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MoCCA 09: Too hot to handle [Jun. 8th, 2009|04:34 pm]
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Evan Dorkin pretty much summed up my feelings on this year's MoCCA Art Fest:

http://evandorkin.livejournal.com/195578.html

I'm a huge fan of the event and also a strong supporter of the MoCCA organization, who puts on the festival (as well as other great events in NYC throughout the year). It's a thankless job run by hardworking volunteers. It's easy to complain about what goes wrong, and not enough people stop to appreciate all the things that go right. Considering how many new people are running things this year, and since I generally like the people involved, I was ready to give the MoCCA crew a free pass. The show opening an hour late and all the panels getting shifted around certainly sucked. But there is a learning curve, and I assume the volunteers scrambled to right any wrongs.

But by mid Saturday, for the first in 15 years of exhibiting at cons, I seriously contemplated packing up my stuff and going home. Granted, having just found out that Nick Mag [the best job in the world] was coming to end, did not put me in a great mindset. But I seriously tried to embrace the changes and enjoy myself. As an SVA grad, I have fond memories of the neighborhood, and thought the historic significance of the Armory was cool. But once you are inside, you might as well be in any old warehouse. The inside of the Armory has none of the charm that made MoCCA feel unlike any other convention. I truly believe the Puck Building location helped people rethink comics! Is it a coincidence that the start of the MoCCA Art Fest coincided with the NY Publishing world suddenly becoming more interested in graphic novels and comics in general?

Once inside the gymnasium-layout of the Armory, you might as well be inside a drab room of the Jacob Javits Center. And without air conditioning, we might as well have been in a death camp. There were several points were I was ready to collapse from heat exhaustion. I literally started seeing color blurs and zoned out completely while talking to people (sorry if that includes YOU!). Stepping outside was like going to heaven--but as soon as you stepped back in, your soul was sucked back to hell. The inability to breathe lowered my tolerance for everything. I felt like I could be mugged and not even notice.

I know the Puck building had its problems. But at least you knew there was an air-conditioner SOMEWHERE. And as already stated, it was classy and memorable in ways that people will talk about nostalgically forever. But I know the con outgrew it, and NYC doesn't have a lot of great options for events of this kind. I imagine it's mostly people like me who honestly had great locations at the Puck's MoCCA that will complain the loudest about the Armory. And I totally sympathize with my friends who used to get stuck on the 7th floor or a random corner at the old location. At least now everyone has to suffer together equally!

On more positive notes...

The room for the panels and the bathrooms were definitely superior to the Puck.

Turnout was strong, sales were decent (especially considering we had nothing new) and it is ALWAYS great to see so many friends, amazing books, and creativity. There was a lot of new talent added to the mix.

Marion Vitus has lots of great photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/98236486@N00/

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: rufftoon
2009-06-08 10:06 pm (UTC)

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My first reaction when I saw Marion's pics was a bit sad to see the lack of fun architecture. Puck building will be missed for that. From here, it looks like a better lit version of Expozine in Montreal (due to higher ceiling- Expozine is in a church basement). Just basic rows of tables.
Ouch for lack of air conditioning. Not fun to work for 8 hours in bad hot air quality.

Nice to hear about the good side of the show. Hope you guys did well.
[User Picture]From: qwantz
2009-06-08 10:36 pm (UTC)

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Man, I hear that! I didn't even get to say hi to you this year because I never got out from behind the table. I tried a few times, but going outside for a few minutes was what I needed to do. I was not impressed!

