With the MoCCA 2023 weekend less than two weeks away, the festival has announced its programming that attendees can look forward to – and it seems like an interesting mix of spotlights on key creative guests and contemplating heady issues.

Featured guests at MoCCA 2023 include Barbara Brandon-Croft (Where I’m Coming From), Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil), Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer), Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own) and Noah Van Sciver (Joseph Smith and the Mormons). 

The key image for MoCCA 2023 was designed by award-winning illustrator Toma Vagner.

The PR:

“The Society of Illustrators is proud to announce a robust and distinguished programming schedule for the 2023 MoCCA Arts Festival, taking place April 1-2. Programming will take place at the SVA Flatiron Gallery, located at 133 West 21st Street, steps away from the Exhibitor Hall at Metropolitan Pavilion.

“Organized by MoCCA Programming Director Bill Kartalopoulos, this year’s programming focuses on tough discussions about topics that are greatly impacting the comics community today, including censorship, the representation of queer youth, Artificial Intelligence, and labor issues.”

It should be noted that attendance to programming at the SVA requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Masks are recommended but not a requirement, however.


The summary timetable:

Panel Descriptions:


SATURDAY, APRIL 1 [Room 1]: 1:00-2:00, Barbara Brandon-Croft Spotlight

“In 1991, Barbara Brandon-Croft became the first Black woman to write and draw a nationally syndicated daily comic strip with Where I’m Coming From, her strip about work, life, family, race, and women’s experiences, as narrated by a chorus of nine Black women characters. A selection of this work has been collected for the first time in a new hardcover edition by Drawn and Quarterly. In this special spotlight session, Brandon-Croft will discuss her life and career.”

SATURDAY, APRIL 1 [Room 2]: 1:00-2:00, Manga and More: Independent Comics in Asia

“Manga has had a strong and steady presence in American bookstores for more than twenty years now. The market is defined by mainstream blockbusters, which usually run for dozens of volumes and have often been adapted for feature film or series animation. However, some North American publishers are looking beyond mainstream manga culture to spotlight work from the independent comics scenes of many different Asian cultural traditions. Bill Kartalopoulos will discuss alternative Asian comics with artists A ee mi (Platonic Love, EMOLAND) and Akino Kondoh (Ax, New York de Kangaechu), and publishers Orion Martin (Paradise Systems) and Emuh Ruh (Glacier Bay Books).”

SATURDAY, APRIL 1 [Room 1]: 2:30-3:30, Maia Kobabe Spotlight

“Maia Kobabe’s comics memoir Gender Queer is the winner of the ALA’s Alex Award and a Stonewall Award honoree. Gender Queer was also the target of a lawsuit in the state of Virginia and was the most frequently challenged book of 2021. In this special spotlight session, Kobabe will discuss eir work and eir experiences responding to the censorship of eir work in conversation with comics critic and journalist Michele Kirichanskaya (Geeks OUT!).”

SATURDAY, APRIL 1 [Room 2]: 2:30-3:30, Drew Friedman: Maverix and Lunatix

“In Maverix and Lunatix: Icons of Underground Comix, illustrator and cartoonist Drew Friedman has turned his attention to those artists who produced transgressive, ground-breaking comics that emerged from the milieu of the American counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s. He will discuss this new series of affectionate, beautifully rendered portraits with one of his own subjects, Kim Deitch, in a conversation moderated by artist Glenn Head.”

SATURDAY, APRIL 1 [Room 1]: 4:00-5:00, Women in Animation Showcase

“Women in Animation is a global organization that advocates for underrepresented gender identities in the animation industry. With chapters around the world, WIA maintains a talent database, awards scholarships, and gives the annual WIA Diversity Awards. In this special event, New York City WIA chapter Co-Lead Ashley Gerst and several of her peers will discuss the WIA’s activities and screen animated shorts by members.”

SATURDAY, APRIL 1 [Room 2]: 4:00-5:00, Drawing the Shadow of the Past: Miriam Katin & Nora Krug in Conversation

“Born in Hungary during World War II, as a small child Miriam Katin escaped the Holocaust with her mother. She documented that story in her book We Are On Our Own, which returns to print in a new edition from Drawn and Quarterly this year. In Letting It Go, she chronicled a return to Germany and a reckoning with past events. Nora Krug’s graphic memoir Belonging confronted her German family’s connection to the rise of Nazism, and her most recent book is an illustrated edition of On Tyranny, historian Timothy Snyder’s series of historically-informed strategies for confronting rising authoritarianism today. They will discuss these works and more in a conversation moderated by Marymount Manhattan College Associate Professor Tahneer Oksman (How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?).”

