On Friday I was wondering if the new center aisle configuration would work at MoCCA Fest and it turns out, it sure did. You walked up the stairs and into the hall, jogged around the Society of Illustrators table (perhaps taking the time to marvel the surprisingly short line for Fiona Staples) and there you had it in front of you — an aisle designed purely for travel, with access to nearly the entire show floor. It was brilliant, as long as you didn’t get caught up in any of the mooring lines for Charlie Brown.
Speaking of, Charlie Brown was not the best thing above eye-level in the hall — it was the navigational signs that were found at each end of each rank of tables, which made getting around the show trivially simple one you realized one little thing: the booth numbers on each signpost represented both sides of a fabric divider line. I’m pretty sure that one small change to the signs (maybe a horizontal variation on the u-turn symbol) and they’ll be perfect.
One could argue that the signs weren’t even really needed in a venue as small as the 69th Regiment Armory, but you know what? Nobody’s ever done signposting this well before, in a large venue or a small one, and maybe now we’ll see more shows taking up the idea. Yeah, it’ll take some detail-oriented planning, but dang was it a nice touch.
Speaking of detail-oriented planning, I want to recognize Neil Dvorak of Easy Pieces Comic for putting together the best table design I’ve ever seen. Nothing about the look-and-feel of table C8 existed but that it provided the impression that you were in Dvorak’s world now, and everything beyond his immediate proximity was the noise of the outside world and wouldn’t you rather be here where it’s nice and civilized?
It worked on me, and I was happy to pick up a packet of his individual, brief, conceptually linked comics and associated ephemera, which have left me with the impression of a documentary work looking at an askew world of bizarre happenings, corporation/cults, and one man’s search for sense in it all. If Welcome to Night Vale was crossed with a ’50s-era social hygiene film and existed in craft paper envelopes, it would look like Easy Pieces.
So that was my big discovery of the show. Along the way I was lucky enough to talk with some terrific creators about what they’re doing; this list includes (but is not limited to):
- Noelle Stevenson had a stack of the debut issue of Lumberjanes, in advance of the official launch this week. It’s great book.
- Tom Siddell came all the way to America and had a continuous stream of people bringing his (very large, very heavy, thus he didn’t bring any himself to sell) books to be signed, and to purchase his minis and artwork. If you missed out on your chance to see him, he’s got a meet-up tomorrow night in Manhattan. You’ll know it’s him because he looks exactly like his avatar.
- Magnolia Porter’s Sugar Crash mini is funny and heartfelt, and perfectly in keeping with her work on Monster Pulse. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Porter writes early teens better than anybody else in webcomics, because they reflect the fact that growing up isn’t a matter of age, it’s a matter of practice.
Her characters try, and they fail more than they succeed, and sometimes they’re stupid and sometimes they’re mean (and they know that they shouldn’t be and don’t want to be, and yet it still happens) and slowly they become somebody new. Siddell and John Allison and damn good, but Porter is the best. The only thing that would make Monster Pulse better at what it’s trying to do would be an easily-found link to her store on the main page.
- Evan Dahm is approaching the end of Book 2 material for Vattu, but his next project will more likely be his illustrated Wizard of Oz project. Scott C has a new book releasing in a few months, Hug Machine; it’ll be his first children’s book as both writer and artist, and it looks terrific. David McGuire is approaching the point in the story when he can give us a new Gastrophobia collection.
- Box Brown has now signed his first copy of Andre The Giant: Life and Legend, mine to be precise. He’s starting to the feel the excitement in the run-up to release in a month, and expressed his appreciation for his editor at :01 Books — It was a big help to have somebody that doesn’t know wrestling to point out what would be confusing to ordinary people.
- Speaking of :01 Books, Gina Gagliano expressed the excitement that everybody is feeling over Scott McCloud’s next book, due out sometime next year. I bumped into Colleen Venable on the floor and thanked her for being my favorite book designer¹ and she very kindly gifted me a copy of the last book in her Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye series because she is awesome.
- Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell’s print version is in the process of being manufactured, which is the only reason I didn’t buy a copy from Sophie Goldstein; I did get the chance to talk to her about how unsettling I found her contribution to The Sleep of Reason. Seriously creepy, people.
- Ben Costa and Phil McAndrew were kind enough to sign books of theirs that I brought with me (as did Siddell; Dahm, Stevenson, and C signed their illustrations in my copy of To Be Or Not To Be — three down, a zillion to go).
- Jaya Saxena, Matt Lubchansky, and Maki Naro seemed to be having more fun than anybody else on the floor. There’s a lack of awkwardness and effort that I observed in them talking with people who both sought them out and those who casually wandered by; even those in the convention grind for a decade may not have mastered that skill, or find that it requires considerable effort. Somehow, they’ve managed to become comics creators (that most solitary of endeavours) without losing the trappings of sociability; this must be stopped before they accidentally destroy comics.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that I ran into Brigid Alverson and Johanna Draper Carlson — two of my favorite people on the ink-stained wretch side of things — outside the Armory and we took some pictures together. After that, I completely missed seeing them again on the floor. Oddly enough, I’ve never met up with either Brigid or Johanna by intention; we always just seem to bump into each other, which is part of how I know it’s going to be a good show. Ladies, it’s always a pleasure.
¹ Of all the things I never thought I’d have a “favorite” of, but dang if her work for :01 Books doesn’t grab me and make me want to read inside.