Society of Illustrators
I walked into MoCCA Arts Fest a few minutes after it opened, with my friend Erica Friedman, and we noticed the difference right away: The last two shows have had an improvised, “Let’s have a comics show! We can use my father’s barn!” kind of feeling. They weren’t disorganized, exactly, and the talent has always been top-notch, but the show floor felt crowded, cluttered, and confusing.
This was the first year that the Society of Illustrators was running the event. Organizers had a lot to prove, and they proved it. The show felt professional. The aisles were wider. A very simple addition — a bright red backdrop that ran behind the tables — made a huge difference, giving visitors more focus and eliminating the distraction of looking out across that cavernous space. The red curtains also set off a small gallery at the back of the armory that featured original comics art from the Society’s collection, a gentle reminder that they have been welcoming comics creators for more than 100 years. Visitors could buy a slick, nicely produced catalog for $5, and there was a modest cafe downstairs, a pleasant addition that allowed friends who met at the show to sit down and have a bite and a chat without disrupting the experience too much.
Conventions | The Tokyo Big Sight convention center in May will lift the ban on events associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. Creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki and numerous venues that were hosting manga and doujinshi (fan comics) shows have received threatening letters, some containing liquid or powder, and as a result, Kuroko’s Basketball fan events have been canceled and doujinshi tables have been banned from several comics events. (More background here.) [Kotaku]
The Society of Illustrators has announced the programming schedule for the 2013 MoCCA Arts Festival, held April 6-7 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. This will be the first festival after the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art transferred its assets to the Society in August.
“We are thrilled to offer two full days of discussion and learning to festival attendees and exhibitors,” Executive Director Anelle Miller said in a statement. “We have designed this year’s programming to be focused on the artists and their work and are honored to have so many talented and inspiring individuals involved.”
See the schedule below. Tickets are available for purchase online.
Museums | So what is the deal with the move of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art to the Society of Illustrators? They are being “transferred and acquired,” says MoCCA President Ellen Abramowitz, although the headline on this article says “rescued.” “After the transition, the Society of Illustrators will go on to be the sole overseer and manager of the holdings. ‘It’s in excellent hands,’ said Ms. Abramowitz.” [The Wall Street Journal]
The press release sounds a little ominous:
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) and the Society of Illustrators have announced plans for MoCCA to transfer its assets to the Society, creating a single cultural institution supporting and celebrating illustration, comics, and animation.
Does that mean MoCCA is going to disappear? Apparently not:
The Society will continue and expand MoCCA’s mission in a number of ways: staging MoCCA Fest in its current location, dedicating a gallery in the Society building to MoCCA’s Permanent Collection, continuing MoCCA programming, and curating a special exhibition of works from MoCCA’s Permanent Collection in their Hall of Fame Gallery (on display March 5-May 4), which will run in conjunction with a major exhibit, “The Comic Art of Harvey Kurtzman,” curated by graphic designer and comics-anthology editor Monte Beauchamp. There will be extensive arts programming around both of these exhibits, including lectures, workshops, film and music series. Current MoCCA memberships will be honored at the Society of Illustrators.
This being New York, it’s all about the real estate, or at least that’s how it feels; the museum’s earlier digs, at 594 Broadway, were in a cool neighborhood but on the fourth floor. MoCCA President Ellen Abramowitz told The Comics Journal last month that MoCCA’s lease was up and they needed to decide whether to stay or go. The new space will be a ground-level gallery on East 63rd St., a few blocks east of Central Park.
As for the Society of Illustrators, they seem to be pretty comics-friendly; previous members include Will Eisner, Milton Caniff, Al Capp, and Rube Goldberg—the list in the press release is heavily slanted toward newspaper comics. The question is to what extent MoCCA will be able to keep its own identity, and it seems like for the next year at least, that won’t be a problem.