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Cool Things At MoCCA Fest 2017

So many people have written about MoCCA Fest 2017, I’m just going to mention some things that I enjoyed hearing/hearing about/discussing. No particular order.

  • Meredith Gran tells me that she’s got 15-20 story pages of OctoPie left to go; everybody is getting wrapped up but concedes that there will be minor characters whose arcs aren’t completely finished; given sufficient desire, she said she could spend another year working all of those resolutions. Somewhat similarly, she’s still deciding on what her next project will be. Me, I want Manuel the cat, Olly’s snotty nephew, and the Rock Lobster to fight crime together in New Orleans.
  • Gene Yang, Damian Duffy, Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and Jonathan W Gray had a hell of smart discussion about the need for diversity in comics to start the programming track. Ironically, this came one day after the Marvel pronouncement about diverse characters not selling, and they were having very little of that claim. Bonus points to Duffy; when Gray threw out an open question about how to make comics more diverse, he replied Well, as the white male, let me solve that racism for you … to big (if slightly knowing) laughs.

    Yang, by the way, is the consummate professional; we spoke very briefly at SDCC last summer and he both recognized me and asked how I was doing when we caught each other’s eyes. I asked him what it’s like being an Official Genius and he noted I still have to do the dishes. I told him to try using his Ambassador For Young Peoples Literature credentials — they must surely offer some kind of diplomatic immunity from sink-based chores.

  • George O’Connor and I spoke at decent length about our love of Greek myths; I’m constantly impressed by his ability to take stories that are fundamentally dark, filled with horrific punishments and hubris and death, and make them accessible (without losing that edge of menace) to young readers. He replied that he started reading them at that age (drawn in by the idea of monsters; his design for the hecatonchires as fractal horrors is really inspired) and he turned out okay.

    He’s done some deep dives into the entire corpus of the mythic tradition, too; there’s thousands of variations and contradictions, cobbled together across a millennium or so of varying oral cultic traditions, and he’s trying to come up with a single narrative structure that reconciles them all.

    You can see his approach to getting all the different stories to line up in how the tone of characters has shifted. The first book had avenging young badass Zeus; the most recent volumes have him more harried and put-upon by the responsibilities of running a very fractious family. He’s managed to bring these deities down to a human level¹, which I expect to lead to great things in the next volume — Hermes has become, over the last few books, a smartass verging on bro with a side of complete dick. It’s gonna be hilarious.

  • Lucy Bellwood was my first stop of the morning, and we spoke about tying Turk’s head knots, about whether or not the US Coast Guard training vessel USS Eagle counts as a tall ship (Bellwood: It totally does), and about the Riso demo station that was set up at the far end of the hall. I always flatter myself that I have a feeling of what autobio comickers are like before I meet them, but in Bellwood’s case that intuition was pretty much dead on. She’s a woman that loves the open water, lines in her hand, sheets filled with wind above her head.
  • Brigid Alverson always make vague plans to meet up at shows we’ll both be at, and never follow through. This is never a problem, because we invariably bump into each other at some point and get caught up then. This time it was coming out of the diversity panel, and we spent a pleasant hour having lunch at the hotel bar, with Johanna Draper Carlson joining us. Less talk about comics, more about other stuff. If you ever meet Alverson, ask her to tell you her One Time It Was My Job To Keep Stephen Hawking Happy For A Couple Of Days At A Conference story. It’s great.
  • By the time we got back to the show floor from MoCCA, it had become a wall-to-wall sea of humanity; it was wonderful to see so many people there to search out new comics, but man! I made it back to Evan Dahm&rsquo’s table and managed to introduce him to Mark Siegel (his editor at :01 Books; they’d never met face to face); I have a suspicion that Dahm’s forthcoming Island Book (due early 2019) will be but the first of his collaborations with :01; they’re a perfect fit together.

    As I noted to Siegel, they have a full slate of books with tween or early teen girl protagonists who have adventures!, but they aren’t aimed at girl readers. They’re just aimed at kids of a certain age, and it’s a hell of a valuable thing for boys to read Zita The Spacegirl, or Time Museum, or Space Scouts, and see heroes that don’t look just like them. And what’s Island Book about? A tween or preteen girl (or equivalent, since we aren’t talking about humans here) protagonist that has adventures. Why should kids get all the girl heroes?

  • There was also a big push at the :01 table for the second Nameless City book from Faith Erin Hicks (The Stone Heart, and hey, look at that: tween or early teen girl co-protagonist that has adventures); today is its book birthday, and also the announcement that the trilogy will become an animated series. We’ll give that the full attention it deserves tomorrow.
  • Sadly, the crowd prevented me from making it back to aisle H, and a print that I saw early in the day and had wanted to purchase. It’s by a young woman named Olga Andreyeva, and it was the result of an accidental pigment spill that she turned into something really unique and beautiful. The rest of her portfolio is great, but the sort of thing that others are doing — videogame-inspired art of great imagination and technical skill, but familiar.

    Eve is spare, conveys a sense of frozen time, and delivers an emotional wallop. It’s absolutely the best thing I saw on the floor this year, and I’m very sorry I didn’t get back to purchase it. Hopefully a few of you go take a look at it (not to mention the rest of her portfolio) and Andreyeva gets more than just my missed sale out of it.

Spam of the day:

This new kitty litter is like having a veterinarian check daily! IT AUTOMATICALLY TURNS DIFFERENT COLORS BASED ON PREVENTABLE HEALTH ISSUES!

On the Top Ten List of things I want to do ever, checking out rainbow-colored magic kitty litter appears approximately zero times.

¹ Not that any religion has ever invented gods that really behaved better than their worshippers.

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