But yes - hello! I'm sorry I didn't stop by in person!
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-06-08 11:12 pm (UTC)

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Hello back at ya. I only really did one pass around the floor toward the end and was sad that I hadn't thought to do so earlier. Like you, I kept thinking that fresh air was the most important thing ever! Even hanging out in the basement was a lot more fun than being on the con floor.
[User Picture]From: qwantz
2009-06-08 11:50 pm (UTC)

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It's a bit frustrating because there's hardly been a year where MoCCA didn't have heat problems, but it always felt like progress was being made. With this venue they seemed to throw their hands up in the air and say "OH WELL, I GUESS THEY WILL HAVE TO DEAL"
From: calloocallay
2009-06-08 11:36 pm (UTC)

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Was the fest really bigger than it ever had been before? I felt like there were fewer booths than last year, but perhaps that was a trick of the spacing. Also, I didn't get to go down to the panel room - the murals look cool from Marion's pictures - were there other booths down there?

Also, when I stopped by the Bakery, you were deep in conversation, so I will offer my condolences here: I'm really sorry about Nickelodeon Magazine.
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-06-09 12:53 am (UTC)

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Sorry I missed you! I'm also a bit skeptic about how much bigger the Armory is. It seemed like they maybe squeezed in 30 more tables than previous years? Didn't see how they could really expand much more if the show got even bigger. The aisles were a lot more spacious though so maybe they'd cram people in tighter. :/
[User Picture]From: finkenstein
2009-06-09 12:38 am (UTC)

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Honestly getting stuck on the 7th floor was much worse than dealing with the armory for me. Paying a lot for a table and then getting less than half the traffic that downstairs gets, PLUS the sweltering heat up there made me want to never do it again. This year there was still the heat but at least we got the space and the traffic!
I didn't mind the armory, the layout allowed for isle room to wander around more. At the puck I found that traffic would get stuck places and block whole tables for hours. I also really loved the panel room and facilities in general. A lot of people have said they made more money than any year before.
The heat was ridiculous and man, what can they even do about that? They brought fans in the next day but it really didn't help much unless you were in front of one. I totally do miss the lovely feeling of the puck building, with it's big curtained windows and columns. It was a classy joint. However if it means that MOCCA is getting bigger and small/indie press is getting more exposure it can't be a bad thing to accommodate that! I wonder if they will choose the armory again next year. Also, the hike in table price doesn't sit right with me at all.
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-06-09 12:57 am (UTC)

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Yeah, I know the 7th floor really was bad for a lot people. I just wish if they were going to move it, things were an all around improvement. It seemed like for everything better there was something equally bad.

Glad the show worked out for you (and seemingly other people). As far as profits go, we certainly did okay. I honestly think every year there are people who do bad and just don't advertise it. My first 2 years at MoCCA I barely broke even.

"The heat was ridiculous and man, what can they even do about that?"
--There was much rumbling that the Armory HAS air-conditioning but the MoCCA crew just didn't want to pay for it. I HOPE that's not the case.


[User Picture]From: gummibaehr
2009-06-09 02:53 am (UTC)

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I am soooo sad I didn't make it by your table! I wanted to see Cybert. :-D Haha. But I was really happy when you stopped by to say hello!
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-06-09 02:59 am (UTC)

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I'm glad to hear you did awesomely at the show! I definitely tried to send people you way when they complimented Cybert. And there was a LOT of praise and admiration for it!
[User Picture]From: mattloux
2009-06-09 05:32 am (UTC)

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I agree with you all the way. I'm probably more negative about it though. The price jumps for the past few years for tables has been annoying me because it is shifting the show from awesome do it yourself art comics (or at least single creator sellers) to bigger groups and names who can make the bucks back. And with the ugly and hot venue who's only improvement is it's size, it really supports my feeling that Mocca is getting super greedy.
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-06-09 12:34 pm (UTC)

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I've been wondering about that price jump. At $400 per table, to break even, a young artist would have to sell:

200 copies of $2 mini comics
OR 40 copies of a $10 graphic novel

That is very intimidating and highly unlikely! It basically means they have to split the table with as many friends as possible and are forced to have a mix of products like T-shirts, prints and toys. You'll never make your money back on just books unless you are already a known identity or an ultimate breakout hit like Sam Hiti was at MoCCA years back.
[User Picture]From: chrisduffyrocks
2009-06-09 04:14 pm (UTC)

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As a person wandering around looking (instead of working a table) I confess to liking it better than the Puck building. Fewer jam ups, felt more encouraged to see everything, etc.

