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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MOCCA Fest 2009 Report - Hey Yids, Comics

Line of people waiting to storm the armory

As those who either follow this blog or read my American buddy Rachel Freedenberg's blog are already aware, two weeks ago, I went to New York City (aka Manhattan) to attend this year's annual Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival, held at the Lexington Avenue Armory.

I won't belabor the fact that it should have been less heated in the main space, as people who want to read rants about that can simply choose from a selection of MOCCA Fest reports at Tom Spurgeon's The Comics Reporter site to see what's been written already.

I'm happy to report that I met most of the comix professionals I had hoped to meet there, whom I listed in my last post.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about other writers and illustrators of Jewish-content comic stories were in attendance, as well. While I like a nice surprise as much as the next fellow, I prefer to get a good idea of who exactly will be at a comix gathering, and where they will be scheduled to appear. I'm not a stalker, but I am someone who likes to try to be organized and prepared. From the point of view of exhibitors and guests, I have already read a number of complaints about their fans missing (or almost missing) the chance to meet them because their names weren't in the program booklet. It might also have helped to have a list of those who - for whatever reason - couldn't be included in the program booklet. Perhaps such a list could have been displayed at the MOCCA table (which was in the front, at the center of the room).

Below, I present to you, (in alphabetical order, yet) creators of Jewish comix and Jewish comix fans who were at the Festival and whom I did not list in my last post :

* Jonathan Baylis (author of So ... Buttons mini-comic)

* Nick Bertozzi (illustrator of Houdini : The Handcuff King

* Ryan Dunlavey (artist of "Isaac ben-Luria: Rabbi of the Mystic Arts!" in Action Philosophers #4, reprinted in Action Philosophers Giant Size Thing volume 2)

* Josh Eiserike (writer of the stories in the comic series Assholes, whose Liberal Crap comic strips for University of Maryland's Diamondback student newspaper included a cartoon about Jewish dating websites and a cartoon about the perks (and downside) of being Jewish)

* Bob Fingerman (author of Beg the Question, about "a snarky and buttoned-down Jew", as well as the mini-series White Like She, in which there are multiple brain transplants, one of them being into - and out of - a young Jewish radical woman)

* Rivkah Greulich, (author-illustrator of the manga-ish miniseries Steady Beat, which has the half-African-American, half-Jewish character Elijah Peter)

* Dean Haspiel (illustrator of many Harvey Pekar stories, including his graphic novels The Quitter and Ego & Hubris : The Michael Malice Story)

* Bernie Hou (author of the photoshop-produced Alien Loves Predator webcomic, which has included a comic about Jdate and one that refers to Jews for Jesus)

* Joe Infurnari (cartoonist of Working Girl Golem, which appeared in Heeb #17)

* Sarah Jaffe (Newsarama writer)

* Arie Kaplan (author of From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comics, as well as the story "Not a (Green, Slimy) Creature was Stirring" in The Simpsons Winter Wing Ding #3)

* T.J. Kirsch (one of the illustrators of the So ... Buttons mini-comic)

* "Kung Fu Jew 18" (comix fan, who posted his photos from the Festival at Flickr, in the group Jews at MoCCA Fest 2009)

Steve Bergson and Josh Lipowsky near the armory on Sunday

* Josh Lipowsky, an editor of the New Jersey Jewish Standard

* David Malki! (author of the Wondermark webcomic, which has been collected in trade paperback). Among the comics that have appeared on the site is one with the punch line "Hannukah bush", one about the Jewish New Year, one that uses the juice/Jews homonym joke and one about Hebephiles

* Dylan Meconis (author-illustrator of the webcomic Family Man, about a Jewish academic named Luther Levy, who was unable to defend his dissertation because of his faith)

* Mike (blogger of Satisfactory Comics blog)

* Jim Ottaviani (author of Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love and Fallout : J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and the Political Science of the Atomic Bomb)

* Elayne Riggs (comics fan and blogger for Pen-Elayne on the Web

* Mitch Roth (artist of the comic series Assholes)

* Emily Steinberg (cartoonist of the online autobiographical webcomic memoir Graphic Therapy - Notes from the Gap Years)

* Lauren Weinstein (author-illustrator of the anthology Girl Stories, which includes the story "Chanukah Blues", as well as of the story "Horse Camp" which appeared in the anthology Stuck in the Middle).


I only attended 2 panels during the whole Festival (though I did catch the very end of Charles Hatfield's panel on Jack Kirby).

The first was the panel about Jerry Robinson, which ended with him receiving the Klein award from Danny Fingeroth.

Jerry Robisnon, Larry Klein, & Danny Fingeroth

The other session I went to was a panel about the humor magazine Humbug, which was discussed by two of its creators - Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth - and Fantagraphics editor Gary Groth.

Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, Gary Groth

One of the sessions I did not attend was the one in which Gary Panter and Frank Santoro discussed the world of fine art and its influences upon comics. Thanks to the Squally Showers blog, I learned that one of the illustrations shown during the panel was the cover of Zap Comix #3, which has Hebrew on one of the covers (the comic was a flip book). In the cover in question, a bug creature is saying either "Yehoshua" (the Hebrew form of Joshua) or "Y'shua" (the Hebrew form of Jesus) and actual Hebrew characters are used (which doesn't happen very often on the covers of non-Israeli comic books).


