Thursday, June 12, 2008

MoCCA 2008

I have returned from the MoCCA show in New York where I experienced some weather that I have not felt in a long time. Living in Los Angeles, I’m used to heat (but still don’t like it), but the humidity in New York last weekend was oppressive. On Sunday we got some rain, but instead of bringing relief, it only brought more misery. That said, I still had a great time in NYC. It’s hard not to.

The Indie Spinner Rack podcasting table.

Georgene and I managed to get some sleep on this trip, so we had the energy to go out and have some fun at night. Saturday night, the Indie Spinner Rack threw a party at the bar M-15. We had the opportunity to talk with Charlito and Mr. Phil, Monica Gallagher and boyfriend Dennis, Jesse Post, Rob Venditti, Keith Knight, Joey Weiser, and a young lady who is a cartoonist and Forbidden Planet employee whose name I can’t remember (sorry, ask Mr. Venditti about how good I am at remembering people).

Wife Georgene, Monica Gallagher, and Monica's Boyfriend Dennis at M-15.

After spending a hundred bucks on the Gary Panter’s new 2 volume monster book set the week before, I didn’t have much dough to pick up new stuff at the show. However, there were a few inexpensive things that I knew I wanted to get and I was also hoping for some new discoveries while browsing. My first purchase was issues 2 and 3 of Fred Chao’s by AdHouse Books. Fred just got a ton of Eisner nominations, but it’s still been difficult to find his comics at my local shops. His comic is a light-hearted action comic about a half-Asian, Chinatown busboy, who struggles with his girlfriend to make ends meet with his girlfriend. He finds himself in the middle of odd adventures involving giant monsters and irate restaurant employees. Its combination of love story, personal problems, and adventure is reminiscent of early Spider-man comics. It would have broad mainstream appeal, if the comics mainstream weren’t filled with insular superhero comics.

A mini-comic I wanted pick up is How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden. This recounts Sarah’s trip to Israel as she tries to understand the un-understandable situation over there. Her viewpoint portrays Israel more as oppressor than victim, but her likable tour guide offers an Israeli point of view without going to extremes. At their worst, mini comics can be crudely drawn, poorly conceived stories. But How to Understand Israel is a well thought out, satisfying read that I’m pretty sure will be collected by a mainstream book publisher when it is completed. It fits very well in the “socially relevant memoir” genre (Maus, Fun Home, Blue Pills, Persepolis, etc…) that book publishers have been going ape shit over for a few years now. I hope that when it is collected, it will be in color, which will help anchor Sarah’s clear line drawing style, much like it does for Herge, Chris Ware, or Rutu Modan.

The best thing about these shows are the new discoveries. My favorite purchase of the weekend was made within the last half hour of the show. Rui Tenreiro’s H√łytiden is in Norwegian, but comes with an English translation sheet. The book reminds me a bit of medieval Ingmar Bergman movies (The Seventh Seal and Virgin Spring), Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, and the Japanese movie Kwaidan. It follows two travelers as they come across a large dead creature in the woods. The story is wonderfully mysterious and circular, perhaps representing the seasons. The art is in black and a gorgeous blue, which keeps the story feeling cold even though it takes place in spring. I think I’ll post a sample page because my description of the drawing would probably suck.

Other finds from the show are Garage Band and Notes from a War Story by and Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa. All three are published by First Second and I paid $20 for all of them (such a deal!). I also got Superior Showcase #3 with one story by Jim Rugg and one by Laura Park who can really draw. Her style is cartoony and uses cross hatching really well. Oftentimes, people like myself can find it difficult to find the right balance of cross hatching and comic pages can become too busy. Laura is able to use it to give her drawings weight, but nothing ever feels cluttered. I’ve got to find more stuff by her. Joseph Lambert came by and game me some of his latest books and one story you can read here. He is getting very good, very fast.

There are more books that I haven’t had a chance to go through yet, but I’ve got to end this thing. Hopefully some of these books I mention will peek your interest enough so that you can make some new discoveries yourself.

Mr. Keith Knight at M-15.


Ryan Dunlavey said...

I'm totally stealing that ISR picture.

Robert Goodin said...

It's yours! I give it freely.