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June 10, 2009

A Final Few Notes On Mocca 2009

* Jog's two-part report (first part, second part) should be read by anyone interested in the festival as a place to interact with comics. Not only does Jog fully admit the purchase of great comics is his primary reason for attending, but he even uses the fact that he's in New York to grab some books he wouldn't be able to get otherwise. A really fun report.

* a few major news/editorial-style pieces: Tucker Stone's comprehensive (scene, feel, books, administrative) report, Heidi MacDonald's full post on the show, Kiel Phegley's news report at CBR, the official story at PW, and streaming audio of the Panter/Santoro panel.

* the cartoonist Julia Wertz articulates a point of view worth considering:
I'm so sick of all the whining about MoCCA all over the internet. It's New York in the summer, it's gonna be hot. How that is relevant to any of the work actually premiering at MoCCA is beyond me. All this complaining about the elements really undermines the whole concept of people getting together to celebrate this industry. Now we all just look like a bunch of whiney bitches.
The answer to that criticism is pretty easy, though.

First, it wasn't just the heat. The heat just sort of got the conversation rolling. There's a variety of complaints out there: the show was delayed, there was a lack of effective communication during this delay, the facility reportedly had one garbage can, some people were confused by who was an official volunteer from the show, some people were confused by a wrist/badge system that was sort of used and sort of not used, the web site and general on-line presence for the show leans towards the pitiful, many creators have had a difficult time even getting listed and feel disrespected as a result, and there's no evidence of local press coverage or efforts towards independent PR before or after this iteration. I know what it looks like when people in comics are being goofy and complaining that they miss some element of an experience out of pure nostalgia, or when they're just being whiny: this isn't it.

Second, Sean T. Collins puts it best when he points out that knowing it's hot in New York and that there's traffic isn't really an excuse, it's an admission that these things should be known about and prepared for.

Third, the default mode for comics people is to be exploited and happy about it. Many people have bent over backwards to be sympathetic towards the people running the show, and most people have repeated over and over again that they felt the show was successful. But if you're going to be the main cog in someone else's fundraiser, it's not whiny or bitchy to expect a minimum standard for how you're treated. It's human and it's exhibiting a collective self-worth through muscles that people in comics almost never bother flexing. I'm glad for it.

Fourth, Tucker Stone reminds us near the end of his piece that a really hot show isn't a minor matter.

* in the end, it looks like the initial reaction got pretty close to what happened: a mostly successful show for most people, some real concerns about issues ranging from the heat to basic administrative effectiveness, and a general feeling at least on my part that MoCCA might pay serious attention to these concerns or risk losing momentum on what seems like an effective fundraiser soaked in the goodwill of its participants. The thing that's funny to me is that as much as those involved love MoCCA the Festival, that affection doesn't always transfer to MoCCA the Museum and in some cases there's no affection for the organizers at all. If there's not some serious attention paid to some of these concerns, I don't think it would take much for someone to start a competing show in a just-as-good location (or the same one! or a better one!), with a decent web presence, some attention to press, tables that cost more in line with other shows and a tiny bit of the money generated going back to the exhibitors in terms of making them bare-minimum comfortable and wanted. In fact, I think it's primarily decorum that is keeping this from being a serious consideration right this very moment.

* update: the thank-you letter from Ellen Abramowitz to exhibitors doesn't mention any of the problems except as "warm moments and other minor glitches." That it's been forwarded to me by disappointed recipients seems to suggest this may have been the wrong expression at this time. Its body:
"The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art wants to thank all of you for making the MoCCA Festival 2009 such a tremendous success. Once again, MoCCA Fest brought together some of the best and brightest creators in the world of graphic novels, comics, and animation.

"MoCCA thanks each and every one of you for both your participation and help in making the event so much fun for all. While we all recognize there were some warm moments and other minor glitches, we at the MoCCA will continue to work to make things better each year.

"On behalf of MoCCA, I want to thank all of you for being a part of a terrific weekend."
I would expect this is not the last word on the issue.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

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