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June 8, 2009

Second-Hand MoCCA 2009 Report

A few notes copied from other people's work, just like a 7th grade algebra test, on the 2009 MoCCA Festival.

* there were apparently a couple of major administrative screw-ups, surprising for a show that has run this many years. First, the Museum was late in distributing the various packages for which it had taken responsibility to the folks who needed them, which caused a significant delay in the show's first-day opening. As I recall, there was talk about not offering this option of delivery from the museum to the show, which seems in retrospect a hesitancy that had some merit whether or not it would have been an overall good. Anyway, not getting books distributed on time so that the place can't open is something I've never heard of at any show, and it needs to be recognized as such no matter how much people like the show.

* second, it seems from what I'm hearing that the delay was not communicated to either the vendors nor the people waiting in line in a consistent, helpful fashion, leading some to believe that the show had started and was simply going slowly, others confused as to when and if programming was going to shift its schedule and if so to what extent, and various people in line frustrated. I've heard that mitigating this was a discount offered to some line sufferers at the door and the promise to keep the show open a bit later. The show's general reputation for bottle-necking may have kept some people away until mid-afternoon, easing some difficulties.

* there were minor administrative snafus as well, as might be expected, and rumors that some exhibitors may not have been able to make it at all for whatever reason surfaced when folks spotted empty tables.

* the new location received mostly positive reviews, especially given the tendency for comics fans to be overly nostalgic for past experiences, both the deserving and the dubious. "I remember when James Kochalka rode up the stairs to his panel on the back of a giant cockroach; it was great." Most folks appreciated there being room for everyone in the central space, though, the same way that SPX expanded a couple of years back, and I would think as an attendee not to have to deal with the fuss of seeking people out would make for a more pleasant experience. I like hide and seek and I like comic conventions; I'm not sure about hide and seek comic conventions. Another element you see surface in folks' appraisals is that this was an easier location for many to get to in the first place, which makes a difference for folks traveling from the immediate area as well as from all the way out of town.

* a few folks have expressed astonishment that this venue was also not air conditioned, as some had assumed that a move to a new location would have somehow involved engaging or even solving the biggest complaint about the old location. As Evan Dorkin points out, the Festival was really lucky with weather in the late 70s and early 80s -- a 100 degree scorcher might have been a small catastrophe. I think it's okay if they expect vendors and attendees to deal with some heat if that's the cost of doing business in New York, or something like that, but I would imagine there's a limit, or at least some expectation of engagement with the issue. I think this will cost them some business if it's in the same place next year on what people expect to be a hotter day or if people have to worry about bringing folks with them. I also think because no one was hurt or made ill people should make as many variations of "MoCCA is going to move the show again for 2010: into the middle of a giant bonfire" joke this year while it's harmless to do so.

* in general, Saturday business was apparently strong to extremely strong; Sunday business was maybe not as strong.

* this picture of Alex Robinson made me laugh, and usually those posed ones don't. I also liked the image in words from Alex's con report of his sitting in the park with his family and not really wanting to go back. A couple of people e-mailed me this morning to say they're doing a movie of his Too Cool To Be Forgotten, so that's nice.

* in a major shocker, the various comics folk in attendance all enjoyed hanging out and selling comics and meeting readers and doing business and then socializing after the shows in several different locations. Imagine! I mention that because the entertainment factor is often used as a foam-covered stick to bash anything that might be said in negative fashion about any show: "Everybody had a great time; shut up!" Whereas I would imagine that everyone would have a great time seeing one another and hanging out and drinking and eating and talking comics and socializing even if they spent the day doing squat thrusts in hamster costumes as Jerry Robinson banged out time on a giant drum.

* an element of Becky Cloonan's note caught my eye: less in the ways of arts and crafts, more in the way of comics.

* Bodega Distribution surprised everyone by debuting Kazimir Strzepek's second Mourning Star collection, which people greeted with such delight that it helped the volume became a top contender for book of show. (I imagine it being really good helped considerably, too.) This was definitely a sneak attack: I still can't find even a single mention of that book on-line. Top Shelf went a different direction by unveiling a surprise guest in Renee French, a move that was also received in positive fashion. Who doesn't like Renee French? The upshot is that no one is going to provide any details about next year's show. I was personally surprised by news of such a strong webcomics faction, but I imagine other people did know about it and that it's a boon for the show whether I'm up on it or not.

* it doesn't look like anyone would object to calling this year's version David Mazzucchelli's show, either, what with the long-awaited Asterios Polyp out and the retrospective at MoCCA location prime.

* the cartoonist Cheese Hasselberger points out that prices for an early-bird table 2010 were raised to $400, which might make one think that full-price tables may garner $500 or thereabouts.

* so it looks like it was a fairly successful show, despite the problems noted up top. A "Collective Memory" entry will run in the 10 AM slot all week. If you're short on time, two pro summaries I liked on my power read this morning where Cloonan's and Robinson's. The outside-in reports I liked best were The Daily Cross Hatch's and Sean T. Collins'. I'm sure there will be many more.
posted 10:10 am PST | Permalink

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