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Comic book conventions are often less about the comics and more about marketing cross-media franchises to masses of excited fans. While The Avengers and The Dark Knight are worthwhile entertainments for comic fans, the MoCCA Fest has a different take on the Comic Con. One with fewer movie trailers, video game demos, and claustrophobia-inducing crowds.
The 10th Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Fest was held last weekend in Manhattan. Noisy booths blasting clips from the latest superhero movie were nowhere to be seen. Cosplayers were rare, as were booth babes. What the MoCCA Fest does have each year is the chance to meet the artists and writers behind indie comics, web comics and European comic books.
Wolverine and Batman can be found if one looks hard enough, but it’s easier to find characters who have yet to reach mainstream awareness, or discover critical darlings that will never hit the mainstream at all, despite their merits. It’s also an opportunity to find something new, or maybe say “Hello” to the creators of a favorite webcomic without having to wait in line for an hour.
Panels also tend to be a bit different from some of the bigger cons. Few movie stars will be found, but many familiar names to fans of indie comics. Highly specialized events were available, like “A Nordic Roundtable” that focused on Northern European artists. One panel that was particularly entertaining was Carousel, which had comic creators narrate their own comics while a team of actors provided voice overs for the characters live onstage.
The MoCCA Fest also gives out the“Klein Award”, named after Lawrence Klein who founded the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art. Each year it honors “An artist whose work has elevated the comic art form”. This year’s winner was the highly prolific artist Gary Panter who won three Emmy’s as production designer on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, among many other credits. Panter joins previous recipients including Jules Feiffer, Art Spiegelman, Bill Plympton and others.
The MoCCA Fest is an annual affair and will be back in the years ahead. It’s a fund-raising event for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art which is open all year round, with regular events. More about the upcoming exhibits and events at the museum can be found on MoCCA’s website, and information about next year's MoCCA Fest will be available on the separate MoCCA Fest website.