Evan Dorkin has a lengthy and IMHO balanced wrap-up of MoCCA on his blog. I basically agree with his comments (which he seems to have taken some heat for from other bloggers — big surprise).
I’ve been to every MoCCA since it started, and I treasure the show dearly. Lately, I’ve been tending to go to MoCCA (and the New York Comic-Con) more to see compatriots than buy much stuff, though there’s always a gem or two which finds its way into to my hands. This year, despite the fact that for most of it I was wheeling a napping Phoebe around the gym, er, Armory, I had the pleasure of seeing and chatting with man_size, chatterbox_dc, James Romberger, George O’Connor, Joe Infurnari, Charlie Orr, Bob Sikoryak, Isaac Eddy Littlejohn, Mark Siegel, Gary Sullivan, Greg Bennett, my old assistant Nick Sumida and my current assistant Ben Moody, David Mazzucchelli, and my benefactor, Pantheon publisher Dan Frank. I also spotted, but never got a chance to talk with, Chris Staros, Brett Warnock, Lauren Weinstein, Tom Hart, Brendan Burford, and many other folks.
That was great. However, given all that, I totally agree with Dorkin’s characterization of the show. The new locale changed the feel of MoCCA from a "classy" art show to a punk rock flea market. Which is fine, if that’s what you’re into, but I guess I’m not. On the face of it, I applaud the fact that the Armory’s new one-room layout democratizes the space and equalizes all the presenters, but I miss the way that certain publishers had pride of place in the old layout. You always knew where to find Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, and Pantheon.
Personally, I didn’t notice the heat, but I wasn’t working a table (other than sitting at the Pantheon table for an hour), and I was only there on Saturday.
There were some advantages to this new location (the bathrooms, the location of the panels, the all-in-one-room openness), but I miss the more elegant (yea, "precious") feel of the Puck Building. And I agree that the organization, with the dysfunctional badges and wristbands, long lines, etc., was a total mess. I hope they can work out all these kinks for next year, as I love MoCCA and fervently root for it to succeed.
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I see all the pros and cons, and think Evan was being fair. I might not have been as balanced. Overall I have to say the whole thing felt like a sweaty swap meet to me. Not impressed. If it’s going to be at the Armory again, it either needs to have AC or be in April/May. Not much they can do about the gymansium atmosphere, but I’m afraid any new venue will suffer in comparison to the Puck Building. Alas, that bird has flown, financially speaking.
So far as you know, the Puck Bldg is permanently out of the equation? If so, would the prospect of another MoCCA at the Armory be enough to dissuade you from coming up from D.C.? Was it that bad?
My second-or-third-hand understanding is that the Puck substantially increased its rates after last year and may even have been unavailable at all for the desired dates.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t come up – occasions to mix and mingle with the rest of the Comix Tribe are rare enough for me as it is – but I’d certainly plan on spending a lot less time at the show than I did this time. Which may not matter to anyone but me, of course.
But the very fact that I’m less than wildly enthusiastic about an event at which I got to have interesting and pleasant (if short) conversations with David Mazzucchelli, Cameron Stewart, and Tara McPherson (to name a few people I was meeting for the first time, not to mention friends and collaborators) tells me something’s a bit off. The banh mi from across the street were pretty awesome, though.