But fixing the AC issue is crucial.
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-06-09 04:38 pm (UTC)

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If I could have breathed and not been so worried about hallucinating I probably would have enjoyed the wider aisles.
The atmosphere made me not want to look too closely at everything. It was all a hazy blur of color. And I felt too sticky to want to shake anyone's hand. :(
[User Picture]From: zia_narratora
2009-06-09 05:40 pm (UTC)

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Hi Dave! It is Tea; I thought I had friended you when I friended Raina but apparently I did not!

Anyway! I have been going to shows at the Armory since I was a kid and I think one of the problems is that this was the first MoCCA there, and people are used to the Puck Building still and haven't reconsidered how to use this new space.

As a non-exhibitor guesty person, I felt like this was nice because the aisles were much wider; however, I also agree about the sense of the space-- I felt like I was at an indoor comic flea market! Moreso that than at a "regular" show.

But a family friend's ex was in the textile industry for many years and at the level that most of the artists exhibiting at MoCCA are at-- if there is such a thing as an indie silk weaver, he would be it; he works on a huge 19th century loom that takes up his whole house and so on and so forth...and the thing is, when I walked into MoCCA, I was like, "this is not the Armory I remember!" from going to John's shows. At the textile shows I always went to, the space was organized much more creatively-- sections of the floor were grouped together and turned into little enclaves more than rows, and it felt a lot more welcoming and homey. I think that that can be improved on in the future if the venue is kept.

The air conditioning is still a problem. It was gross, and I can't imagine how it would have been if it had been much hotter outside. They need to do something about that.

I had a bunch of people with me who had never been to MoCCA before, though, and they were all completely in heaven.

Edit: Oh! And the table price issue. That is a problem. I think the prices are getting way out of the spirit of the convention.

Edited at 2009-06-09 05:42 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: 9mmed
2009-06-09 09:32 pm (UTC)

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Hi, Tea
Thanks for telling us about the table configurations at the textile shows, that's a great idea. I think the comics shows only do it like that because they always have. This is never a good enough reason to do anything forever, hahaha.
[User Picture]From: zia_narratora
2009-06-09 10:00 pm (UTC)

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Oh, yeah, I am sure it is just that that was the first thing that occurred to them. The thing is, the textile shows actually felt a lot more like the Puck Building-- it's not that this is the only way comics have been shown; it's that people aren't very creative with space. The same space could be set up in multiple U-formations rather than just straight rows and I think that would at least help the endcap complaints. I think it would also make each section seem more intimate.

Basically, space organization issues can be solved. Money issues and the show getting too big for its vendors can't.
[User Picture]From: bleed_ink
2009-06-09 08:13 pm (UTC)

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As this was my first year actually showing at MoCCA, I can't speak to how the experience was different. I can say that we had a ton of issues...Our table was on one of the "cut through" style isles, and no one seemed to want to make the turn, or if they did, they were totally focused on getting to the next main aisle. We had to work hard to even get people to *look* at our table.

The heat was definitely an issue, I think a lot of people didn't linger due to the heat, and I know it resulted in me not wanting to walk around to look at stuff too much because it was too much effort.

I am also worried about the price hike next year. I was already splitting a table (with nervousystem and <lj user=bbstard), I honestly don't know how many more people we can cram int a half table.
[User Picture]From: yaytime
2009-06-09 08:21 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, most people seem to split tables up to save costs. It's great until you have so much stuff people don't know what is what!
[User Picture]From: 9mmed
2009-06-09 09:29 pm (UTC)

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Dang, Dave! Sorry the show was such a turn off. Maybe they'll get a different venue for next year. Also, sorry to hear abut Nick Mag, it was a great magazine, and I wish it was around when I was a kid.