SATURDAY, APRIL 1 [Room 1]: 5:30-6:30, Professional Development: Publishing Books Today

“Book sales soared during the quarantine phase of the pandemic, followed by downturns, corporate tumult, supply chain issues, and rising costs in 2022. Meanwhile, graphic novels for younger readers and manga continue to attract unprecedented audiences. A panel of editors and industry professionals will discuss the state of publishing today and will also explain how they find new work (and talk about the best way to get their attention). Join us for a frank discussion moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos. This special professional development panel is co-organized and sponsored by the School of Visual Arts Department of Continuing Education.”


SUNDAY, APRIL 2 [Room 1]: 11:30-12:30, PEN America Presents: Comics and Censorship

“The past several years have seen an alarming rise in censorship and efforts to ban books from libraries and schools. Graphic novels have been particular targets of these efforts, including the well-known removal of Maus from a middle school curriculum in McMinn County, Tennessee. PEN America’s recent report “Banned in the USA” details the censorship of hundreds of books in a recent nine-month period, including dozens of graphic novels. PEN’s Jonathan Friedman will discuss this issue in a special discussion with three authors whose works were all affected: Mike Curato (Flamer), Cathy G. Johnson (The Breakaways) and Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer).”

SUNDAY, APRIL 2 [Room 2]: 11:30-12:30, Noah Van Sciver Q+A

“With work across a range of genres – from biography, to fiction satire, to autobiography – Noah Van Sciver has emerged as one of the most prolific cartoonists of his generation. His works include the critically acclaimed historical work Joseph Smith and the Mormons (Abrams ComicArts), the wildly popular literary satire Fante Bukowski (Fantagraphics Books), and the new autobiographical comic book series Maple Terrace (Uncivilized Books). He will discuss this work and more in conversation with Gil Roth (Virtual Memories podcast).”

SUNDAY, APRIL 2 [Room 1]: 1:00-2:00, Colleen Doran and Neil Gaiman in Conversation

“Colleen Doran has written and drawn the long-running creator-owned series A Distant Soil and has worked on titles including Wonder Woman, Amazing Spider-Man, and many others. Her body of work includes a series of collaborations with writer Neil Gaiman which are the subject of the exhibit “Colleen Doran Illustrates Neil Gaiman,” running from March 22nd to July 29th at the Society of Illustrators. She and Gaiman will discuss their collaborations and Doran’s overall body of work in a special programming event moderated by exhibition curator Kim Munson.”

SUNDAY, APRIL 2 [Room 2]: 1:00-2:00, Image and Narrative

“Comics and Illustration are frequently storytelling disciplines. A single image may contain embedded within it the suggestion of a narrative, or many stories. In comics, a single image is merely part of a web of images that together produce a narrative experience. Artists Sarula Bao (To All the White Girls I’ve Loved Before), Elizabeth Colomba (Queenie), and Toma Vagner – who drew this year’s MoCCA key image – will discuss the dynamic between image and narrative, and how it manifests across different forms in conversation with New Yorker Senior Art Director Alexandra Zsigmond.”

SUNDAY, APRIL 2 [Room 1]: 2:30-3:30, Carousel at MoCCA

“Since 1997, cartoonist R. Sikoryak has hosted Carousel, a series of comics readings and visual performances by cartoonists and theater artists. Sikoryak brings a special edition of Carousel to MoCCA Arts Festival, featuring exhibiting artists and guests, performing live. Join us for an audio-visual journey to the place where comics and performance collide!”

SUNDAY, APRIL 2 [Room 2]: 2:30-3:30, Comics and Labor

“The histories of comics and labor offer points of productive contact that show us, at various points, comics employed to support labor struggles, comics critical of union activities, and cartoonists as a class of exploited workers. Bill Kartalopoulos, who recently participated in the successful ACT-UAW strike at the New School, will discuss the past and present of comics and labor with Lantz Arroyo and Sarah Lopez of the worker-owned Radix Media and O. K. Fox of the Art and Labor podcast.”

SUNDAY, APRIL 2 [Room 1]: 4:00-5:00, Professional Development: Art and AI

“In the past year, new image generation platforms powered by Artificial Intelligence have made a surprising impression, impressing many with their ability to generate artwork uncanny images – and the threat these tools pose to the livelihoods of working artists. AI has quickly raised issues of copyright, as artists have challenged software firms’ use of publicly searchable, copyrighted imagery to train AI to produce comparable work. Meanwhile, other artists have embraced AI as a tool, and several AI generated comics have been published in the past year. Viktor Koen, chair of the Comics and Illustration departments at SVA, will speak with a panel of experts and industry activists on this complex topic. This special professional development panel is co-organized and sponsored by the School of Visual Arts Department of Continuing Education.”