MoCCA

Having set up the table way before everyone else, we hard working Australians went to prepare ourselves for big event #1, MoCCA. I had been here 10 years before by myself at a litte card table so it was awesome to be BACK with a major posse as we were this year. We checked out the shindig at the brain popping Desert Island in Brooklyn, which had Jason, Tom Gauld and Matthew Forsythe doing a signing but was rammed and sweaty. How sweaty? This sweaty…

The armoury building is huge and there was a lot of great stuff there, we noticed as we came back in an hour before opening. Some folk had crafted intricate little dioramas, some had fancy banners and lots had beautiful books. A large percentage of people there were from New York or nearby, and there was a mix of real publishers and self-publishers. We were over in the far left corner – the exact opposite side of the room to the large Scandinavian contingent, who were the only group bigger than me, and I was naturally in my all-things-Nordic current state of fixation keen to meet. So here’s the room full of people…

Here’s me and the lovely Jen Breach (turning the wrong way and not shifting units!)…

And here’s a far away view of me manning my post…

Being at a comic festival is a lot like running a market stall but you desperately want to go run around and check out other stalls. I managed to do this a bit on the first day and saw the Nordic panel (couldn’t go up and meet them on the first day as i was wearing a viking t-shirt and this seemed like going up to an Australian table with a toy koala and saying “g’day I make up shit about your country!) and the digital comics panel with Evan Dahm and the Comixology founder – revelations: digital comics aren’t going to destory print and will probably help it become the paper fetish object it should be. At the stall I got my sales pitch down pat “It’s like a heavy metal Asterix” and met a surprising number of Nordic based folk who liked the book. Lots of great folk came by the stall, including comics journos like Jimmy Aquino, Ustralian (plus read this nice piece they wrote on us) and Reid Harris Cooper; the Nords, Karen Green from Columbia University who bought everyone’s books and put them in the Columbia University graphic novel collection; Harvey Pekar’s missus; and the awesome Gina from First Second books. Also bumped into this old mug…

Time flew by both days – you are constantly talking, selling, drawing, doing laps for another purchase or swap and trying to find the things you will never see again. There were a lot of mixed feelings about it – some felt that the festival has lost its soul and the Brooklyn comics’ fest is where it’s at now; certainly you were never really greeted by the organisers or were there any organised exhibitor only parties, like at TCAF. However it’s still an event on the calendar, it’s in frickin New York and it’s a super hero-less comic convention so you can’t complain too hard. Lotsa folk turned up despite the $15 entry fee and bought loads of comics. The Beat did a great wrap up of some of the top buys, and the listed the Caravan’s Dave Blumenstein! (plus you should read Dave’s take on events here – he writes in a more organised fashion than I) There were some incredible self published works there which I wish I could list but all the books I bought I have sent back to Sydney. Pat was getting a big zine-on and kept returning with arms loads of tiny little hand stitched, risographed numbers – I think Scaffold took the cake as most beautiful self published work there…

and for my money The Pterodactyl Hunters (in the Gilded City) from Top Shelf by Brendan Leach was exactly the right book for MoCCA – Cost ten bucks, beautiful drawings and was massive printed on newsprint. Quite a few newsprint numbers popping up around the shop.

Daniel Johnston launched a comic there and played at the party on Saturday night, which was totally rammed and I’m not sure if he rally enjoyed it. I went out drinking with the bad ass Sean Pryor and after leaving Dean Haspiel in some tiny, dark Bruce Springsteen bourbon diner den went to the totally awesome Otto’s Shrunken Head. It’s a fully fitted out tiki bar and there was a big Psychobilly night on. I saw this awesome band which all wore these John Carpenter masks and had so much reverb you couldnt understand anything they said.

And then boom, come Sunday afternoon it was all over after two fast paced days. The Armoury emptied, tables were packed up and we lugged our treasures back to the flat to figure out how we were going to deal with them. The rest of the gang drew postcards as we were supposed to do, but I dragged Ben Hutchings over to Brooklyn to a metal bar called St Vitus to watch the premiere of the next season of Metalocalypse. Highlights: being there, meeting a lot of interested customers, learning how t write my name in Norwegian plus some actual viking facts (plus some lies courtesy of Danish Lars), “the Aussies” all got some attention, I met Mikel Sommer right in the last 15 minutes and getting our books in mofo Columbia University. After this we had two last days in New York to do whatever it was we needed to do, before the Caravan hit the road proper.

NEW YORK BONUS ROUND

So the aforementioned Jimmy Aquino invited me to a live recording of the 400th Comics News Insider podcast up at the Hour Glass Tavern. The invite said Paul Pope, Becky Cloonan, Self Made Hero, Ben Templesmith and more would be there so I was like “guys we gotta go!” assuming it would be this big spacious tavern with a radio booth. I dragged Greg and “the Hawk” up 5 flights of stairs to what a tiny room with 5 chairs in it and ten guests. We promptly retreated to the bar downstairs for beers and sliders (cheeky little burgers – like burgers you can have between burgers) and waited for it to start proper. The first half hour was in-jokes and such, then the interviews started which was cool but then after I’d been back for more beers and had a great chat with Mr Pope and stolen one of Ms Cloonan’s cheeseburgers, the guys on the mike pulled out a copy of Lars and called me up for an interview. Greg gave me a “did you plan this?” look and I went up and did my thing and sat down afterwards with a big old grin. So you can hear it here, warning it’s 2 hours and I’m right at the end. The night descended into whiskeys and that fast blur after anticipation is paid off in trumps, conversation becomes strong and passionate and it all ends too soon. Back at the flat we had an awesome conversation I can’t remember, but that great feeling that we had totally done New York with a big fat tick.

Then it was time to get our ass to Penn Station the next morning…

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