfrorer and Sean T. Collins. Later on we got a picture of Sean along with myself and Brigid Alverson, as shot by Johanna Draper Carlson for a Bloggers of the Aughts reunion.
At Conundrum, Kat Verhoeven, Andy Brown and Joe Ollman take their band photo. Verhoeven’s Towerkind is just out and I talked to her about it for the PW podcast this week.
The woman of the year, Jillian Tamaki.
This is the Highline Hotel. Inside it was decorated with manual typewriters and dark wood fixtures reminiscent of a century ago. When I leave New York, I want to come stay here when I visit, except rooms are $400 a night. Also you had to stand in line 20 minutes for a $4 cup of Intelligentsia coffee. They were out of cold brew and pastries by the time I got there. The barista told me they’d had an insanely busy weekend.
I checked out this panel with editors from various print and online magazines—the New York Times, Rookie magazine, Autostraddle and Tablet—and what they look for when hiring cartoonists. I took notes and will write it up in a bit.
SeflMadeHero publisher Emma Haley and Dutch artist Barbara Stok.
Ghetto Brothers, a true life tale of gang life in the South Bronx, was one of the lesser heralded books at the show, but I heard a lot about it on the floor. Here’s Benjy Melendez, subject of the story, and artist Julian Voloj. I think you’ll here more about this in the coming weeks.
Calvin Reid and I did the Buddyback!
Another view of that wonderful rooftop lounge as Brian Heater and Calvin confirm their world domination plans. Tears in the rain, baby
For those who could not binge watch Daredevil, there was a water tower.
The other Leigh of Top Shelf. I’m terrible with last names.
At the end of the day I got to ride down in the freight elevator which is bigger than my entire apartment. Sad face.
I left the show and walked over on the Highline with Marie Javins, Shannon Wheeler and Brian Heater. Here is their band photo.
And we walked off into the sunset. Seriously, comics, rooftops, Highline, sunsets…this was all so wonderful and I couldn’t ask for better people to reflect on the show with.
So yeah, MoCCA 2015 was pretty swell. I’m for Anelle Miller and the other folks at SOI will be able to wrangle a new venue for 2016, but I’ll always remember this one. It was a special time.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.