Despite having to overcome the daunting combination of a new venue, an overheated hall and organizational gaffes, this year’s MoCCA Art Festival, held this past weekend, drew impressive crowds and offered another vibrant display of the state of indie comics and graphic novel publishing. The influential small press show featured much anticipated new works by David Mazzucchelli (Asterios Polyp), Seth (George Sprott) and Kazimir Strazpek (The Mourning Star), in addition to a wealth of foreign cartoonists showing off new works of their own.

This is the first year that the festival, sponsored by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, has been held at the the historic 69th Regiment Lexington Avenue Armory after many years at the Puck Building in SoHo and the move did not go smoothly. An outside temperature of 80 degrees and a lack of air conditioning led to suffocating temperatures on the floor and exhibitors complained bitterly about the conditions, including one who called the show "an endurance run." More seriously, by 11:00 a.m. Saturday, when doors were scheduled to open, many exhibitors books had not been delivered and badges and cash registers were not in place. Opening time was pushed back and a long line of fans ended up waiting in the sun, sometimes for as much as an hour.

MoCCA Museum director Karl Erickson issued an apology to exhibitors, blaming the delivery delays on “miscommunication with the movers” and street traffic. He also said that the temperature in the hall was “unexpected,” and promised to look into ways to address the problem in the future. This isn’t the first time the show has had to deal with heat-related problems, indeed the top floor of the Puck building was notorious for near stifling conditions.

But fans were determined to brave the heat to get their indie comics and most, though not all, exhibitors expressed satisfaction with sales and attendance. Although MoCCA is a small press show that attracts self-publishers and mini comics, the growth of book format comics and the influence of book publishing was apparent. Big publishers like Pantheon, First Second and Abrams exhibited right next to indie webcomics stars like Kate Beaton (Never Learn Anything From History) and Randall Munroe ( Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp sold out and such publishers as Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and Drawn & Quarterly all reported very good sales. The show also offered an international slice of the indie comics movement with a large contingent of foreign cartoonists from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, France and Romania showing off their comics chops.

The new venue also offered a very effective departure from the Puck building’s warren of connected rooms and crowd-squeezing bottlenecks. The Armory’s huge hall allowed all the exhibitors to be on one floor, while panels were held in a large room on a lower level. Despite the heat, delays and complaints—the rising price of tables is always an issue—this year’s MoCCA Art fest was once again a platform for great talent and books. The show continues to be a magnet for conventional book publishers (and literary agents) looking for new artists as well as fans looking for inventive new works. “Many exhibitors expressed that they did well and had a very good time. Attendees were raving about the quality of comics, books and art available,” said Erickson.

[Additional reporting by Kiel Phegley and Kate Fitzsimons]