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Make Mine MoCCA: A guide to the festival this weekend

MoCCA 2012

Dust off your shoes and pull your tote bag out of the closet kids, it’s MoCCA time once again. The annual indie/small press comics show hosted by the Museum will take place at the Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City this weekend. It promises to be a grand affair, with tons of publishers, minicomics, books and panels to choose from. Underneath the link we’ve put together a quick rundown of some of the more notable and interesting (well interesting to us any way) goings-on at the show this weekend.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Spider-Island’ tops sluggish July; BOOM!’s Disney titles end in October

Amazing Spider-Man #666

Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels in July fell 6.17 percent versus July 2010, with dollar sales of comic books sold through Diamond Comic Distributors falling 4.27 percent and graphic novels falling 10.10 percent year-over-year. Unit sales for comics were only down slightly, at .52 percent, which ICv2 points out “indicates that comic book cover prices have in fact declined. The problem is that circulation numbers have not risen enough to make up for the decline in revenue from lower cover prices.” Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man #666, which kicked off the “Spider-Island” event, was the best-selling comic of the month, while League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III Century #2 from Top Shelf topped the graphic novel chart. John Jackson Miller has commentary.

Marvel saw a slight increase in its dollar market share for July when compared to June, while DC’s jumped from 28.03 percent in June to 30.55 percent in July. IDW, the No. 5 publisher in terms of dollar share in June, moved to the No. 3 position in July. The top seven publishers were rounded out by Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite and BOOM! [ICv2]

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Five minutes with Rick Parker

You might be familiar with Rick Parker from his work on the Pekar Project, the Beavis and Butthead comics he did for MTV, or his comic Deadboy, but if you don’t have kids around the house, you might not know his most recent work, the parodies Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid, Harry Potty and the Deathly Boring, and Breaking Down, all done for NBM’s children’s comics imprint Papercutz.

If those all sound like updated Mad Magazine parodies, well, all I can say is check out the art. Like seminal Mad artist Will Elder, Parker likes to fill the backgrounds of his panels with lots of small, often hilarious details. (Finding the word “Potrzebie” in one of them convinced me that the similarity was intentional.) Like Mad, the humor in his books is juvenile and sophisticated at the same time.

I have seen Rick at cons, usually sitting at the Papercutz table sketching away, and at MoCCA I decided to say hi. My suspicions were immediately confirmed. “I saw Mad Magazine in 1957 or 1958, and it rocked my world,” he said, reeling off the names of Mad artists—Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Wally Wood. “I modeled myself after Will Elder,” he said. “I wanted to do that in the present day. I was the artist for Beavis and Butthead, and I tried to put some funny stuff in there.”

He pointed out a panel in Harry Potty that featured a room full of crystal balls bearing assorted faces. One had the face of Mad publisher William Gaines, and another featured the face of his editor at Papercutz, Jim Salicrup. “I should give out little magnifying glasses with Harry Potty,” he said.

“One of the great things about comics is that people don’t move on until they are ready,” he said. “I want to be able to squeeze as much juice out of the lemon as possible. If people are going to spend time on something I have done, I want them to enjoy it.”

“I just want to make people laugh.”

MoCCA in words and pictures

This is why I came to MoCCA!

With a cheerful crowd, a pleasant venue, and plenty of exciting creators and books, this year’s MoCCA seems to have been deemed a success. Both Christopher Mautner and I were there, and we decided that rather than write two separate blog posts, we would have a dialogue in which we contrast our impressions of the show. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive report on the show, check out the MoCCA report by our CBR colleague Alex Dueben as well as Tim Callahan’s writeup of his visit.

Chris: I’ll start: Was this your first time at a small-press comics show? I know you’ve gone to NYCC and several manga/anime related shows before, but I didn’t know if you’d been to something like MoCCA before? What was your general impression?

Brigid: This was my first time at MoCCA and my first time at a small-press comicsshow like this, although I have been to art shows with a similar feel.

First of all, I loved the locale. I actually used to live a few blocks away, so it was a bit of a homecoming for me to walk through Madison Square Park in the sunshine. The building itself had a nice, open, loft-like feel with plenty of rough edges—it felt artsy.

