So the MoCCA Art Fest was held over the weekend, and at the end of it, I think everybody had a collective sigh of relief. The heat and organizational problems that plagued last years show didn’t recur. The crowds moved easily and, from the webcomics folks I spoke to, were eager to snap up stuff. The show was a success, and much fun was had, and I got a bunch of stuff. Let’s recap, shall we?
- For me, one of the big thrills was meeting people that I hadn’t before — Jess Fink, Yuko Ota & Ananth Panagariya, Dorothy Gambrell were awesome to make the acquaintance of (whoo, tortured syntax, but I think you take my meaning), and only after I’d left did I realize that I’d missed meeting Andrew Hussie — dang. I also enjoyed meeting more of the crew from :01 Books, because I think they’re putting out the best line of graphic novels in existence right now — thanks to Gina Gagliano for putting me on their distribution list, and to Colleen AF Venable for designing such good-looking books.
- Speaking of Ms Venable, she’s got her own book out now — Hamster & Cheese, the first of a series of six kids books starring a reluctant guinea pig PI, and illustrated by the mightily talented Stephanie Yue. I learned a lot about snakes from the notes in the back of the book, including the following critical information:
If snakes slowly dissolve their food, does this mean they don’t poop? Nope! Snakes poop. They don’t poop very often. When they do — how can I say this nicely? It’s a bit watery. [emphasis original]
Not only informative, Hamster & Cheese is likely the best kids book of the show in a particular category; I don’t know if publishers have a fancy words for this, but H&C is laid out more like a short graphic novel than anything — panels, word balloons, the works.
- For traditional kids book (whole-page illustrations, text narrating the events), you’d have to go with the very handsome Golden Books tribute, Tigerbuttah by Beck Dreistadt & Frank Gibson. Full disclosure: I was (am?) a Kickstarter supporter of this book, so assume that I was inclined to like it anway. Fact of the matter is, reading this thing is a kick in the childhood nostalgia gland — pokey little puppies and engines that could start swirling in your brain just holding this thing, and seeing the way that the ink looks on the paper stock would drag anybody back to those first experiences of reading on your very own. This book is a marvel, plain and simple, and anybody in the creative industries with any measurable amount of brain should be driving a dumptruck full of money up to Frank & Becky’s front door.
- Weirdly enough, I got a very similar reaction from reading David McGuire’s The 12 Labours of Gastrophobia, even though it could hardly be more different that Tigerbuttah; I think it’s the smell, actually — the aroma of ink and paper is very reminiscent of the books I had as a kid, and the use of white paper with red and black inks also reminds me of the limited color palettes that were the hallmark of books for so very long.
More than merely dredging out 35 year old memories, McGuire’s choice of color serves him very well, as it makes the entire book look like it could have been drawn on amphorae. As a bonus, there’s an index in the back so you can see which pages were originally animated online, or where webcomics cameos are to be found. He’s also done the best job I’ve ever seen presenting a back-cover bar code.
- Elsewhere, Aaron Diaz had the haunted look of a man that didn’t get nearly enough food or bathroom breaks, mixed with the happy realization that it was because he was swamped with fans wanting his wares. His 2010 sketchbook offers a good look at his (previously seen on Twitter) inspired-by-Tolkien speed paintings (each featuring dominant colors that really resonate emotionally), and news that Dresden Codak will feature more of the Tokamak twins gladdens my heart.
- Just across the aisle, Hope Larson‘s newly-released Mercury was going great guns, and Box Brown‘s Everything Dies #1 & #2 offered up a primer on a pretty wide range of metaphysical beliefs. Jon Rosenberg had an advanced copy of his forthcoming third volume of Goats, which featured the funniest foreword I’ve ever read, courtesy of Lore Sjöberg.
- To all of this one may add the always-delightful presences of (in no particular order) Chris Yates, Ryan North, Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman (from whom, we now know, there will not be a second volume of X-Men: Misfits, victim of an expired license), Chris Hastings & Carly Monardo (the latter now in a starring role in the new print from Bernie Hou), R Stevens, Sam Brown, Magnolia Porter, Andy Bell, David Malki !, Scott C, Danielle Corsetto (not showing, just wandering the floor and enjoying herself), Kate Beaton, Jeph Jacques (counting the days until C2E2 is done and he can bring home his new dog), various NERDS, Jeff Rowland (who put together the new Axe Cop store at TopatoCo with his laptop and phone on the ride to New York because we are living in the goddamned future), Jen Babcock (who recently did a talk at The Met pointing out that a form of ancient Egyptian popular art was essentially comics in general and Five Card Nancy in particular) and generally more talent than one can shake a stick at, which is why I’m certain that I’ve forgotten half the names I meant to include here, because I wasn’t writing things down. Mea culpa.
Additional photos: My “beards & moustaches” sketchbook grows ever closer to full, with a gorgeous addition from Hope Larson; Dave Roman does the world’s first SFW moustache ride; Kimiko Ross discovers new feelings; a T-Rex grows his beard long enough to stroke with his tiny arms; teenage Raina finds something worse than headgear; and Chester 5000 XYV sprouts a new attachment.