Naked honesty: I’m too wiped out from this weekend’s MoCCA Festival to write much about it.
It was a blast.
But here are the winners of the inaugural MoCCA Awards of Excellence, as chosen by judges Karen Berger, Gary Groth, Nora Krug, David Mazzucchelli, and Paul Pope.
I had to jot them down and maybe the PR with all spellings will have gone out by now but as I wrote them down they are:
Kenan Rubenstein for Last Train to Old Town.
The winners are all incredibly accomplished, most newish on the scene, although Benton is returning after a decade long break from comics.
I’ll have a more detailed write-up on the show later but for now suffice to say that it was impeccably run, everyone was smiling, and all of the logistical problems that plagued old shows seem to have been cleared up by the new showrunners at the Society of Illustrators. If you want to read more about it, Johanna Draper Carlson called it “the best ever MoCCA Fest,” and Daryl Ayo Braithwaite was similarly complimentary — his posts lists all the improvements made this year like booth backdrops, tablecloths, signage and and on-site cafe. but this gets to the heart of it:
Comics is a hard business and even harder when the infrastructure is not supportive of the practical needs of the people in this business. 2013′s MoCCA Art Festival felt like a success because it sought to improve the morale of the community that uses the festival. I hope that the Society of Illustrators continues to move the MoCCA Art Festival in the direction that they’ve steered it.
The Armory is a huge, old building full of guns and mold. It is not climate controlled and can be too hot or too cold; it’s not a naturally hospitable environment. However this year’s show used signage and amenities to make it an attractive place that you wanted to hang out in. Even better, the art display in the back of the room—with treasures taken from both SOI and MoCCA holdings and including Roy Crane, Milton Caniff, Jillian Tamaki, Marie Severin, Peter Kuper and many others—was worth the price of admission by itself and set the scene for a show of srtists and creators. My only regret is that the art show wasn’t better publicized. There were some small glitches like this, but no one was complaining this time out, and many who remained skeptical right up until show time were won over by the tremendous efforts that went into this year’s event.
It’s too soon to say if the show will return to the Armory next year. While everyone seemed to feel the show was back on the right track, no one was quite sure what to do next to improve it even further. Some spoke of a new venue; others of a juried show. I’m glad I’m not in charge of figuring out which idea to prioritize; however I feel pretty certain that after resting up the SOI crew, led by Anelle Miller and the two Kates, and the steering committee, will have some solid ideas and the ability and resources to pursue them.
Social note: the closing night party co-hosted by comiXology Submit and The Beat was a smash, if we do say so, with dozens of folks enjoying a free pint courtesy of comiXology, and talking and jamming on comics late into a school night. Comics people are the best people yet again.
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.