The show itself seemed like a giant, really good, Artists Alley. (I kept getting this feeling of deja vu because there were so many people I had just seen at C2E2.) The show definitely felt crowded, but never overwhelming. I made a pretty good circuit of the floor, but I felt like I missed as much as I saw, and I could easily have spent twice as much time there as I did.

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Pascal Girard draws MoCCA

One of the regular features of the new Comics Journal website is a diary comic by a different creator each week. They started off with Brandon Graham, and as this week’s diarist, Pascal Girard, notes, that’s a tough act to follow. Girard is off to a strong start though; his first comic chronicles the doings of Night Animals creator Brecht Evens, who is already becoming a bit of a MoCCA legend (see Peggy Burns’ epic MoCCA post at the Drawn and Quarterly blog for more). Stay tuned!

What Are You Reading?

Our Hero: Superman on Earth

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Nate Cosby, co-writer of the upcoming Image series Pigs and editor of the upcoming Jim Henson’s The Storyteller anthology, which will feature stories by an impressive group of talented creators.

To see what Nate and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.

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To do: Rabid Rabbit/C’est Bon Kultur art show tonight in Brooklyn

If you’re in the New York City area and looking for something to do to get you into a MoCCA mood, Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn is holding a book launch/art show for “the awesome double-issue-flip-book anthology Rabid Rabbit #13 & C’est Bon Kultur #14.” The opening reception starts at 8 p.m. Eastern tonight. You can find all the details on the BSC site.

Make mine MoCCA: Creators and small press

Of course, the really great thing about this weekend’s MoCCA Festival is the huge flock of individual creators who go there to show off their work. Here’s the full list, and here are a few of the highlights that jumped out at me. Feel free to point out the good stuff I missed in the comments section.

Cathy Leamy will be at the Boston Comics Roundtable table with her brand-new diary comic What’s the Word?, a collection of her diary comics from Metrokitty.

Neil Kleid will happily sign copies of his comics, mini-comics, and graphic novels (The Big Kahn, Brownsville), and anything else he has work in (including the Fraggle Rock anthology), but if you really want to make his day, bring him an obscure soda.

Stephanie Yue, who illustrates the Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye graphic novels (not just adorable, but funny for both adults and kids) will be there, as will her editor Carol Burrell, who draws SPQR Blues under the nickname Klio.

Rica Takashima will have a special doujinshi just for MoCCA. Rica is a yuri (lesbian) manga creator and the author of the much-acclaimed Rica ‘tte Kanji?, which Shaenon Garrity described, approvingly, as “as cute as a blender full of kittens.”

If your tastes tend more toward the retro-bizzare, check out Coin Op Studio, which will be debuting the charmingly titled Coin Op No. 3: Municipal Parking and Waterfall at the show.

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To do: Strange Tales party tomorrow night in New York

Strange Tales Party

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Beat are hosting a party in New York Saturday night featuring a wide array of guests who worked on Marvel’s Strange Tales anthologies, with proceeds benefiting the CBLDF. You can find complete details after the jump or in the above flyer by Paul Maybury.

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Make mine MoCCA: Publishers

MoCCA Fest 2011 is this coming Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, and as always, the show is bulging with new artists and established creators showing off their latest, most experimental, projects. I’m going to round up of some of the announcements that have come our way, starting with those from publishers.

Fantagraphics plans to have creators signing at their booth pretty much the whole time, with a roster that includes Kim Dietch, Peter Bagge, Dash Shaw, Michael Kupperman, Gahan Wilson, and others too numerous to mention—check out the full list at their blog. Their people are also going to be involved in a ton of panels, and with a four-table block (J1, J2, K1, K2), they should be hard to miss.

Abrams will have their usual crowd of A-list creators at their booth: Jerry Robinson, Michael Uslan, Chip Kidd, Al Jaffee, and Craig Yoe. Jaffee will receive the 2011 Klein Award for volunteer of the year, and Uslan and Robinson will be on the panel Batman, the Joker and Beyond on Sunday.

Top Shelf will be debuting two new books, Liar’s Kiss by Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano, and Night Animals, by Brecht Evens. Both Skillman and Evens will be there to show off their new books. Jess Fink will also be in attendance, although her Chester 5000 isn’t due out until May.

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MoCCA adds two new staff


The Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art in New York, or MoCCA, today announced they’ve hired two new staff to replace departing Museum Director Karl Erickson, who left late last year.

