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: