Diner Talk – The MOCCA Report

This week’s Diner Talk once again steps away from the world of interviewing and dinering, but goes deep into the heart of Manhattan to a place called Mocca. If you are really hankering for some more hot interviewing action, join us here in a week or two as I am working on 3 higher level interviews for this spot here at Comics Nexus. For now though, let’s go to New York.

For the uninitiated (and trust me, I was until about two weeks ago) the MOCCA is the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art.


No, idiot. Liefeld was not there. That wouldn’t be a museum, that would be my own personal hell. Here is the mission statement right from their website to let you know what they’re about

The main goal of the museum will be to educate the public about comic and cartoon art, how it is crafted, and how it reflects history. What does the art tell us about the time period that it was created in? How does it stand the test of time? What First Amendment issues regarding content come into play? How does censorship determine what is (and isn’t) published? – CREDIT: http://www.moccany.org

So my partner in crime, Danielle O’Brien, and I got dressed to the nines and headed to Soho on the opening night of their first public exhibit. The exhibit itself was entitled: Toon Town: New York City In Comic & Cartoon Art. The entire theme of the show was how influential New York was on the comics/cartooning scene from the 19th century until today.

The show didn’t disappoint either, with works from the early days of Dick Tracy and Mary Worth through the days of Will Eisner and Jack Kirby, ending somewhere around now with the comparative imagery of Gotham City as New York City (with a beautiful page done by Klaus Janson)- there was alot to be seen in their modestly sized gallery.

As the night wore on, the crowd picked up and walking got a bit harder. I leaned down to Danielle and whispered, “Isn’t it amazing – here we are amongst what is probably a room full of comic artists, writers, and publishers – and we have no idea.” She agreed with me as I stood up and took another scope of the room, laughing I leaned back down.
“I mean, I could just turn my head and there would be Frank Miller standing at the drink counter or something.”
“Yeah Jamie, but we would know if Frank Miller was here.” She laughed.
“Of course we would, especially since he’s right over there.”
“So he is!” And there he was.

Their Head of Communications, Ali Kokmen, was nice enough to spend a few minutes talking with us about the gallery itself and the future projects. He spoke quite excitedly about how they were proud that the first show they brought in was an ode to New York, given it’s long history as being a hotbed of the industry – specifically it’s fledgling years. He then told us about how they were working on bringing the museum to schools and had begun bringing classes in to see the exhibit and were going to try and work with as many educational programs as possible the bigger they grew.

Not being limited to scope, Ali said in the future the projects currently on the burners was a gallery about cartooning during WWII, and a Wil Eisner Career Retrospective. “The benefit,” he said, “is that with this kind of museum, we are not limited to any one theme and we can work with a scope broad or small.”

This piece was if anything, amazing to see first hand – for those unaware there was a shortlived musical for the Man of Steel. Considered laugable, it still happened right there in the Big Apple

Now the things I got photos of were the comic book memorabilia, but don’t think that it ends there. The gallery also featured video pieces of New York Mayor Fiorello, who read comics over the radio to kids missing out because of the newspaper delivery strike of 1945. The second television was playing the animations by Winsor McCay, best known for ‘Little Nemo’. In another corner was more of the underground ‘comix’ scene featuring R. Crumb and Paul Pope. Add to this all of the animation work, including pieces from Max Fleischer’s ‘Betty Boop’ cartoons – it was an animation and comic fan’s wet dream.

This particular show will be running from now until late April and supports a good cause in the museum, so you should go check it out. Until we meet again, this is your favorite Nexus personality, James Hatton, saying we’ll see you at the Diner. Here are a couple of photos that I really couldn’t place into the column, but I’m sure you would want to see them anyway.

What a Bullpen is!
Alex Ross Piece
Harvey Comics & The Green Hornet

Thanks again, and we’ll see you next time!