MoCCA 2008: The Cross Hatch Rehash

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Butch Patrick wasn’t at MoCCA this year. On Saturday, television’s Eddie Munster was 40 blocks uptown, appearing at the Big Apple Con alongside a slew of other names that run the gamut of Hollywood notoriety from Richard Dreyfuss and Malcolm McDowell to Mason Reese and the guy who first dressed up like a cowboy in The Village People. Over the years, Big Apple has come to be known—at least in indie circles—as something of a living embodiment of every last stereotype the media has pinned on the world of comic book conventions, reasons why MoCCA attendees seated on the steps leading up to the main entrance of the Puck Building on Houston st. softly mumbled “a comic convention” when passersby asked what was going on inside.

As divisive as May’s New York Comic Con felt in terms of the dichotomy between the industry’s mainstream and independent contingents, it was nowhere near the rift left by the decision to schedule MoCCA and Big Apple on the same weekend in July. That both Saturday and Sunday saw seemingly near-capacity crowds at the former should be seen as testament to the ever-growing self-contained viability of the scene. As academically pandering as the name of the Post-Bang conference that proceeded the festival seemed, surrounded by row after row and room after room of stapled pamphlets bursting with vibrant creativity, it was tough to refute the sentiment. Walking through the halls of the Puck Building, it was difficult to imagine any other medium experiencing an artistic renaissance on that level in at the present moment.

I’d tricked myself into believing that it might be possible to experience the full scope of the festival on a single day, but as armies of volunteers in red shirts eagerly ushered us out the doors at 6:03 on Saturday evening, it was clear that, despite several hours spent walking around in circles, I’d only managed to scratch the surface of what the festival had to offer.

As great as APE and SPX are, year after year (I’ve sadly yet to attend Stumptown), those conventions somehow don’t feel as deep as MoCCA in terms of the sheer volume of amazing fair fanned out across the show’s tables. Anything beyond a cursory examination of the world of small press comics almost certainly requires a full weekend pass. Of course, between the wall of 100-degree humidity awaiting us outside and the general good nature of the show, which at times feels like the beaming offspring of a comic convention and a community art fair, redeeming the second half of my two-day pass was a bit of a no-brainer.

All of this despite two fairly late nights in a row. Friday, post-Post-Bang I hopped on a train into Williamsburg, Brooklyn, opting to attend the five book release party at Desert Island for Austen English, Eamon Espey, Sam Gaskin, Dave Kiersh, and Chris Wright, a full lineup, which fittingly spilled some 100 attendees out onto the sidewalk in front of the store, many risking the threat of fines, luke warm cans of PBR in hand. The simultaneous party at Cobble Hill’s Rocketship apparently boasted a rather impressive turnout itself, thanks to a headlining appearance by Norway’s finest proprietor of anthropomorphic animal comics, Jason. Another train back into Manhattan to a birthday party for “comics’ oldest 30-year-old,” Charles Brownstein.

On Saturday night, it was the Lulu Awards, whose joviality was no doubt helped along by the relative brevity of the event, clocking in at under 30 minutes by my account. Everyone from the Oscars to the Eisners can take a cue from efficiency of the Lulu crew. Heidi’s got a full rundown of the winner here. Our podcast pals at Indie Spinner Rack threw what by many accounts was the only thing going down post-Lulu that evening, a get together held at a surprisingly swanky watering hole in Manhattan’s Tribeca district.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-2kDBw8JnE]

Sunday was a touch more mellow by most accounts, no doubt compounded by the utter exhaustion from the heat and two prior evenings’ worth of comic book debauchery. Tired and sore and sticky from the heat, it seems safe to say that no one in attendance was quite prepared for that afternoon—the MoCCA event LiveJournaled around the world, kicked off by what sounded like police sirens, followed soon thereafter by flashing lights, and despite years of drills beaten into our little minds by thoughtful school instructors, no one thought to leave the building until we were ushered outside into the aforementioned wall of heat, though as miserable as that half-hour spent on the sidewalk was, it was almost certainly nothing compared to the poor stream of fully-suited fireman who answered the call, evacuated the rest of the building.

The event led MoCCA’s organizers to push back closing time by half an hour—a mixed blessing, judging from the perky faces and tired eyes manning table after table. By 6:30, it was clear to all of the weekenders why a thing like MoCCA can only happens once a year.

For my part, I’m still weeding through the piles of swag I walked away with, after having dropped off a fairly large stack with Will Dinski, who agreed, kindly, to haul the minis back to Minneapolis and the discerning bespectacled eyes of Sarah Morean (who, for the record, promised that she would be making an appearance at SPX in October). Dinski’s own Beautiful, Cool, and Irreplaceable—the first long form work I’ve seen by the artist—has made its way toward the top of my reading pile, though the book may be taking a backseat to Ad House’s stunning anthology of Joshua Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and the surprisingly beautiful Star Wars “Fanbook,” Harvest is When I Need You the Most, which features the talents of Cross Hatch favorites like Box Brown, Dave Roman, and Raina Telgemeier.

Over at the Sparkplug table, I grabbed Chris Wright’s Ink Weed and the fourth issue of Elijah Brubaker’s consistently terrific Reich and parted with a few bucks right next door at Microcosm’s booth to pick up the new Snake Pit book the indescribably fascinating Mostly True, a “hobo graffiti magazine.” Newcomers Secret Acres are also starting to put out some rather promising stuff like Eamon Espey’s WormDye. And of course I would it wouldn’t have been a MoCCA without the latest issue of Papercutter, provided kindly by MK Reed.

The rest of my pile is rounded off by new minis by JP Coovert, Joey Weiser, Minty Lewis, Damien Jay, Jamie Tanner, Marcos Perez, Ben Rosen and Liz Baillie–all of which, of course, doesn’t count the massive pile that Sarah will soon be receiving.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go—I need to polish off this pile before October.

–Brian Heater

2 Comments to “MoCCA 2008: The Cross Hatch Rehash”

  1. Tom | June 12th, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I’ll say this: the people attending MOCCA smell a whole lot better on average than the BACon attendees, and I go to both cons yearly. Blame the weather, blame the lack of AC at the Penn Pavilion, blame the flabby fanboys, but lordy, they reek.

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