In February, we published an article on upcoming East Coast conventions, and you may remember the Manhattan-based MoCCA Fest. Although there were some fast facts about this event in our conventions article, we thought we would go through things in more detail, so you can decide if you want to start planning for a trip next year!

First of all, the price is definitely right, even if you’re just attending on a whim. The ticket prices sometimes vary from year to year, but it was only $7 this year for adults, free for kids under ten. It gives you access to two good-sized floors of exhibitors and all panel events and lectures.

Part of the reason why the price is so, so right even when it’s over $7 is the guest list. We’ll start with the big names: there’s always a healthy handful. This year, Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and John Leguizamo (Ghetto Klown) were just some of the featured guests. Not only do they host panels, they work their own tables. Obviously, they have handlers, but there are no strict rules about time spent at tables or lines, or anything like that. It’s usually pretty easy to stroll up to even a heavily-surrounded table and just talk to a cartoonist or animator you admire.

The lack of that usual con structure really works at this convention, and it makes the con feel more intimate and natural. Best of all, even the big-names are friendly and willing to chat. You don’t often get that feeling when you’re in a heavily-structured convention, getting ushered along to receive an (expensive!) signature, and then getting ushered out of there.

#mocca arts

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That same feeling spreads to the indie creators, too. Although one may not approach an indie creator with the same shyness they are likely to approach a big-name creator with, it can still be a bit intimidating. However, all of the indie creators I’ve met at this convention are extremely friendly and accommodating, and just as willing to talk. Another great thing about this convention is that many of the same exhibitors return year after year, so it feels like you get to know a community. It’s always fun to see your favorites year after year, and catch up–very often they’ll remember you, too!

This festival can give a great look at the industry and how to get there. Many art colleges in New York will set up tables or scatter brochures around. Some schools have administrators with information, some, like Parsons, will have students selling their artwork and other creations. This is a great event to help feel out your options if you’re on the cusp of college and interested in illustration or other arts programs.

Doodled a baby on this huge cintiq at the #moccafest2018

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Another thing you can get a feel for–although it may be torturous–is the latest tech. One of the sponsors for this event is Wacom, and they always have a huge table in the back. You can play around with the latest tablets, sized from standard to fantasy-worthy.

This festival also excels in other ways, as well. We’ll admit that the two floors MoCCA is on are big, but they aren’t the most expansive exhibition areas ever, especially with the rows of tables. The areas get crowded, especially when panels let out and everyone files back into the main halls. However, there are several couches and tables and chairs on both floors for those in need of a break (a fatigued kid on Saturday had dragged a chair into the elevator next to the control panels and became the unofficial operator). There is also a food area (with vegetarian and vegan options) and an area upstairs where some of the Society of Illustrators‘ exhibits stay up throughout the event weekend. Both areas tend to be emptier and are usually good places to duck into when a break is needed.

Finally, the staff is knowledgeable and will help out if they can. The event itself is well-organized, so many things are down to a science.

Overall, this is one of those cons that is worth a visit, even if there aren’t any major events or guests that jump out at you automatically (though, to be honest, we think you’ll see at least a couple things you can’t resist). Chances are you’ll leave with new artistic favorites as well as some great pieces of art! The only downside of this event is how crowded it can get, but if you time your visit carefully (I.E., during panels), you can avoid most of the heavier crowds.

Dates for MoCCA 2019 haven’t been announced yet. Check out its Twitter account for updates!

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