After three venues in as many years, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s annual comics show, aka the MoCCA Arts Festival, seems to have found a lasting home at the Metropolitan West event space on west 46th Street in Manhattan. Held April 2-3, the annual festival of indie comics drew a lively crowd to see artists such as Noelle Stevenson, author of the National Book Award nominated graphic novel Nimona, and animation star Rebecca Sugar, in addition to two floors of exhibitors, an art exhibition, and panels held around the corner at the Ink48 Hotel on 11th Avenue.
Anelle Miller, executive director of the Society of Illustrators, which runs and organizes the MoCCA Arts Festival, said she received “great feedback from our guest artists and exhibitors” about the new venue. “We hope this is a venue that can be our home for several years.” The Metropolitan West venue features two 12,000 square foot floors, “about the same space we had before,” Miller said.
Miller said the show had about 200 exhibitors, the same number as last year. Attendance for the weekend was about 6,000 people, down from the approximately 7,000 reported last year, although Miller said this year’s attendance was “a great number.” Feedback from exhibitors, she said, was that this year, “attendees spent a lot more money.”
NBM, Abrams, Yoe Books and Nobrow were among many exhibitors reporting strong sales. Fantagraphics had a particularly tempting array of books, with a new edition of the acclaimed full color anthology, Kramers Ergot, selling out.
The strong sales reported by publishers was also a bit of a surprise given the crowded calendar for indie comics events around North America. Publishers are becoming much more selective about what shows they attend, and with its New York location, MoCCA has some of the most expensive tables on the circuit. Canadian publishers–D&Q, Koyama Press, and Conundrum–were notable by their absence, and several other small presses sat it out.
The star of the show was definitely Rebecca Sugar, creator of the Cartoon Network’s hugely popular Steven Universe animated show. As many as a hundred people were unable to get into her panel. Sugar is returning to her cartooning roots with an upcoming book from Youth in Decline, and her presence highlighted the continuing crossover between indie comics and the animation world.
A panel on Wimmen’s Comix, the underground women’s comics anthology published from 1972 to 1992, featured cartoonists Diane Noomin, Phoebe Gloeckner, Jennifer Camper, and Leslie Sternbergh talking about their involvement in the groundbreaking anthology as well as wrestling with the myriad issues around its feminist legacy. Noomin recalled that “feminist ideals didn’t make good comics.” But looking back at the series–Fantagraphics collected the entire run in a recently released two volume reprint edition—she said she liked it and the comics they created much more with the passage of time.