The programming for this year’s MoCCA Festival (April 5-6) just went up. Designed by Bill Kartalopoulos, it’s a masterclass in comics with participants from around the world. This is grad school level stuff and I can’t wait!
And neither can many others. For the first time, two of the panels, Art Spiegelman & Joost Swarte in conversation and Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse in conversation, will require advance tickets which you can register for free at the links above. I’m a little surprised the Fiona Staples Q&A wasn’t also a ticketed event — she’s the artist on the most popular comic in the is right now, and I can guarantee that you will need to get there EARLY to get in.
One of the panels I’m really looking forward to is Tad Suiter’s presentation on the Armory Show of 1913, one of the most momentous events in the history of art that took place right there. While the Lexington Armory has come in for a lot of shade over the years it has hosted MoCCA, it is a storied venue, and it’s nice to get some historical perspective.
Other panels include Carousel, a spotlight on Israeli comics, Chip Kidd and Françoise Mouly talking design, a spotlight on World War 3, a Q&A with Robert Williams, and more more more. Heck all of these panels are going to be crowded. The only problem is seeing everything and still having time to buy comics. LUCKILY, they will be taped and eventually uploaded to the SOI website.
Remember it’s only $5 a day to get to this year’s festival. You have no excuse!
R. Sikoryak Presents: CAROUSEL for KIDS!
Acclaimed cartoonist R. Sikoryak brings a special KIDS’ edition of CAROUSEL, his long-running series of live comics readings and other projected pictures, to the MoCCA stage. FeaturingJames Kochalka (Johnny Boo, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza), Trade Loeffler (Zig and Wikki, Zip and Li’l Bit Funnies), Neil Numberman (Do NOT Build a Frankenstein! Joey Fly: Private Eye), Melissa Mendes (Freddy Stories, Lou), and Colleen AF Venable (Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye) and more! Stories, gags, audience participation, and more, for kids of all ages.
The Katzenjammer Kids go to the Armory Show: Cartoonists and Modern Art, 1913
The 1913 Armory Show was a watershed event—the first exposure for many Americans to the new European modernist avant-garde. While the press focused on European art in the exhibit, American artists made up the majority of the show, and a fascinating subset of these were early newspaper comic strip cartoonists. The cartoonists represented at the Exhibition included George Luks, Rudolph Dirks, Denys Wortman, and several others. Tad Suiter (George Mason University) will reveal this little-examined history and explore how these artists used their work as a way of gaining cultural capital.
Comics and Protests Movements
Protest movements arise from Protest movements arise from communities marginalized by political institutions and mainstream media. Artwork has often given voice to underrepresented points of view, and can document grassroots social action overlooked by authorized histories. Comics artists Christopher Cardinale (Which Side Are You On?), Mike Dawson (Angie Bongiolatti), Seth Tobocman (War in the Neighborhood), and Sophie Yanow (War of Streets and Houses) have all represented and documented contemporary and historical protest movements in their comics. They will discuss the issues at stake with writer and documentary filmmaker Annie Nocenti.
Robert Williams Q+A
Robert Williams has enjoyed a diverse and profoundly influential career expressing a singular artistic vision. Emerging from the West Coast hot rod scene (where he produced graphics for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth), Williams produced some of the finest underground comix of his era in the pages of Zap. Williams proceeded to produce a body of intense, phantasmagorical paintings and jumpstarted the so-called “lowbrow” art movement, founding the influentialJuxtapozMagazine in 1994. He will discuss his career in comics and fine art with critic and curator Carlo McCormick (Paper Magazine).
Drinking Ink: Art Spiegelman and Joost Swarte in Conversation
Art Spiegelman and Joost Swarte have a long association, dating back to the earliest days of Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly’s RAW Magazine, to which Swarte was a frequent contributor. Both artists have distinguished themselves with artwork both witty and profound, both have produced expressive comics and striking single images, and both have worked in multiple media including architecture and performance. Together, the pair will discuss their careers, their shared histories, comics and more in a conversation moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos. (90 minutes)
* This event is free attend but due to limited space tickets must be reserved beforehand.Click here to reserve tickets.
2:00 How Comics Are Queer
As long as there have been comics there have been queer cartoonists. Comics that authentically engaged queer experience in America emerged in the radical underground comix milieu of the 1960s and ’70s, fueled by the social liberation movements of the era. Comics’ status in American culture echoes queer experience: once marginalized, now accepted, but still contested—while some of the most acclaimed comics of the day speak to and from queer experience. Howard Cruse, Edie Fake, Justin Hall and L. Nichols will consider the historical and contemporary intersections of queer experience and comics with moderator Margaret Galvan (The Graduate Center, City University of New York).
Drew Friedman Presents Old Jewish Comedians
Drew Friedman is an iconic cartoonist and illustrator whose intensely rendered, caricatural work first gained notice in the pages of publications including RAW and Spy, and whose illustrations regularly appear on the front page of the New York Observer. His upcoming book,Heroes of the Comics, will feature portraits of cartooning legends. Currently the subject of an exhibit at the Society of Illustrators, Friedman will discuss his Old Jewish Comedians series of books in this special presentation, revealing the concept and process behind these books, as well as their reception among the “Old Jewish Comedians” themselves.
