MOCCA 2004 was quite the exciting experience.  Sadly I did not get to indulge in the concept of two days of independent comix fun, but the Sunday I did get in was quite entertaining and more tiring than I expected.  I always seem to forget how running around a con floor and slowly stuffing your bag with postcards, pins, posters, free comics and purchased comics can be after 3-5 hours.  Itís not just the walking around and carrying, itís the keeping attention to enjoy yourself to the fullness, as youíre capable.  I got to say hello to lots of folks and got to see plenty of previews and such.  I even got to see some of the upcoming Adult Swim cartoon, The Venture Brothers.  Other great previews were the full illustrated (but still lacking script) of Brian Wood & Dean Haspielís Vampirella story and seeing some pages from Bizarro 2, including a M. Wartella story written by Evan Dorkin, some art for childrenís book by Myatt Murphy and Scott Dalrymple (of Fade From Blue). 

These were just some of the highlights.  A lot of it is hard to properly describe.  Just lots of conversations with many of the folks who did the work in the upcoming reviews as well as other folks. 

These two fellow convention goers gave me one of the better stickers Iíve ever received; itís an ďOut Loud For KerryĒ sticker.  Yes, thereís a gay support for John Kerry sticker.  That is very cool.

Now a bit of review time of the books I decided to shell out what little money I do have on.  Now know before hand that I didnít plan on buying much and I wasnít planning on really trying out new creators, as my budget really wouldnít allow for it.

Lionelís Lament: This experimental work by Dean Haspiel & Josh Neufeld (who I had the privilege of interviewing) that originally appeared on was collected by the boys in a late night Kinkoís effort to sell at the con.  Itís not your regular type of work.  The non-scripted switching between Josh & Dean every two panels makes for a very psychedelic frenzy of weirdness and confusion.  What is undeniable is that despite having such diverse styles, they compliment each other amazingly.  Itís the type of work that is almost more a testament to their continuing friendship than the power of creative spirit.  Itís that too though.  Iím not sure how anyone would get their hands on a copy of the book, Iíd guess e-mail Josh at his website.  You could also go spend $2.95 and read it online along with tons of other comics over at Serializer.



Royal Flush #3: The Number Foundation are a bunch of crazy mfers.  On top of the main contributors being members of the raucous band The Spicy Rizzaks, they are hilarious writers and illustrators.  From the Mitzvah 4 to Hispanic Batman and interviews with Y2J Chris ďLionheartĒ Jericho, their third issue has/had it all.  Including a CD with plenty other crazy bands.  Youíll laugh, youíll scream, youíll shout, youíll break things; youíll have sex and end up in jail with a bottle of beer stuck in your butt and a cigarette in your mouth while begging for tits (meth) and then a clown will smack you.  Then youíll be let out for parole because you shived a commanding officer who had fucked the wardenís wife and do it all again.  This is a Royal Flush and itís a blast and a half.


Astronaut Elementary & Teen Boat #5: Dave Roman and John Green are two my other favorite folks in comics next to Dean & Josh and plenty other folks, but the Quicken Forbidden guys are way up there.  Daveís new book (less than a year old) Astronaut Elementary is a hilarious and fun loving collection of short bits of students at a school in space.  There are already established characters in the first three minis that collect the strips from Girl-A-Matic and they are a wonderful collection of characters.  Dave has a simplistic, but endearing art style that is just so adorable that reading his work is just a joy.  When not drawing his stuff, John Green draws it and in the most recent issue of Teen Boat, the second chapter of the characterís adventure in France, Dave & John continue the great tale of a young teenager who can become a boat.  John and Dave both come from work in childrenís fields, Dave with Nickelodeon and John with Disney Adventures.  They have a great brain for kids work and it comes across in everything theyíve put out, which has all been excellent work.

Suicide Note Ė A Deep Fried Collection:  I first started enjoying the art of Jason Yungbluth in the Timothy Shea scripted Forever Eve.  His tight pencils blew me away, but it wasnít till issue #3 of that book that everyone including myself discovered that he was also a damn fine writer.  This was all before Deep Fried hit the stands and the world discovered that Jason is also a brilliantly hilarious bastid in the same likes of Evan Dorkin, Kieron Dwyer and Ivan Brunetti.  Iíve written about and pushed and promoted Jason and Deep Fried before and I will continue to do so.  You must go to his website, buy comics and save Nana.  Do it man, save the grandma!  This new mini btw collects some of his excellent Beepo and Roadkill strips from the site with the longest Clarissa story of his yet.  Truly quality humor, you wonít find a mind like Jasonís anywhere but in Jasonís skull.  That doesnít mean you should go and carve Jasonís skull out.  It means you should SAVE NANA!

