Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

You're in the Armory Now - MoCCA 2009 Pictorial

It hasn't been an easy year for us comics-wise. I absolutely love my day job, but it takes up so much of my time and energy that I continue to fall behind both in reading and in summoning up my writing creativity (as evidenced by how much my blog activity has fallen in the past year). Robin hasn't had a steady gig since he pencilled AND inked AND coloured the five-issue Sir Apropos of Nothing series for IDW, the last issue of which was finished in December. That's far too many months for someone of his talent level to go "between assignments," particularly in this economy. Neither has the weather treated us kindly in 2009; we went right from icy-driveway season into allergy season, which is still going at extra-strength for us both.

Still, things could be far worse, and we couldn't have asked for a better day yesterday to ride the express bus into Manhattan for the annual Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art's festival. The thing I've always liked about this show, besides the chance it gives us to renew our social life, is that it features as many women as men, all showing off their creativity and enthusiasm. It's hard not to get caught up in it all! So here's what we did and whom we saw:

A great shot of a typical Manhattan Saturday in the summer. Because there were so many street fairs going on elsewhere in the city, the express bus took us down Second Avenue instead of its usual route. This was at the corner of Second and 95th Street. We also got to see the ongoing construction of the Second Avenue subway, so there you go.

It was a lovely walk from where the bus let us off at Second and 34th down to Lexington and 26th. On the way we bumped into Val D'Orazio, which was great as we wound up not seeing her at all during the show itself. I also got a kick out of the above display in a bakery window. "The claw is our master, the claw decides who will stay and who will go..."

Wow, look at the queue stretching around the corner at the 69th Regiment Armory! And this was at 1:30 in the afternoon!

The queue continued right up the stairwell.

What a treat that the first person we saw when we walked in was Joan Hilty at the Vertigo table! Joan's probably my closest friend at DC Comics at present, and her wife Nancy is a well-known political blogger who's been published in Huffington Post and Salon (note: she's not the same Nancy Goldstein who's written the Jackie Ormes book) and has been a loyal Pen-Elayne reader for years. Joan's also one of my favorite "ladies who lunch" friends.

Jim Ottaviani was there with all his science-themed offerings. Well, almost all. He hadn't gotten any copies of his latest, T-Minus, from the publisher. Score one for self-publishing over corporate bureaucracy, I guess...

C. Spike Trotman had the third volume of Templar, Arizona out (one of two must-buys for the day), which is a good thing too -- even though you can read the strip online for free, I never seem to have the time, and it's so much easier to have it in front of me in paper form.

While Spike was drawing me a way cool squid on on the book's inside title page (just to make PZ jealous) I took the opportunity to get a better shot of the TA poster behind her. I love her art, it's so clean and whimsical and expressive!

This here's Marguerite Dabaie, whom I met for the first time. Her series Hookah Girl looked pretty neat, so I bought the first two volumes sight unseen; this was my impulse buy of the day. Given that we're currently a one-income family, I decided to slow down my purchases, but as it turns out I only bought one more thing after this. I was too busy greeting folks.

Say hi to Randi Mason and John DiBello and Bully! Randi and I go way back via our Lulu days. I'm such a Bully fan, and you should be too. John gave us a couple Bully pins, and Rob and I got to pose with the little stuffed bull, just like Jane Wiedlin! Randi had a fellow Lulu member and, I believe, self-publisher with her, but for the life of me I cannot remember the woman's name, so please kill me now amidst all due apologies.

At the other end of the table was our buddy Rodney Ramos, a cohort of Robin's from their Marvel UK days. If I were a Big Two publisher looking for an artist with the initials "RR" to give a pencilling or inking assignment to, I might think twice about hiring this guy, he looks like the violent type. Might I offer an alternate suggestion? Rod always brightens any convention, I can't help smiling whenever I see him.

Yay, we ran into Heidi MacDonald! Ace caught us up on all things Ben etc., and I got to thank her for her neighborhood eatery suggestions. It's weird to no longer be in mock-competition with my friend of so many years now that my ComicMix gig is gone, but I can still say to her in all sincerity, please link to this pictorial, Heidi, please please please!? :)

I hope you've treated yourself to at least one of Abby Denson's "Spider-Ma'am" stories (with Colleen Coover on art) in Spider-Man Family, they're a real treat! She and Matt Taub had just gotten back from the UK, so we swapped Merrie Olde stories. And Matt's Salt Water Taffy series just happened to be my other must-buy of the afternoon.

I'd have bought more Patty Cake stuff from Scott Roberts, but I already have it all. Plus, I follow most of his comics online, so this stop was mostly a catch-up as he graciously let me sit at his table for a bit. It had been less than two hours and I was already exhausted. Not only was the place non-air-conditioned (which really wasn't that bad until the collective body heat started raising indoor temps) but there were no chairs or benches for anyone who wasn't working the show. If you wanted to sit anywhere it had to involve steps, either downstairs to the ladies' room lounge or outside to the front of Baruch College. So it was we decided to call it a day inside the Armory.

But not before saying hello to Alex Simmons, possibly the most connected comics person this side of Heidi. During our brief conversation he must have introduced us to at least a half dozen people we hadn't previously met. A real treat, and come hell or high water, barring any family bar-mitzvahs and whatnot, we really want to try and make the Kids' Comic Con next year.

Besides Val, we also ran into Mike Carbonaro, Dean Haspiel, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Glenn Haumann, Avram Gruner and I'm sure I've forgotten a few names, so my apologies. But it was time to get some air and await the other reason for being in the city today:

Team Bartilucci! I've known Vinnie and Dorian for, my gosh, around about 30 years now, and daughter Shugie pretty much her whole life. We headed to Pinkberry to celebrate Dorian's birthday (which is officially on Monday) and just to hang out away from the noise and crowds. By the way, if you haven't yet checked out Vinnie's International Norbert Conspiracy (he's almost through his fourth sketchbook!) and Build-A-Hero projects, please do so!

This was a neat place to chill out whilst waiting for Vin & Dorian & Shugs, right in front of Baruch College. Very pretty!

On the way back to the bus, I realized another great feature of that part of Manhattan -- you can see both the Empire State Building...

...and the Chrysler Building, from pretty much the same spot.

A short bus ride later we were back home in the land of rose trellises...

...and birdsong, which echoes brilliantly through our quiet neighborhood. Unless of course the windows are closed because the ACs are on, like today. I don't envy the folks making the trek into the Armory, with the temps climbing up higher today than yesterday...