Much time was spent acquiring skecthes. I usually try to get "Jewish" sketches for myself (mostly rabbis) at gatherings of cartoonists. On this trip, though, I got a small number of Archie sketches for my wife (one of them cost $5.00 ; the rest were free). I also got over 20 sketches for my cousin & her fiance who just got married on Sunday. It was funny when - at one point during the Festival - the fiance was standing quite close to where he was being sketched (unbeknownst to him).


Comics which I paid money for

Owly : Tiny Tales (Top Shelf, 2008) by Andy Runton. 175 pages
My wife and I are big Owly fans and this is the only book we hadn't bought yet.
Cover price : $10.00
My cost : $5.00

So ... Buttons (the first mini, 2007), 24 pages.
Cover price : $3.00
My price : $3.00
The author, Jonathan Baylis (mentioned above) is Jewish and his Jewishness is evident in many of the stories in this comic, including "So ... My Dad Got Drafted" (in which Jonathan's father expresses his disdain for France because "Dey hate da Jews" and Jonathan mentions (after their dinner of ribs) that their stomachs were full of pork "like the good Jews we are" ; "So ... Racist", in which he shows what it was like to be the only Jew in a white, Italian town, shows how he was misperceived as a "goyishe schmuck" when he went to a kosher bakery after college, and where he imagines a porn movie titled "Jewish Schmeckle, Black Peckle" ; "So ... Only Nixon Could've Gone to China" shows Jonathan visiting a concentration camp while on a trip to Germany. Incidentally, I enjoyed that last story better when I read it on Baylis's website, since it had the music playing in the background while you read the last page.

Palindramas Book 2 by Dan Mazur, 17 pages.
I think I paid the book cost, which I recall as being $1.00 (I can't find a price on it). This is a fun book, Jewish content or not. The gags are short (no longer than 2 pages) and consist, at least in part, of a palindrome (a phrase or word which reads the same backward or forward). The "Jewish" comic is on the last page of the book and involves the palindrome "Yoga / A Goy".
I might not have bought the comic if I realized the joke was online. Then again, it was an inexpensive purchase.

Assholes #2 (2008) by Josh Eiserike and Mitch Roth (see above), 24 pages
Cover price : $3.00
My price : $3.00
I wasn't going to buy this, as I'd just assumed that there wasn't anything significantly Jewish in it (having already read issue #1 online). However, Josh (or Mitch) pointed out to me that there's a 4-page scene in which Josh is on a date with a "right-wing Orthodox virgin" who's Jewish. In the story, the virgin's cousin, Andrea, bails Josh and Mitch out of a Mexican prison. However, she uses that act of kindness to get a favor from each of them. Mitch is chosen to go on the date because the virgin (who is never named) had gone to Hebrew school with Josh's cousin (whom Josh had sex with in the last issue). The comic explains the "Holocaust drinking game" (when you try to drink 6 million beers). The date ends rather quickly once Mitch realizes that he's not going to end up getting physical in any way, shape or form with "the virgin".

Clint and Rosebud #1 (2008) by Ben Granoff, 24 pages
Cover price : $1.00
My price : $1.00 (but I also got a sketch from Ben, so I consider it a bargain)
There's essentially nothing Jewish in the stories, though in one of the stories Ben mentions that his zaydeh (Yiddish for "grandfather") dies when he was two and a half.

411 #2 (NY : Marvel) July 2003, 32 pages
Cover price : $3.50
My price : $1.08
I didn't pick this up at the Festival, but at Jim Hanley's Universe, which was having a sale on back issues.
The second story, "Enlightenment" (written by Sean Phillips, illustrated by Jose Villarrubia) takes place in Haifa, Israel and involves 2 young kids - Nazir (a Palestinian) and Hassan (a Baha'i). At a crucial point in the story, Nazir mistakes Hassan for a Jew (and thus, I did as well, when I was skimming through the comic).

Omaha : The Cat Dancer vol. 2 #1 (Fantagraphics, July 1994), written by Kate Worley ; illustrated by Reed Waller, 22 pages
Cover price : $2.50
My price : $2.50 (plus tax)
I'd never bought a comic from the "erotica" section of a comic book shop before, not even an issue of Omaha. Omaha has a reputation of being different from most of the other comics found in the "restricted" area of comix shops, the others being primarily smut in comics format. Omaha by contrast is story-driven with great characterization and multiple plotlines. It contains depictions of sexuality, but these scenes do not make up the bulk of the pages in any individual issue. In the issue I bought, the only sex scene took place on pages 14 and 15. The scene at the top of the very next page showed a Jewish family celebrating Hanukkah, with a Chanukah menorah and a "Happy Hanukkah" banner in the background, the children playing dreidel with Uncle Mike.