Onion Head Monster and Hellcar:  Jason Yungbluth recommended the craziness that is Onion Head Monster by Paul Friedrich, so I made a point of paying attention when I got to his table.  I really wasnít planning on checking out anything new as mentioned before at MOCCA.  The fact that Paul had action figure made out of batteries on his table and offered a free issue of Hellcar along with the purchase of his book was incentive enough. 

Tales of Action and Adventure Which Will Leave Your Senses Shattered:  From the man behind the highly praised and absolutely excellent Box Office Poison comes two excellent new stories.  The first one, a fantasy swords & sorcery tale was originally seen in John Kovalicís Dork Tower and follows the story of coin as it passes hands.  The second tale is a realistic story of a young female superhero that also has to still deal with dating, buying food and having money to pay for it (oh and feeding her cat).  Both of them are done in Alexís undeniable fun and interesting style.  With how long his next book TRICKED! Is taking (although hopefully done before the end of the year), this mini-book is nice offering of new work to tide me over.  Iíve been reading Alex Robinsonís work since issue 2 of BOP the MINI-comic, which didnít actually start the main BOP story that most BOP fans are familiar with.  Iím glad to see Alex can still take breaks and offer material like this while finishing up his next epic.

The Justice Seven: Erik Craddock had used my review of his earlier work on his website and for that I am as gratified as he was by my words.  His latest offering is super hero pastiche.  Some would say thatís not entirely original and they'd be right itís not.  Super hero parodies are old school, especially parodies of the JLA.  What makes the parody different is Erikís purely awesome art style.  He continues to impress with what his hands can do with pencil and ink and I recommend this highly among with his previous work.  One day this guy will be offered an Image one-shot or a DC Elseworlds or something and youíll have wished youíd jumped on the bandwagon when you could.

Gabgagol! #5 and #SiXXX (Hedonism):  Artist Mike Dawson told me that they (co-writer Chris Radtke and he) would be taking a break now that this storyline has been finished.  In an interview with my buddy Rich Watson they actually said that theyíd need to stop if sales on the number six arenít killer.  Itís quite a shame, as I will truly miss the misadventures of Chris, Rich and Vinnie.  Gabagoolís first two issues were minis and brilliant minis they were.  Radtke would sell these gems at cons with a fervor calling them the funniest comics ever.  Itíd be hard to argue.  They are absolutely hilarious and wonderfully drawn.  Not only that, but in issue SiXXX, those three XXXís are necessary.  Tits galore are seen, as is penis, and all it is tasteful in the most tasteless tasteful manner possible.  Drug use is attacked as well.  Swingers.  All that good stuff youíd think about when you think about Jamaica.  Booty and orgies.  What everyone dreams of, even when they wonít admit!  Dawson and Radtke deliver and donít let it slow down for a minute.  Donít be gone too long from regular comics and the Gabagool! guys.


On top of these comics paid for there were plenty of freebies.  Post cards, fliers short minis, just independent love galore.    Funny Times gave out tons of their Texas Homegrown Dope, as well as a copy of their book.  Fool Factory was giving away some awesome material.  Elena Steier had a political comic of hers called Eating Uday on the table, I personally am a huge fan of her Vampire Bed & Breakfast, so this was a nice treat.  There were tons more material making the event totally worth it.

Rounding out things were the awesome sketches I got and here they are for your viewing pleasure (sadly my scanner is on the fritz and my digital cam is unkind at times, but you can see these pieces just fine):

Nick Bertozzi

Steve Ciancerrelli

John Green

Jason Yungbluth

Evan Dorkin

Eric Shanower

Alex Robinson

Pete Stathis

Erik Craddock

Erik Craddock

Amanda Conner

Pat Giles

Mike Dawson

Sam Henderson

Dean "Dino" Haspiel

Batton Lash

Josh Neufeld

Eric Rodriguez

Chris McCulloch

Dave Roman