The MoCCA Arts Festival, an annual indie and self-published comics and graphic novels show organized by the Society of Illustrators, attracted another big crowd to the Metropolitan West Event space in Manhattan April 6-7.
The show attracted just under 7,000 fans over the weekend and featured a record day on Saturday when more than 4,000 fans attended, according to Annelle Miller, executive director of the Society of Illustrators. Miller said there was “standing room only at our professional development panels,” which were held at Ink48, a hotel close to the event space. Miller said the show added new sponsors (Adobe and Blick Art Materials) and cited the increased participation of schools, including a long line of Illustration/cartooning schools exhibiting along the long wall on the second floor of the event space. More photos from MoCCA can be seen here.
This year’s show featured about 170 exhibitors and the programming featured a tribute to veteran cartoonists such as guests of honor Bill Sienkiewicz (featured in an onstage interview with artist Klaus Janson) and Keith Knight (who presented his new comics anti-racism slideshow Red, White, Black and Blue: Why America Keeps Punching Itself In the Face When it Comes to Race,’). Also honored was New Yorker cartoonist Mort Gerberg, who was showing off Mort Gerberg: On the Scene, a new book chronicling his career from Fantagraphics that was published in conjunction with an exhibition of Gerberg’s cartoons currently on display at the New York Historical Society.
Most publishers contacted by PW said the crowds on the floor were steady throughout the weekend and sales were good. NoBrow associate marketing manager Geoffrey Lapid was showing off copies of Jon McNaught’s Kingdom, a detailed family story told in an avalanche of tiny beautifully illustrated panels, and Lorena Alvarez’s kids’ graphic novel Hicotea. Lapid told PW the indie house had sold out of several titles.
Uncivilized publisher Tom Kacsynski hosted signings by Gabrielle Bell (Everything is Flammable) and Kelsey Wroten’s Cannonball, a new and engagingly eccentric new graphic novel just published this month. Abrams ComicArts hosted signings by editor, designer, and comics expert Chip Kidd (Shazam!) and Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith, who was signing copies of Nobody’s Fool, a graphic biography of the so-called carnival freak that Zippy the Pinhead is based on. At the table of children's graphic novel publisher Papercutz, writer David Gallagher was signing copies of his graphic novel series Only Living Boy (with artist Steve Ellis) and his new series Only Living Girl.
Among the artists PW discovered on the floor were cartoonist Rumi Hara, who was selling a series of mini-comics about a little girl named Nori that she said will be collected into a book collection by D&Q; and the creative team of writer Matt Durand and artist Earl Womack, who were selling copies of Tunnel Rat, a fictional comics series set during the Vietnam war that follows the experiences of a soldier that volunteers to go down into and patrol the booby-trapped tunnels used by the Viet Cong.
Although the show has effectively maxed out the room available at the Metropolitan West space, Miller said the MoCCA Art Fest will remain in the venue for the foreseeable future. She cited its convenience, pricing and layout, which includes a gallery exhibition space, elevator and rest area. “There’s a waiting list for exhibitors and its always a challenge when we have to say no to someone, but the space works for us,” Miller said.