Comics and Design
As traditional media move into a digital space, the future of publishing remains unpredictable. Rapidly changing realities increasingly demand that books published on paper exhibit aesthetic physical qualities to justify their status as objects. Balancing aesthetic quality with accessibility, well-designed graphic novels may model the future of print. From RAW Magazine to TOON Books, Françoise Mouly has pioneered the presentation of comics as beautiful objects. Iconic graphic designer Chip Kidd helped usher in the current graphic novel era, editing and designing landmark graphic novels at Pantheon Books. Together, they will discuss the responsibilities and pleasures of designing comics with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.
Fiona Staples Q+A
In a few short years, Canadian comics artist Fiona Staples has gained acknowledgement as one of the most distinctive stylists and storytellers in her field. Her work as artist and co-creator of the phenomenally successful comic book series Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan, has won multiple awards, high praise, and an enormous following. Staples will discuss her art and process with Nathan Fox (cover artist for FBP and chair of SVA’s MFA in Visual Narrative program).
Form, Materials and Expression
Over the last several years, comics have experienced a broadening of aesthetic approaches beyond the conventions that derived from prior craft traditions and technical constraints. Increasingly, comics are produced using a wide range of materials including new digital media, while digital technology has promoted the broad dissemination of handmade work that might be otherwise difficult to reproduce. Sam Alden, Frederic Coché, and Michael DeForge will discuss how their preferred art media interact with comics form to serve their individual expressions in a conversation moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.
Comics, Illustration and the Conceptual Image
What does it mean to express an abstract idea in a concrete drawing? What is the difference between an idea that can be expressed in a single image and one that requires sequential exposition? Internationally acclaimed artists Marion Fayolle (In Pieces), Joost Swarte (Is That All There Is?), and Brecht Vandenbroucke (White Cube), work in both comics and illustration, addressing subtle emotional and intellectual concepts in each form. They will consider these questions and more in conversation with New York Times Art Director Alexandra Zsigmond.
What Kids Learn From Making Comics
Comics have increasingly entered curricula as subjects of study, and evidence shows that comics can be a powerful tool in helping early readers acquire literacy. But what lessons do students learn from actually making comics? How does making comics supplement and enhance traditional education? Beth Brooks from The Comic Book Project will discuss that organization’s comics workshops with children. Tracy Fedonchik and Roxanne Feldman will share their experience working with grade school students to adapt fiction into comics at the Dalton School. Josh Bayer, who has taught adults and children at institutions including the 92nd Street Y will discuss his teaching and lead the conversation.
Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse in Conversation
Alison Bechdel is the acclaimed author of the comics memoirs Fun Home and Are You My Mother? Prior to these, she gained a devoted audience for her biweekly comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, published in alternative newspapers between 1983 and 2009. Bechdel was inspired to write about queer life by Gay Comix, edited by Howard Cruse between 1980 and 1983. Cruse began publishing in the underground comix scene in the 1970s and went on to draw the comics series Wendel for The Advocate through the ’80s. In 1995 he published his award-winning graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby. We are delighted to present a very special conversation between these two influential artists, moderated by Hillary Chute (Graphic Women). (90 minutes)
* This event is free to attend but due to limited space tickets must be reserved beforehand. Click here to reserve tickets.
World War 3 Illustrated: From 1979 to Now
Join World War 3 illustrated to celebrate their 35th anniversary of publication and the release of a retrospective collection premiering at MoCCA. Launched in 1979 by Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, World War 3 Illustrated is a radical, collectively-organized magazine of comics, text and graphics. WW3 has consistently engaged issues of the day and challenged political, social and economic hierarchies and the regimes that enforce them. Kuper, Tobocman, and WW3 co-editors Sandy Jimenez, Sabrina Jones, and Kevin Pyle will discuss the past, present and future of the longest running political comic in history in a conversation moderated by Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly).
Live Drawing: Comics in Concert
Finnish cartoonist Ville Ranta and musicians Niko Kumpuvaara (accordion) and Aleksi Ranta (guitar) bring their internationally successful “Comics in Concert” musical live drawing event to MoCCA. Ranta will be joined by North American cartoonists Scott Campbell, Miriam Katin, andDanica Novgorodoff,who will all create new, projected drawings to festive, live musical accompaniment before your very eyes.
Israeli Comics Today
Israel has a small but burgeoning comics culture, which has gained international notice through the works of the Actus Tragicus group and the break-out success of cartoonist Rutu Modan. Today, the Israeli Cartoon Museum in Holon exhibits work by Israeli and international artists, and a growing number of artists and publishers are working to cultivate the Israeli comics industry. Nimrod Reshef, cartoonist and spokesman for the Israeli Cartoonists Association, will discuss his work publishing comics for children and older readers in Israel, joined in conversation by Keren Katz and Alina Gorban, Israeli artists currently living and working in the US. Moderated by Karen Green (Graphic Novels Librarian, Columbia University).
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.