Wednesday, April 14, 2010
MoCCA 2010. Not a bad time.
A low key festival. Good times, good times. No, seriously. It was a good show. Hat’s off to MoCCA for smoothing out the wrinkles from last year.
I had a full table of, ahem, curated comic book back issues for sale. Part of my ongoing “education project” in the comics community. Trying to steer the youth in the right direction. I just can’t stand idly by and not extol the virtues of a Frank Thorne comic or a Pat Boyette comic when a youngster peruses the Master’s Box that I lovingly assembled. I go into my glib salesman routine and “sell” them on the idea of looking at comics in a different way. MoCCA, the festival, may be about small press comics but my whole shtick is about history. And tradition. And selling comics, and making money, sure, but also about small press roots in newsstand and direct market comics, in fandom. So I assemble a ton of comics that are sorted through and re-presented as mini artist monographs. My own Art Out of Time.
And it works. I can tell you that I have a much wider and diverse customer base than I did when I was only selling comics that I made at these shows. My comics are just mixed in with all the other comics I’m selling. I saw people flip through Cold Heat just like they did any other comic in the bins. Somehow that was rewarding in and of itself. Mostly because it takes the pressure of me the creator and maker. Secretly, it’s cuz I hate looking like one of those poor schlubs who stands behind his table and tries to earnestly sell his comic. My back issues sell themselves. Folks see those white comics boxes from across the aisle and they seem to get caught in some kind of tractor beam. They come right over.
And it creates an instant conversation. Instead of talking about my work, we’re talking about some other comic, one outside of both of us, marveling at the way some narrative unfolds. And as corny as it sounds an instant community sets up tent around my table. There’s a good vibe. We’re all talking comics. And isn’t that what these festivals are all about? Community form as commodity form.
Something unexpected happened when I was hawking a Marshall Rogers Scorpio Rose comic. The guy who colored the comic thirty years ago was standing right in front of me. “Is that issue #2? I colored that.” Joseph D’Esposito in the flesh. We immediately launched in to esoteric coloring language and I was in heaven. How awesome is that? Here’s some comic I’ve been pushing on people for years because of the coloring and then the guy walks up to my table at a show. We agreed to do an interview, so look forward to that one, True Believers, in the weeks to come.
I was stuck behind the table all day Saturday except for when I had a panel. The panel was about “Line and Color,” and it was with Dash Shaw and Bill K. The audience seemed pretty into it. In theory, there is a video or an audio recording but I know Dash’s tape recorder conked out halfway through. We’ll be posting something here on CC soon enough. Thanks to everyone who came to the panel. I gotta admit it’s unnerving to do a panel on color with David Mazzucchelli in the audience, haha.
I want to write a long list of shout-outs to all the old friends I saw and talked to but that would take forever. Plus I thought I’d try to write some kind of report that reflected something beyond the social networking of a festival like this. The thing that was rewarding to me about this year’s show is that there really does seem to be a critical mass forming around small press or alternative comics. I saw lots of new authors and fans that I’ve never seen before at this year’s show. It felt to me completely different than the “clubbiness” that existed at MoCCA shows in like 2004 or something. Like we all know each other now and aren’t fighting for the tiny audience that is going to buy comics. The audience is growing and I think it was evident at this year’s show more so than in the past. Does that make sense? How can I qualify that? I can’t. Just a feeling.
It was also rewarding to have interactions with folks I’ve known for years at these things but don’t know well. It’s genuinely rewarding. Just talking comics; talking shop. I spent a half hour talking to an old guy in a fedora who knew much of the same obscure ’80s comics history that I’m fascinated with. Then there was the woman from England on the phone with her son trying to figure out what Cold Heat comics he has. I got on the phone with him and set him straight. That kind of shit you just don’t get sittin’ at home in front of the computer doing “e-commerce,” so thanks MoCCA. I had a good show.
Below is the swag people gave to me or things I traded for. Please enjoy. Didn’t include links because that would be too much work. If there’s an artist you’re interested in, do a search and check ‘em out. Thanks.