Reporter Michael Dean’s long, investigative reports are one of the things we most miss about the old print Comics Journal, but he’s back with a look at MoCCA, both the festival and the museum:
The MoCCA festival has flourished and a series of varied educational programs sponsored by the museum continues to thrive. As for the museum itself, well, at least it’s still here, and that’s more than some comic-art museums can say. It hasn’t gone virtual the way Kevin Eastman’s Words and Pictures Museum did in 1999. And it hasn’t been absorbed by a university like Mort Walker’s Museum of Cartoon Art, now a resident of the Ohio State campus. But if MoCCA is a success story, it’s also a story of compromises and struggle. It’s a story that may have much to tell about the place of comics in the East Coast art world. Because, for better or worse, MoCCA is the high-water mark for the level of respectability that comic art has been able to carve out for itself in its home town.
Although there was beef in the past between MoCCA and TCJ co-editor Dan Nadel, the piece is far from a hatchet job, painting a balanced portrait of a small institution struggling mightily with very little funding. In fact the nut graph of the whole piece might be this:
Abramowitz, Salicrup, and Klein all told the Journal that the museum has not been corrupted by big-money donations from the large comics publisher partly because there hasn’t been any big-money donations from the large comics publishers.
Dean contrasts MoCCA with the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco which, although it has many of the small-museum problems as MoCCA, has one giant advantage: an actual collection of art.
MoCCA tends to be a hot button issue among the locals for the reasons that Dean mentions: it’s the best we have in the center of Art Town, USA so both its flaws and virtues get magnified. The dream of a full-scale museum of comics art in New York is one well worth having; the road to getting there is a long and difficult one. From reading the piece it seems like the Notorious B.I.G. version of the MoCCA story would be called “No Money, Mo Problems.”