“During the search process, the Board of Trustees realized that the museum’s growth has made it necessary to fill a wide variety of skill sets in order to help MoCCA achieve its future goals,” said Museum President Ellen Abramowitz. “There was clearly a need to build greater leadership capacity at the staff level in order for us to continue growing. Sometimes when you have big shoes to fill, it makes more sense to add an extra set of feet.”

Cartoonist Doug Bratton will take on the role of museum manager/director of development, and Mell Scalzi has been hired to serve as registrar. Per a press release that you can find after the jump, both have worked with the museum in the past.

Both will work on the upcoming MoCCA Festival, set for April 9-10, as well as “a 10-Year Anniversary Celebration that will include the unveiling of future plans for a permanent, state-of-the-art facility.”

Check out the full press release after the jump.

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From minicomics to mainstream, by way of MoCCA

Sarah Glidden, as drawn by Sarah Glidden

When she set out for Israel, Sarah Glidden was carrying some baggage — strong opinions about the country and some suspicion about the sponsor of her tour, Birthright, which provides all-expenses-paid trips to Israel for young Jewish people. “How shall I put it? … When there is an expensive trip offered for free, there is always bound to be a downside to it,” she told the magazine Haaretz.

To keep her skeptical eye, Glidden decided to make a graphic novel about her trip, and the result is How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, which came out this week. Glidden shares her experiences in Israel, and discusses how she turned that into a graphic novel, in the Haaretz article, which is well worth a read. But this Horatio Alger aspect is what caught my eye:

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Quote of the day | Dustin Harbin vs. small-press comic cons

Don't mess with Dharbin

Don't mess with Dharbin

“I can’t BELIEVE MoCCA’s table prices. They are drinking the same hubris Kool-Aid as SPX. Why are the charity shows always the cheekiest? I saw it and I was like *slaps head*. Although to be fair, I’ve never exhibited there, just been a crowded hot attendee. (I read some interviews with them after the super hot year, they were all like ‘hey listen, it’s summer, it gets hot.’) Not to mention how expensive NYC is in general! Just makes it easier to skip. Also today I got my acceptance letter (???) for APE, after applying 3 months ago. Due date for payment: 1 week from now. I had always heard about how well-run HeroesCon is from guests, but now I see why. Indie shows are organized like block parties. Except the kind of block parties where they charge you like $50 to come in, then charge you for beer too. ‘Dude it’s for charity!’ SPX is pretty fun, but TCAF is the best one easily–plus Toronto = my favorite city! Wait, please exclude TCAF from that mini-rant. TCAF is a dream, a dreammmm. Other shows take note! Okay back to lettering, sorry.”

Cartoonist, Casanova letterer, and “nicest guy in comics” candidate Dustin Harbin has an uncharacteristically grumpy moment on Twitter over the prices that the MoCCA Art Festival is charging exhibitors, and the administration of indie/alt-comics shows generally (except TCAF, of course). It’s hard out there for a minicomics creator.

Straight for the art | Sean’s David Bowie Sketchbook, MoCCA 2010

David Bowie by Niklas Asker

David Bowie by Niklas Asker

I’ve been collecting David Bowie sketches from comics artists at shows and cons since MoCCA 2007. What can I say? He’s my favorite superhero. In that time I’ve amassed drawings of the chameleonic musician from 97 different artists, and adding to the collection is always a high priority for me at every show. I had exceptionally good luck at this year’s MoCCA — you better hang on to yourself as we flip through this year’s haul!

Niklas Asker (above): Oh man, look at that, just look at it. How can a sketch be shiny? Niklas Asker pulled it off with maybe the most elegant and sexy Bowie of the batch–no surprise, if you’ve seen his graphic novel Second Thoughts.

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My MoCCA haul

Sean's MoCCA 2010 loot

Sean's MoCCA 2010 loot

I came to shop.

Seriously, I was just about as excited for this past weekend’s MoCCA festival as I’ve ever been for any comic convention. And it wasn’t because of the guests or the panels or even getting to see so many of my friends and colleagues — it was because of the comics. The best thing about a small-press show is your ability to dig into the tables and come away with enough treasures to keep you reading happily for weeks. Proceeding from the top left of the picture above in as logical a fashion as I can manage, here’s a rundown of my personal treasure trove…

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