This year’s MoCCA Arts Festival, an annual gathering focused on graphic novel publishing held April 7-8 at the Metropolitan West event space on West 46th Street, registered a sharp increase in exhibitors and fans and the show continues to push the limits of space at the venue.
Anelle Miller, executive director of the Society of Illustrators, which organizes the MoCCA show, said attendance was about 10% higher than last year’s show which attracted about 7,000 fans over the course of the weekend.
“International exhibitors really have grown—the show featured cartoonists from Israel and Taiwan for the first time. We have high schools exhibiting this year as well as more colleges,” she said, taking note of art and design departments from Washington University, MICA, SVA, Parsons, FIT, Kutztown and Syracuse among others.
“MoCCA is able to focus on artists and comics, and we’ve got a diverse group,” she said. More photographs from the show can be found here.
The show has grown from 400 exhibiting artists last year to more than 500 this year, Miller said. The exhibition floor was jammed each day of the show. At one point, Miller said, fire marshals had to stop fans from entering the building until the crowds decreased.
“I love this venue but space is tight. We need a bigger venue but It will be tough to find a suitable place,” she said.
Among the special guests and exhibiting artists were New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast (Going Into Town), Argentine artist Liniers (Good Night Planet), First Second editorial director and acclaimed cartoonist Marc Siegel (who was interviewed onstage by Toon Books publisher Françoise Mouly), Jaime Hernandez (Dragon Slayer), Jennifer Camper, Nicole Georges, Anna Haifisch, and French artist Yvan Alagbé (Yellow Negroes) and from Belgium, Dominique Goblet (Pretending is Lying).
Organized by Bill Kartalopoulos, programming and panels included a discussion between National Book Foundation director Lisa Lucas, Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, the creative team that produced Rep. John Lewis’s March Trilogy, the NBA-winning graphic memoir of the Civil Rights Movement.
Most publishers contacted by PW seemed happy with sales and MoCCA featured lots of signings and artists appearances. Among artists on the floor, Ben Passmore, creator of the acclaimed mini-comic Your Black Friend, a thoughtful examination of racial blindspots among white liberals and bohemians, was at the table of his publisher, Silver Sprocket, a small press house in San Francisco. Passmore’s original periodical comic has been expanded into Your Black Friend and Other Strangers, a hardcover edition collecting the original story in addition to a number of Passmore’s past comics on a variety of activist and political issues as well as some of his early fiction.
Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman previewed a slate of forthcoming nonfiction graphic works, including Run, a sequel to Rep. John Lewis’ March trilogy coming in August (with cowriter Aydin and a new artist, Afua Richardson); and Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem’s Legendary Theater, a graphic history written by Ted Fox with art by James Otis Smith.
NBM publisher Terry Nantier noted exceptional sales and interest in a number of titles: The Provocative Collette by Anne Goetzinger, a graphic biography of the legendary female author (and the last work by Goetzinger who died near the end of 2017); Hasib The Queen of Serpents: A Tale of A Thousand and One Nights by David B.; and Satania by Kerascoet and Fabien Vehlmann, the story of a young scientist who sets out to prove the existence of Hell.
Actor John Lequizamo, setup at a table near the entrance, showed copies of Ghetto Klown, his 2015 graphic memoir from Abrams ComicArts, as well as Freak, a new, self-published autobiographical comic produced with Edgardo Miranda-Rodriquez (best known for his Latina superhero comic La Borinqueña).
Toon Books publisher Françoise Mouly was promoting celebrated comics artist Jaime Hernandez (Love Rockets) and his first work for children, The Dragon Slayer, a collection of Latin American folktales published simultaneously in English and Spanish language editions. Mouly also showed off advance copies of Ivan Brunnetti’s 3X4, which uses comics to introduce arithmetic to young readers; and We Are All Me by Jordan Crane, a beautifully rendered and quite remarkable picture book for young readers that manages to visually convey a sense of the connections across the biological world from the cellular level of the individual on through the vast range of human, animal and plant life.
Among the winners of the MoCCA Fest Awards, which are presented to artists for works displayed at the show, the gold winners are Feifei Ruan for “The Ban 2019” (Single Image), Freddie Carrasco for “Hot Summer NIghts” (Short Form), Diana Chu for “Sudden Death” (Special Format), and Linnea Sterte for ” Stages of Rot” (Long Form)