Swag (stuff I didn't pay for)


The Big Khan by Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani
32-page preview booklet
price : N/A (but the price of the finished graphic novel is expected to be $13.95 USD)
expected date of publication : Sept. 2009

Depictions of Israel & Israelis

Empire State of Mind #1 by Ethan Heitner - class assignments for classes at School of Visual Arts, Spring 2009, 24 pages
This copy was given to me by Seth Tobocman, after I'd told him about my Israel in Comics blog and my interest in representations of Israel & Israelis in comics. The contents include : "Against Israeli Apartheid" which uses the text of an article by Desmond Tutu and Ian Urbina ; "Self Defense", made in February 2009 after the invasion of Gaza had ended ; 2 fliers made for Adalah-NY promoting boycotting of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel ; "Is Building Luxury Condos a War Crime?" and "Who is Lev Leviev?" (both of which talk about Leviev's work in the Middle East) ; and "Tristan Anderson" (about Americans shot by Israeli soldiers).

The Rest

A.D. : New Orleans After the Deluge (Pantheon) by Josh Neufeld
adaptation of the excellent webcomic which was hosted at the Smith Mag site
198-page sampler
The final version is expected to be 208 pages and cost $24.95. I wonder what's in the extra 10 pages.
expected date of publication : Aug. 18, 2009

Love and Rockets : New Stories Free Comic Book Day giveaway (2009) by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez, 32 pages

The Unwritten #1 (Vertigo, July 2009) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, 30 pages
Cover price : $1.00

Smoke Signal #1 - a 28-page collection of short (1 page or less) comics by various cartoonists, printed on newsprint and folded like a newspaper. Although there's no Jewish stories in it, the back cover by Mike Freiheit and Alex Hemming - which is a page of fake ads - includes the mock ad "!!!Pocket Jew!!! Fits in your pocket & will do whatever you want! extra long fingers for 'special' commands!!"

Archie presents The Mighty Archie Art Players Free Comic Book Day giveaway(2009) by George Gladir and Stan Goldberg, 27 pages

Saga of the Swamp Thing - free special convention edition (reprint of Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, originally published in 1984) by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben), 23 pages

Bang! Tango #1 (Vertigo, April 2009) by Joe Kelly, Adrian Sibar and Rodney Ramos, 22 pages
Cover price : $2.99

Madame Xanadu #1 (Vertigo, Sept. 2008) by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley, 22 pages
Cover price : $2.99

Arena Comics #1 (featuring Advice Comics) by Zigory (c2004, 20 pages)

Joe and Azat by Jesse Lonergan
15-page preview booklet
expected date of publication : Sept. 2009

Nine Tenths by James Smith
12-page booklet

The Squirrel Machine preview edition (12 pages)
expected date of publication : Fall 2009

Crossover Comics - The 2008/2009 Samane Ad Campaign (11 pages of 1-page comics) by Robert Gavila
Most of the comics are about the tyranny of Diamond Distributors. Funny and sad at the same time.

Intro to Skullyflower (2009) by Dragon
7-page booklet

Sex, Drugs & June Cleaver (2008?)
6-page mini-book sampler

Pop Culture Shock Therapy
sampler of 8 single-panel comic gags (4 pages)

David Mazuchelli poster, promoting the MOCCA exhibition of his work titled "Sounds and Pauses". The outside of the poster contains a 3-page essay by Dan Nadel, while the inside unfolds into the poster.

Angstrom sneak preview (Oct. 2006, 2 pages) by Ken Applebaum
The back page of the preview is the one-page "True Story Swear to Zod"

double-sided sampler reprinting 2 pages from Bite Me! (a webcomic described as "an historico-vampire farce") by Dylan Meconis (the same cartoonist responsible for Family Man mentioned above)

one-page comic strip sample/promo for Das Bear

one-page comic strip sample/promo for Fork You

one-page, 4-comic strip sampler/promo for the webcomic IceCubes

After Watchmen ... What's Next (DC Comics)

Zuda Comics sampler (containing story pages from I Rule the Night, Imaginary Boys, Supertron, Night Owls and Black Cherry Bombshells

postcard for the A Distant Memory weekly webcomic by Sharon Furgason

postcard for the fisrt volume of Magical Tales of Enchanted Mysteriousness

postcard for The Hookah Girl and Other True Stories : Growing Up Christian Palestinian in America by Marguerite Dabaie

Wondermark postcard by David Malki!

Pope Hats (Ethan Rilly) bookmark

Adrenaline (Wave Blue World) bookmark

set of 5 bookmarks promoting the 4th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (no title yet) which will be published by Abrams

Bags Unlimited catalog

Papercutz Fall '09 catalog

Fantagraphics Winter 2009 catalog

NBM Spring 2009 catalog

First Second Fall 2009 catalog

MOCCA program booklet, cover by Molly Crabapple, 26 pages
Includes the 2-page essay "Academy embraces comics" by Kent Worcester


I also picked up a flier for the 1st annual Asian American Comicon, which will be held in New York City on July 11th.

I wonder how long we'll need to wait before a Jewish American Comicon is organized.

1 comment:

Steve Bergson said...

I seem to have forgotten to mention 2 other freebies that I received at MOCCA Fest.

* promotional postcard for the webcomic Planet Wifey

* promotional counterfeit 5-dollar bill from Mad Ink Press