Superheroes are now more mainstream in Hollywood than comics. It’s not any more a surprise that New York’s Mocca Festival – ten years old – is almost superhero free zone. Mocca is most of all a fair where the whole range of American art comics, or alternative, or – should we say – NEW mainsstream comics is on display. Those comics of which some have penetrated the venerable marketplace of bookstores. The endles tables of small press hopefulls offer a peek to the future. It seems everybody who has managed to print any comics is here – and they are many. It takes long to browse a just glance at everything. So there’s an almost endles amount and variety of new talent and the future seems rosy? Not quite. Yes, the numbers are there, but the variety is surprisingly limited. Just a few years ago American comics seemed to enter a new creative golden age with new exciting artists popping up frequently. But now all the young artists seem to want to be the next Daniel Clowes, except the few who aspire to imitate Chris Ware. For most Ware’s imagination and skill seem to be too great model even to imitate. In this see of conformity and mediocrity you don’t discover fresh talent like Lily Carré every year. Unless you look for something non-American. The Nordic countries have gradually gotten quite a strong foothold in one corner of the 69th Regiment Armory, the current home of Mocca fest. Being a Finn I’m obviously biased to say this, but American comics would seem to be in serious need for an outside inspiration. Finland might be able to help. I’m a journalist but this year at Mocca I doubled as a messenger carrying The Finnish Comics Annual 2012, the second volume of a coffee table size book of some of our finest art comics, this time edited by Reija Sann. It was fun to hand the huge volume out to select publishers and other interesting contacts. The mere size of the book made an obvious impression to most. Hopefully the size gets the attention to the content and that will make the real impact. Meanwhile Mocca seems to be starting to atract more and more foreigners to attend. Samandal Comics came from Libya which is quite new. Mocca has still long way to become an international hotspot similar to the Angoulême Fest in France, but that would be a sensible way to go. The meetings and networking opportunities Angoulême has offered over the years have been essential for getting Finnish comics to the European market. And the Finns have made discoveries there to translate to Finnish. To achieve something similar Mocca should focus more on its program. Now the small section of talks, lectures and panel discussions is just a sidebar to selling comics at the tables of the fair. The exhibitions, when there are any, seem to be organized separate of the festival. Mocca Fest is a fundraiser for the Mocca Museum. That is where the name comes from: The Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art. But unless the program is developed heavily the fest may lose its momentum. It may alreade be late. Many Newyorkers were unhappy and declared there love for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival which is apparently very carefully curated. New York is a practical location and the city has a lot of appeal apart from comics to lure the foreign comics intelligentsia to a special event that will cater for it. So one of these events should be able to become a breeding ground for new international mix of American comics. Text: Harri Römpötti Photos: Fredrik Strömberg (www.sekventiellt.se)
Edited by Ville Hänninen
FINNISH COMICS ANNUAL 2011
(HUUDA HUUDA & The Finnish Comics Society, 2011)
Artists: Terhi Ekebom, Matti Hagelberg, Jyrki Heikkinen, Ina Kallis, Kati Kovács, Reijo Kärkkäinen, Jarno Latva-Nikkola, Hanneriina Moisseinen, Tommi Musturi, Pauliina Mäkelä, Jyrki Nissinen, Ville Pirinen, Aapo Rapi, Jii Roikonen, Jenni Rope, Jukka Tilsa, Marko Turunen, Riitta Uusitalo, Jari Vaara and Amanda Vähämäki
Finnish Comics Annual 2011 is a massive 300-page anthology that launches the yearly publications of the FCA series. Editor Ville Hänninen has picked 20 contemporary artists and examines in his accompanying article the peculiar worlds so often featured in Finnish comics – the worlds which are born at the cross-section of everyday reality and imagination.