Ever since the dawn of the new millennium, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art has hosted a yearly alternative comics festival. The eager, young newbies and seasoned, embittered pros show up to sell and autograph their comics, zines, prints, buttons, stuffed animals, T-shirts, and other similar creative wares. People meet up with internet friends for the first time and check in with their old art-school professors to either brag or complain about their careers. In most ways, it's not unlike any of the mass gatherings that are so popular nowadays. Everyone is looking to have a human connection and make money.
What originally legitimized the MoCCA Fest more than anything was its location, the vaunted Puck Building on Houston Street in New York City. With its tall ceilings and windows allowing natural light to stream in, the atmosphere was unlike any other comic convention in the country. Sadly the Puck Building stopped being available to MoCCA about five years ago, and the venue of the festival was changed to the Armory on Lexington. The new location had personality, but something was lost by hosting the event in the giant old gymnasium used by the National Guard's 69th Regiment.
Pictured above is the rapidly deflating Charlie Brown balloon that hung over last year's MoCCA like a horrible omen that threatened to blanket everyone in whatever those balloons are made out of. It bothered me so much I elected to not cover MoCCA for VICE because it was just too depressing.
This year marked the move to MoCCA's third festival home, a space on 23rd and 11th Avenue that involved climbing a narrow and treacherous staircase that spiraled upwards around a giant chasm-like drop. Once on the second floor the atmosphere was somewhere between the beauty of the original location and the peculiarity of the National Guard training center.
Related: Watch this VICE Meets with Johnny Ryan, who has drawn the back covers of VICE Magazine for the past ten years
It might seem trivial to discuss the building that MoCCA lives inside, but the building is the package that sells the Fest as legit or not. Comics are still a mostly disrespected and misunderstood medium and our materialistic culture can't understand beauty without opulent shows of class and wealth most of the time.
There was a nice display of original comic art by Aline Kominsky-Crumb, including this great collaborative cover by her and R. Crumb, one of the greatest geniuses of our time.
This is the famed Michael Kupperman, who draws funny and weird comics for Fantagraphics, including a fictional autobiography of Mark Twain, whom he occasionally performs in costume as. He may or may not begin doing comics for this very website soon.
This is Pat Dorian who is new and good and he draws things that have nice lines and pillowy dimensions.
All the art schools with illustration programs had a presence and were showing off their students' work. Parsons did a very "art-school" sign. There's a lot of potential and this sign is grabbing, but it's hard to make out what it says. I find that a lot of illustrators figure out drawing while in art school but only figure out composition and legibility afterward.
This is Tyler Boss, the hot new discovery of this year's MoCCA. His risograph comics are really beautiful stuff.
Here are the covers to Tyler Boss's books. Keep an eye out for his work.
This is perennial favorite and frequent VICE cartoonist and illustrator Patrick Kyle. He's holding up his new comic, New Comics.
This is Maya Bradford from Abrams Books showing off her wares. We got into a little talk about whether or not Ayn Rand can be considered a feminist icon since it seems like she didn't care about other people.
This is Kris Mukai, who is like a living Tina Belcher in both mannerisms and creative energy. She won a fancy trophy for making the best comic of MoCCA!
Pictured above are illustrative it-couple, Tina Lugo and Sabrina Elliott. They are both tearing up the internet with their art. Sabrina draws a lot of very pretty stuff. Tina's stuff is pretty, but is not for the erotically faint of heart.
This is the head of Jeffrey Lewis with his comic series Fuff. You might know him for his musical career and Crass cover-song album.
This woman offered me a Pop-Tart. This person also made one of the best mini-comics I've ever seen called MREH! I long for her to return to comics, but in the meantime a Pop-Tart is an acceptable substitute. Maybe MoCCA should become a comics and pastries festival.
Here is Killer Acid showing off his new comic about how everyone is just drawing familiar cartoons.
According to Killer Acid's new comic, I am the arbiter of success in the garbage art world.
Killer Acid makes his rent by selling all these dumb, pretty stickers and patches of pizza, pot leaves, skulls, Alf, and the other shit that everyone else is doing, but good.
Scott C. made this print of Coop vacuuming the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks. I liked this. You may know him as the lead designer from my favorite videogame Psychonauts, and other Doublefine games.
Famed small-press heroes Last Gasp Publishing were also there. I bought this instructional pamphlet about cat gun safety.
The best thing about the con was natural sunlight filling the room through windows like the one pictured here.
Here's my "Con haul" for those of you who get off on this.
I got Tintin: The Art of Herge and Adventure Time: The Art of OOO from Abrams, Borb by Jason Little, How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety, Holy Water by Koren Shadmi, Artists of Today, and a patch and a sticker from Killer Acid, two issues of Runner Runner, several comics from Tyler Boss, Kris Mukai's Commuter, and a pile of issues of Lose by Michael DeForge to give to my friends.
I hope you enjoyed my rundown of what MoCCA was like and check out the hot new talent that I have spotlighted in this column. If you didn't like it, then I am very sorry.
Nick Gazin is an artist and the art editor of VICE. Follow him on Twitter.