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:


Kim Ku for Ghost Hotel. here is a short video of Ku and her award.


Andrea Tsurumi (profiled in our 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists here) for her new work, which I didn’t get the title of!


Jane Mai — also profiled in 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists.


Gregory Benton for B+F which I called “the book of the show.”


Kenan Rubenstein for Last Train to Old Town.

Honorable mention:

Nick Offerman and Simon Arizpe, the latter for his amazing pop up comics.

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.



  1. That was a good show and a lot of fun. Also, finally, Gregory Benton got some well deserved props! Thanks, everybody.

  2. I had a much different experience. While it felt to me like the new people tried really hard to make this the best MoCCA, I thought it was the worst one I’ve been to.

    The biggest problem was the volunteers. By and large, they were rude and boorish. I saw them hassle some people and quite a few would just push their way through the aisles when they wanted to get somewhere, knocking people into the tables and messing up people’s displays.

    They did nothing to actually stop the large groups of people who would gather into discussion groups in the middle of the aisles. Quite a few times, I would start walking down an aisle, politely ask to pass through, and have someone snap at me for interrupting their group discussion. I’d have to turn around and walk down a different aisle to circle back to finish the aisle I was originally perusing.

    Beyond that, I had a very difficult time getting to the tables and looking at all the books. The more I think about it, it was largely due to the large groups that would congregate and talk and wouldn’t move out of the way.

    I saw one small woman get hassled by a volunteer when she tried asking for help navigating the crowd. The guy shrugged her off and when she asked for help again, he ended up getting into an argument with her.

    The positives for me were meeting Ben Rosen and Evan Dahm, two unbelievably talented artists that are practically ignored by the comics bloggers. Also, the art display in the back was really, really cool.

    Overall, I thought it was a really ambitious try at fixing everything wrong with the old MoCCA and doing it better, but the poor volunteer staff really marred an otherwise good attempt. I liked how the old show had that big empty area splitting the rows of tables in half. That allowed the group discussions to occur outside of the aisles.

    Oh, and I finally got to talk to some people from Koyama press. They are some truly lovely people. My favorite publisher is also the nicest publisher. That was cool.

  3. A fantastic MoCCA Fest 2013! Congratulations to everyone at the Society of Illustrators! It was a wonderful weekend.! All of Society’s hard work and planning clearly paid off. Everyone that I spoke with which, included a long list of attendees and exhibitors agreed that it was a sensational festival. I had a wonderful weekend!

    Many thanks to comiXology and The Beat for co-hosting the closing party. It was great to hang-out with many good friends and have a toast with new friends.

  4. Chris, wow you had a really different show from anyone else. What can I say. I found the volunteers to be friendly and smart. Maybe you had the super rare Chris Hero Variant Edition MoCCA.

  5. I totally enjoyed the MoCCA Festival and events. The Society of Illustrators did a great job! The art gallery in the back with vintage pieces was a great addition this year! Anelle Miller did a FABULOUS job at bringing it all together! I met so many wonderful and talented people. Thanks SOI-MoCCA!

  6. Ellen — great to see you out last night and I’m glad you could come out and catch up with everyone. I tweeted this earlier but this Sartoon by Connie Sun really does capture the feeling:

  7. Heidi,

    I’m no one special. I’m just a guy who’s been to several MoCCA events and found this one to be my least favorite. I find it impossible to believe I’m the only person who had difficulty walking the aisles or talking to artists due to people making space for themselves to have their discussions in the aisles. I also doubt I’m the only one who was treated rudely by volunteers who were also pushing people out of their way to barrel down the aisles. But I do feel like sometimes with comic events, if the popular bloggers had a great time, then the people who didn’t have a good time are brushed aside with insults.

  8. Experiences will vary but I found the volunteers to be very nice and helpful. I was a first time exhibitor at MOCCA this year. The volunteers stopped by a few times to ask me if there was anything I needed. Additionally, I saw them getting things for people and even doing coffee runs for the people in the booth next to me. I talked to a few volunteers who were super nice as well. Just my 2 cents.

  9. Hey Chris, I’m not saying your opinion isn’t valid, or that it didn’t happen. I’m just saying that I didn’t hear anyone else having these specific complaints. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen — people often tell me what they think I want to hear. YMMV.

  10. “MoCCA continues its brilliance under the fireball Anelle Miller and an incredible new crew and ideas”, is how I have been describing the fantastic experience to my friends that have been asking. I then go on to tell them about how great it looked, the lover-ly art show, and how Yoe Books was treated grandly by everyone from the staff before and during the show and even during the wrap-up when they, like me, must have been dog (but good) tired. (Oh, and I scored some delightful comics, too–I have already been in touch with some of the immense talent behind them about some possible projects).

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