Mocca Arts Festival 2013: a convention report

Last Saturday I went to this year’s Mocca Arts Festival.  The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art was recently acquired by the Society of Illustrators, and so this was the first Mocca Festival organized by the Society.  As with the last few years, the Festival was held at the 69th Regiment Armory on 68 Lexington Avenue.

Originally, due to a limited budget, I wasn’t planning on attending this year’s show.  But at the last minute my girlfriend Michele Witchipoo had the opportunity to share a table with two other artists.  So I went to the show with her.  One of the books Michele was promoting was An Invitation to the World of Luisa Felix, Cartoonist.  Luisa Felix was an artist who unfortunately passed away in January of this year.  This tribute book of her work was assembled by Paul Curtis & E.J. Barnes.  Michele was one of several artists to illustrate a tribute piece for the book.  It’s a very lovely volume, and you can read more about it on her Witches Brew Press blog.

One of the first artists I stopped over to see was Teylor Smirl.  I first discovered her at Mocca Fest two years ago.  She does this sardonic mini comic Flightless Birds.  I really enjoy her art style.  Since I wasn’t at the show last year, I picked up her last two books, Flightless Birds Vol. 2 and Wild Turkey.  That later one is, as you can imagine, about drinking.  Brought back some odd memories for me, since back during my wild drinking days, I’d go out on Thanksgiving and knock back shots of Wild Turkey to celebrate the holiday.  One type of turkey was as good as another, I would drunkenly reason!  But, anyway, I enjoyed Teylor’s latest work, and it was nice to see her again.

Flightless Birds Vol 2

Flightless Birds Vol 2

I also went over to say “hello” to David Quinn, co-creator of Faust: Love of the Damned.  A few years back, Quinn, along with collaborators Michael Davis and Devon Devereaux, produced The Littlest Bitch, which they issued under the banner of “Not For Children Children’s Books.”  This darkly comical volume is the story of a little girl who plays the role of a ruthless corporate CEO.  I’d been meaning to pick this one up for a while now, so I’m glad I finally had an opportunity.

My pal Justin Melkmann is the guitarist in a local punk band, World War IX.  For the last few years he’s been putting out a self-published comic book titled Earaches and Eyesores, which recounts the real-life trials & tribulations of the band.  Justin was at Mocca Fest to promote the fourth issue, which relates the misadventures involved in the group having to find a new lead singer.  It was a really fun, crazy read.

World War IX Presents Earaches and Eyesores #4

World War IX Presents
Earaches and Eyesores #4

Sitting next to Justin at the show was artist Charles Fetherolf.  I wasn’t familiar with him, but he was sitting there doing these absolutely amazing sketches.  I purchased a copy of his self-published mini comic Dear Aunt Mollie.  It is an illustrated version of a letter which was written by his grandfather, an infantryman who fought in the trenches during World War I.  Fetherolf is hoping to be able to expand this to a full-length graphic novel in the near future.  I definitely wish him luck, because this was a really well done book.

Another artist whose work I really enjoy is Jodi Tong.  I’ve gotten several really lovely sketches from her over the last few years.  Jodi does a web comic called House of LSD.  It’s about three cat sisters who run an adult film company.  Yeah, it sounds naughty.  But, really, it’s actually quite sweet & funny.  Jodi was able to publish a collection of her strips from 2008 to 2010.  I read those on her website a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed them.  So I was happy that she was able to get them into print.  It was definitely fun re-reading them in book form.  I really hope that a second volume is forthcoming.

House of LSD

House of LSD

I was able to get a few sketches done at the show.  Teylor Smirl, Charles Fetherolf and Jacob Chabot drew some very nice pieces in my sketchbooks.  I’ve posted scans of them on the Comic Art Fans website:

http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryDetail.asp?GCat=60

As I said, I was on a budget, so I really did not pick up too much else.  Which is a real shame, since there were so many amazing creators who had interesting books for sale.  There is so much creativity going on in the independent and small press corners of the business.  Mocca Fest is a fantastic show to go to in order to discover what is taking place outside the mainstream.

Some of the Museum’s collection of artwork was on display in a section of the show.  It was a very nice mix of old & new, of mainstream and alternative.  Among the artists whose work was on display were Walt Kelly, Ken Bald, Milton Caniff, Jose Gonzalez, Alex Raymond, Bill Griffith, Marie Severin, and Mark Texeira.  I wish I could remember more names.

Anyway, yeah, Mocca Fest 2013 was a great show.  I had a lot of fun.  I think the Society of Illustrators did a fantastic job organizing the weekend’s events.

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