I just got back from New York City yesterday, where I had gone to the MoCCA Art Fest this past weekend. Here are some things that were, as they say, rather enjoyable:
1. Sharing a "Pod" hotel room with Jim Ottaviani, with whom Kevin and I are working on a book (and with whom we worked on Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards). The room had a sink, a bunkbed, and an air conditioner (luckily). It did not have a bathroom. There were four bathrooms in the hallway, and we shared them with everyone else on the floor. That would be inconvenient except for a few minor details: The bathrooms and rooms were clean, attractive, and modern, the rooms were relatively inexpensive, and best of all, there were four little lights above our door that showed which bathrooms were occupied. Slick!
Jim and I had a fine time. A lot of science and comic talk. No pillow fights. No hair braiding or toenail painting. And I got the top bunk.
2. Meeting Ryan North
), Jeffrey Rowland
), and David Malki
) in the internet cartoonists corner. I also saw, but did not speak to for whatever reason, Meredith Gran
). These are four of my favorite internet comics, and I read them every day, or however often they post.
3. Talking with Howard Zimmerman, who packaged our last and next (but not current) book.
4. Evacuating the Puck Building during a fire alarm. No, actually, that was kind of a drag.
5. Bryan Lee O'Malley came by to get some comics. So did David Mazzucchelli (not pictured).
6. Kicking it with the extremely suspicious Stuart Moore.
The show seemed approximately the same, crowd- and commerce-wise, as last year, although I haven't asked around to compare notes. Jim Ottaviani, who is far more scientific than I, sold almost precisely all of the books he brought. How do you do
that? He said some gibberish about keeping sales records from previous years and only bringing that number of books, and... well, if it's going to be that complicated, you can count me out.
The bottom floor (rooms A, B, and C) were nice and cool despite the 104-degree heat outside, but the top floor (room S) had the visual benefit of beautiful sunlight streaming through the windows and skylight, and the physiological liability of making everyone up there feel like they were going to melt. I was lucky to be on the ground floor, but ol' Jim was upstairs, and to add to his misery, right outside the window was a billboard that flashed the ever-escalating temperature every five seconds.
I didn't have a lot of time to walk around the show, being the lone table-minder, but the vibe of the place and the work in it was that the middle has shifted in small press stuff away from indy-tinged genre stuff, ultra-painful autobiographical meditations, and art books, and toward funnier, more writer-centric, and shorter serialized work. Perhaps it's just the change, but this work seems very lively to me; it still has the heart of the previous generation of the small press, but seems more aware of its presentation. Serializing on the web makes reader reaction immediate, and this may quickly force these cartoonists to polish up their jokes and be more reader-friendly if they want to build an audience.
Best of all was packing up really fast and hustling over to get a table in the bar across the street. Only once a cold beer is in front of you can the healing truly begin.