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April 6, 2014

A Few Notes From The MoCCA Festival 2014 Floor

imageBy Joe McCulloch

* I skipped last year's transitional show, so I can honestly say MoCCA seems a lot more excited and energetic, although I guess that has to be read in comparison to the 2012 edition, where people were on the floor, openly asking "what's the point?"

* I joke a lot about the Charlie Brown balloon, but it does serve the purpose of simply filling the yawning upper space of the armory so that it doesn't feel so much like a local wrestling venue.

* There was a genuine sense of danger coming from the cafe area in the back of the show floor, in that everyone wound up browsing the aisles with open cups of coffee. One errant shoelace and some of the more marginal publishers were going out of business, along with -- depending on the disposition of the exhibitor -- potentially your face.

* As with last year -- so I've read -- everything on the floor was partitioned with Lynchian red curtains. There was also a gift shop set aside on the show floor -- the purpose of which was unclear -- and a little gallery of original art. The four Joost Swarte pieces hanging were my favorites: ink & watercolors all, looking like they were printed off the internet, they were so goddamned immaculate.

* Charging $5.00 for the program not only meant I did not buy the program, but that I had to stop someone else from just taking one and leaving, assuming they were free. Just call me Joe Dredd.

* The line for admission stretching down the street at 2:00 PM on Saturday was mostly due to a somewhat limited (if quite efficient) corps of wristband-sellers. The show floor did not seem especially crowded until maybe 4:00 or 4:30. Several exhibitors remarked that the crowd was not the same you get at SPX and CAB, where apparently you see a lot of the same people, despite the geographical dispersion. Whether this crowd was buying anything varied from table to table.

* I asked this one exhibitor if he took credit cards. He said no, but I could just PayPal him the funds if I wanted. So I stood there on one side of the table, tapping away at my phone, and he stood on the other, checking his phone to see if the payment went through. "This is strangely intimate," he remarked.

image* I've always associated MoCCA with an international flavor, dating back to the years when Bries would be selling Olivier Schrauwen and Frédéric Coché books at the Puck Building. It wasn't quite a United Nations this year, but simply having Frémok around was invaluable. There was some Swedish and (I think) Finnish presence too, and, of course, Joost Swarte, who proved himself most elusive, though I confess I did not reserve a ticket to his event, where I could no doubt see him fine.

* Coché was behind the Frémok table basically all day, however. I saw his name tag, but as a means of introduction I asked "are you Frédéric?" There was an unbroken pause of five or six seconds as everyone stared at me before Coché replied "yes."

* I'm told Frémok only brought 15 or so copies of their Angouleme prize-winning Cowboy Henk collection, which was odd, because I saw copies moving around the room and people talking. It might just have been the people I was talking to, however, who basically would be the types to declare a resolutely Not In English comic the book of the show, which -- I'd not want people to blind-buy a book like that and then feel like they'd wasted their money chasing some trend with a comic they can't entirely read. I feel like I need to chase my enthusiasm for Cowboy Henk with half a dozen disclaimers, starting with the fact that before the show I spent eight dollars on a magazine titled Golf Comic which is comprised of Japanese-language comics about golf.

* Anyway, my choice for book of the show is Cowboy Henk.

image* Also, I was quite taken by the issues of Collection Revue I saw at the Rebus table. Bill Kartalopoulos has contributed to that magazine, so he's maybe not an unbiased source or anything, but the two editions on sale were very handsome, high-quality packages, in French and English, conversing in detail with artists on the subject of drawing. Many, many images too, including some full stories. I'd recommend issue #2, with Yuichi Yokoyama, Gary Panter, CF, Killoffer and others.

* In the end, I'm a bad person to ask about whether or not a show is "good." I've found that I mostly go to these events with a pretty specific plan of what to see anymore, and while I do budget for surprises, I kind of assure myself a fulfilling time. I am very ambivalent about the designation of journalism, because I think a responsible, challenging, superior journalist should do a lot of things I don't. I only ever crossed the floor once, because I stopped to shoot the breeze far too much. But I live in a cornfield, so that too is why I go.


Joe McCulloch is the fine critical writer about comics, mostly at TCJ, who has made more than a few readers of this site wonder why CR still even tries to do its own "new comics Wednesday" column (you've thought it, too). He did this article in exchange for a donation to Stan And Sharon Sakai, which I greatly appreciate. He is also the best on podcasts.

posted 5:55 pm PST | Permalink

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