Comics: MoCCA recap and loot pics

This weekend was the big Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art festival, aka MoCCA, and I started the weekend Friday night at Rocketship:

That's where Norwegian comics master Jason debuted his new collection, Pocket Full of Rain. A small gallery of original pages was set up at the front of the store, accompanied by a work Jason contributed just for the occasion. There was a great turnout; check out more pics and a weekend round-up over at the store's site.

I spent 45 minutes sitting next to Jason at a bar before the signing, and I didn't even know it (I'm sure he was relieved in retrospect).

One of the absolute highlights of Saturday at the MoCCA festival was talking to Lynda Barry, who was signing copies of her new book, What It Is. To be honest, I was more familiar with Barry's name than her work - I really only knew she had a great reputation as a teacher, writer, and cartoonist. That reputation is deserved, if you ask me; she was gracious and engaging, taking five or ten minutes to talk to everyone who waited in line to meet her. If you get the chance, go see her while she's promoting this book. Either way, try to check out What It Is, a scrapbook-style meditation on creativity that's absolutely overflowing with images and ideas. There's a good preview over at Pop Candy.

This one still cracks me up - it's a mini-comic called Kool Aid Gets Fired, by Tim Piotrowski.

That's Hope Larson signing my copy of Chiggers, and that's her husband, Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley, immortalizing the moment from another angle. He's showing his solidarity by sporting the fashionable Shasta bandana, which was also for sale at the table and which I may or may not be wearing as I write this.

A blurry pic of Hope and Bryan, but at least you can see the cover as she's working on it. She did a different ink-and-brush drawing for everyone who bought the book, and it was really fun watching her work - she's seriously talented. I didn't get a chance to ask Bryan for a sketch, but he was busy enough selling copies of Chiggers. Probably my only regret of the weekend. That, and not cramming my shorts full of ice packs. The billboard thermometer thingie outside on Broadway read 101 degrees when I left the show.

The finished product, and the coolest thing I brought home from the show. I hope this thing sells a million copies.

Did I mention it was hot in the Puck Building? It was bearable on the air-conditioned first floor, but up on 7, the ceiling fans weren't making much of an impact. That's where they stuck most of lesser-known creators, the for'ners, the LGBT crew, and Vertigo.

I addition to the stuff up there, I picked up a copy of James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems, which I've read a lot of great things about and which looks awesome (I'll read it as soon as I've finished Josh Cotter's fantastic, depressing Skyscrapers of the Midwest). I also grabbed all three Action Philosophers books and scored a free poster from the Evil Twin guys. Cartoonist and Spongebob writer Sam Henderson was at the show selling his Magic Whistle books (I bought two and should have gotten more) and wearing hospital clothes. I'm really looking forward to digging into the oversized Sundays #2, an anthology by students and alumni of Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies. Oh, and my award for Best Cover goes to Paul Horacek and his collection of bleak, pessimistic gag cartoons, All We Ever Do Is Talk About Wood.

Transient

My favorite cartoon in the book shows a boy sitting in bed with a broken leg, his cast signed with things like "Get worse soon" and "Too bad it wasn't your neck." At first it's hilarious, and then it sort of makes you want to cry. If that's your kind of thing, you can get a copy through the Drawn & Quarterly site.

MoCCA is a must-attend event for comics fans whose tastes lean more toward the artistic or literary or whatever you want to call it. The non-superhero stuff. The work on display was incredibly diverse, and I'm sure I missed at least a dozen great indie and small-press books. For a smaller show (compared to the bloated, cosplay-saturated New York Comic Con), it's incredibly dense, and you really need to attend both days if you want to take everything in. I surrendered to the heat and only left my apartment for about ten minutes on Sunday, and I sort of hate myself for it. To atone, I'll just have to buy twice as many books next year.

Home is where the broken hearth is.

Spinning: The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema

Since moving to New York, I’ve lived in two different apartments, both of which have essentially been studios. (NYC realtors will call absolutely anything a “one-bedroom” if they can, but don’t you believe them.) The strange thing is, both have had fireplaces … neither of which actually worked.

My old place, in Manhattan’s East Village, had one of those glass-enclosed, gas-powered jobs, fake logs and all. I soon learned, despite initial assurances to the contrary, that it had been disconnected and was now for “looks only.” Which would have been a little easier to accept, had it been even mildly pleasant to look at.

The new apartment, in Brooklyn Heights, has a massive fireplace – a real one, with a working flue and everything. But again, no can use. To their credit, the rental company did leave a very nice candle tree in there. To their debit, they also included a set of cast-iron fireplace tools. That’s just rubbing it in.

Sure, I know some people would kill to have even a nonworking fireplace, and I certainly appreciate the aesthetic charm or whatever. But there’s a larger issue at work here. A conflict. I’m talking about the ongoing, undeclared war between the decorative and the functional.

Of course, the style-vs.-substance debate is nothing new. I’m old enough to remember when MTV was actually Music Television. But that war has been over for a long time now; it was lost as soon as the network executives realized that most of you cretins actually seem to prefer the decorative over the functional.

In that case, I guess I can live with it. That’s democracy in action, and if the masses prefer entertainment to art, I'm willing to let them choke on it.

Sometimes, though, it’s not even a question of whether you prefer the decorative to the functional. It’s whether you can tell the fucking difference.