Details for 2014’s MoCCA Festival have just been revealed, and it answers many questions. The Guests of Honor are Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, Fiona Staples and Robert Williams (Above), but more featured guests will be announced later. The show will return to the Lexington Armory on April 5-6. I know organizers looked at different venues but this is still the most practical for many reasons.
In a really huge change, the price of admission is being dropped to $5 per day. Last year tickets were $15 which is just too much for a “Caf” of this kind. Hopefully the lower price will open MoCCA up to an even wider audience.
The guest list itself presents, to my eye, a nice wide range. Bechdel is a current superstar, Cruse is a veteran master (and groundbreaking creator) deserving the attention, Williams is a hero to a whole different crowd, and Staples should be a big draw. None of them have been over exposed in the area. It’s my understanding that a well-known local veteran figure will be taking over the programming, so that should be in good hands as well.
This is the first show that will really show the imprimatur of the Society of Illustrators, led by Anelle Miller, which took over on short notice for the 2013 Festival. If nothing else, lowering the admission price is a huge step in the right direction.
ABOUT THE GUESTS OF HONOR
Alison Bechdel is an award-winning cartoonist who developed a loyal following for her long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. In 2006, Bechdel published Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, an autobiographical graphic memoir chronicling her childhood and relationship with her closeted father. Fun Home was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and was named Best Book of 2006 by Time Magazine. A second graphic memoir, Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in May 2012.
Howard Cruse emerged from the countercultural underground comix scene and, in 1979, began editing the pioneering Gay Comix anthology series, featuring work by openly gay and lesbian cartoonists and directly addressing aspects of queer experience. In the 1980s he went on to createWendel, a strip about a gay man, his lover Ollie, and a cast of quirky surrounding characters, which appeared regularly in The Advocate. During the 1990s Cruse worked on the award-winning graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, published in 1995 with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. Since then, Cruse has published numerous titles including Wendel All Together, The Swimmer with a Rope in his Teeth (written by Jeanne E. Shaffer), From Headrack To Claude, Felix’s Friends, and more.
Fiona Staples is a comic book artist living in Calgary, Canada. She has illustrated numerous comics including Mystery Society, Done to Death, Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor, Jonah Hex, and Northlanders. She has contributed cover art to DV8, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Criminal Macabre, Superman/Batman, Archie, and more. In March of 2012, Image Comics published the first issue of Saga, an ongoing series by Brian K. Vaughan, which received critical acclaim and for which she received two Eisner Awards, a Hugo Award, and several Harvey Awards.
Robert Williams is a prolific oil painter and cartoonist whose iconic detailed images depict naked women, death, destruction, booze and clowns. During the 1960s Williams worked under Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the Hot Rod Culture, creating advertisements and graphics and developing his style. He later became one of the key contributors to Zap Comix, the flagship underground comix anthology that also featured work by S. Clay Wilson, Spain Rodriguez, Rick Griffin, Gilbert Shelton and Victor Moscoso. By the 1980s Williams had shifted his attention more directly to painting, and in 1994 founded Juxtapoz Magazine, creating an outlet for artists in the contemporary art world who identified with his “Lowbrow” style. He exhibits his work frequently, and has had several solo shows at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York City (with one upcoming in 2014). He is the subject of the 2013 documentary film Robert Williams: Mr. Bitchin’.