Okay!  This is long overdue so let’s get to it!

My journey to the MoCCA Festival was a long and strange one.  One that left my debit card de-activated for a short amount of time. But it’s exactly the type of audience I always felt I should be going for, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t go.  And fortunately my cousin Melissa lived in New York with her husband Ben and baby daughter Greta.  Oddly enough?  I’ll be staying with her sister Bridget in Berkley if I get approved for APE.  Gotta love this elaborate couch-surfing network I’ve been setting up with my huge Irish family.

My flight up was invented, certainly nothing as bad as the time when heading to Spring-Con I reserved my ticket for 11PM and not AM.  But the trip to the airport was hair-raising.  The stoner who had taken my reservation at Wheaton Taxi Cab had apparently never filed it, so I was left with my thumb up my butt two hours before my flight trying to scrounge up another cab.  If it weren’t for the fact that it was raining and thus my flight was delayed by two hours, I surely would’ve missed it.

Ben picked me up at LaGuardia and I got my first glimpse of the epic, cramped graveyards all across New York City (so that’s where the gangs of yore ended up).  I arrived at his and Melissa’s apartment in Brooklyn where I was warmly welcomed with tilapia and spinach salads.  I was put up on a futon in the baby’s room while they opted to have her sleep with them for the weekend.

Now, I want to say this about my cousin Melissa: she’s one of the sweetest, most selfless people I’ve ever known.  I wouldn’t have even have been able to go to this convention if not for her kindness and hospitality.  She even insisted on giving me money for one of the Oh Goodie! books when I gladly would’ve given her a copy for free.  And she has my undying gratitude for that…but she has a capacity for saying off-kilter things that rivals Shit My Dad Says.

When she showed me where I was going to be sleeping, she said “Now if you’re at one of the after-parties and you hit it off with a girl, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to bring her back here.”

…Okay, first off, Melissa clearly has an inflated impression of my prowess with the ladies (I’m sadly not dating any of the girls I usually photograph in costume at cons).  But that aside…the  baby’s crib is RIGHT THERE.  What am I gonna say to a girl if I DO bring her back to their apartment?  “Aw yea honey, wanna make one of those?”

I got up early the next morning and dove headfirst into the New York subway system heading down to the Lexington Avenue Armory where the convention was being held.  Seeing all the people with tattoos, gauged ear lobes, and fedoras told me I was in the right place.  I confess, after all the mainstream shows I had been to, I got whiplash appearing at one of the biggest indie shows in the nation.  All the handmade stuff, the rustic venue, the lack of girls in costume, even though this is my scene it still threw me off a bit.  You could even see chairs up in a balcony on the second tier for God-Knows-What.  I joked that Statler and Waldorf would be heckling the show all weekend from up there.  “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? More like Scott Pilgrim vs. The Box Office!  DO HO HO HO…”

Since this was my first time at this con (or in this city for that matter) I expected sales to be slow.  But the networking was off the roof, and it was my pleasure to get to know the artists there.  I got to give copies of Eddie Van Helsing to Jeph Jacques, Katie Shannahan, and Chris Hastings (his Dr. McNinja ironically being an influence on EVH).  I got to say hello to M. Magdalene of Curvy and Robyn Chapman from The Center For Cartoon Studies (the graduate school that was never meant to be for me).  I got to trade cards with Michael & Oliver of First Law of Mad Science, Jacob Alvarez of Hypno Spiral Comics, Pagie Pumphrey, and Christiann MacAuley of Sticky Comics.  A great pleasure was getting to meet Lawrence “Zan” Gullo and his partner Fyodor Pavlov, and check out their new project Baritaria.  Lawrence’s previous comic My Life In Blue was a huge influence in how I write my gay characters, so it was great to finally meet him.

But the big highlight of the weekend easily came at the tail-end of the last day.  As I’m setting up for the second day, Hal Stern of Amphibimen stopped by my table.  I had sold his son a book and one of my Rush prints yesterday, and he asked for one himself.  I happily obliged.  Then he said “Hey, me and my sons were going to see Rush tonight at Madison Square Garden and we got an extra ticket.  Wanna go?”


So in the end I got to see my favorite band FOR FREE in one of the best venues in America.  They were playing Moving Pictures in its entirety at this show, and let me tell you “The Camera Eye” takes on a whole new meaning in New York City.  After the success of the Rush prints at C2E2 and now this, it’s like Rush are my comic con guardian angels.  I can’t thank Hal enough for inviting me along.

I flew back to Chicago the next day, and most of the cash I had made went to the cab ride home.  At this point I was thoroughly exhausted from running all over the city, and from surviving on burgers and coffee for three days.  I crashed from the jet lag and promptly made myself a decent meal upon awakening.

Thank you New York!  And now for your enjoyment, a brief glimpse of what I beheld on that Sunday night.