The 2012 MoCCA Festival happened last weekend, and I made the trek down to the 69th Regiment Armory on Saturday for the show.
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s annual festival is always one of my favorite shows of the year, as it offers a great opportunity to see some comics and creators who aren’t part of the larger comic-convention circuit. I’ve never been as indie-savvy as some of my colleagues, but the beauty of MoCCA is that among all the indie and small-press offerings, you’ll always find something cool there that might not cross your path at one of the big shows, either because it’s just not present at the larger show, or because it gets overlooked among the higher-profile projects there.
In years past, I snagged all three chapters of Brian Ralph’s brilliant first-person, post-apocalyptic zombie story Daybreak, as well as the first two volumes of Kazimir Strzepek’s wild, Lord of the Rings-esque saga The Mourning Star. I also picked up the first four volumes of Aaron Costain’s mini-comic Entropy, and ended up buying a print of one of my favorite images from the book — though to be perfectly honest, the image caught my eye first, and I ended up buying the books to go along with it.
Here’s the Entropy print I bought, framed on my wall:
So what was the hot stuff this year? Well, along with getting the chance to catch up with some of my favorite comic creators, I picked up three new books. That might not seem like a lot, but one of them was a very big book.
Here’s my haul from this year’s MoCCA Festival:
On the far left is the collected edition of Evan Dahm’s Order of Tales, which debuted at the show and collects the entire run of his wonderful online comic series in one massive volume.
I loved Dahm’s other series, Rice Boy, which was another surreal, epic adventure that felt like a mix of J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Gilliam at times. Rice Boy was initially recommended to me by my pal Gary Tyrrell, editor of the great webcomic news site Fleen, which tends to be my go-to source for what’s new and hot in the online comics scene, and he put this new Order of Tales collection on my radar, too.
On the right side of that photo, you’ll see the other two books I picked up: the first two volumes of Charles Soule’s Strongman.
I loved Soule’s series over at Image Comics, 27, about a rock star who gets caught up in the mystery of the “27 Club,” the group of iconic artists who died at the top of their game at age 27 (Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, etc). Strongman is about an aging luchador who suddenly decides to fight crime as a street vigilante, and all of the chaos that results from his decision. I’m a sucker for luchador stories, so when I dropped by Soule’s table to say hello and saw these books, I knew I was bringing them home.
Among the things I saw but didn’t bring home with me was this great series of pop-up graphic novels by Sam Ita. He had three books on the table, including this edition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which was pretty amazing:
And here’s one of the interior pages, showing one of the absolutely phenomenal, impressively complicated, and wonderful pop-up splash pages contained within the book:
I only spent a few hours at the show, but ended up seeing just about everyone I hoped to catch there, which included some quality catch-up time with the aforementioned, mustachioed renaissance man Gary Tyrrell, as well as Heidi MacDonald of The Beat, Jill “The Nerdy Bird” Pantozzi, and my pal Glenn Hauman of ComicMix. I also got to say some quick hellos to my pals at Top Shelf Productions and Fantagraphics, who always bring some great books to MoCCA and really seem to be the publishers to watch there every here.
Oh, and I was also able to finally meet Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland artist Joseph Remnant in person, after interviewing him several times over the phone, which was nice.
All things considered, it was another fun day at the MoCCA Festival, complete with a guy dressed as Boba Fett playing the accordion outside the building. When I left the show and headed home, he was playing John Williams’ theme from “Superman: The Movie” — which seemed entirely appropriate as I put another year of MoCCA fun in the rearview mirror.