RuPaul's Drag Race: The Cartoon? And Other Gay Highlights From MoCCA Fest
(P Craig Russell at the Lexington Avenue Armory)
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s moccany.org MoCCA Fest took over the Lexington Avenue Armory this past weekend with a refreshing and hip alternative to the mainstream superhero-y Comic-Con. Now in its 10th year, MoCCA Fest showcases indie and eclectic comic work and has long been a safe haven for queer artists. Out comic artist P. Craig Russell was this year’s guest of honor and spent time signing his latest edition of Oscar Wilde Fairy Tales adaptations, The Happy Prince. A frequent collaborator with comics deity/author Neil Gaiman (on several Sandman comics and the queer-themed graphic novel, Murder Mysteries), he’s currently at work adapting Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
There was a bevy of work by scrappy LGBT indie upstarts and newcomers which included Meg Powers’ gleefully perverse Taking it to the Bone; Adrian James’ porn-y Phantom Brain; Olivia Fox’s arty binary zine; Morgan Boecher’s comedic and autobiographical What’s Normal Anyway? about settling into his new identity as a transgender male; Sasha Steinberg’s Stonewall” which dramatizes the events and drag queens leading up to the 1969 Stonewall riot in retro comic style; and Chad Sell’s Manta-Man—featuring a superhero who transforms into a manta ray—and colorful 30 Queens, compiling his wildly popular online illustrations of RuPauls Drag Race competitors (it started when he drew Season Three’s Raja and Delta, who were duly impressed and Tweeted them).
Many familiar queer comics faces were also on hand hawking new wares, like Bill Roundy with two volumes of Bar Scrawl, compilations of his insanely entertaining illustrated reviews of Brooklyn bars for The Brooklyn Paper. Kris Dressen debuted She Said, imagining a lesbian romance between two alter-egos based on different sides of her personality. San Francisco’s MariNaomi, whose excellent 2011 Kiss and Tell graphic novel chronicled her date, crush, and sex life through age 22 (and won praise from Armistead Maupin), had a couple of new zines. She said a Kiss follow-up is in the works, and slipped us a letter she wrote for the Rumpus program, Letters in the Mail, which sends subscribers weekly dispatches written by the likes of Margaret Cho and Stephen Elliott.
Other highlights included a trailblazing comic compilation from Beirut, Samandal, which features queer-inclusive, trilingual contributions from international and Middle East creators. J.T. Yost’s Losers Weepers, which incorporates actual found items, like letters to prisoners and journal pages, in its tragic-comic tales. Tyrell Cannon’s creepy Gary is based on the life of the Green River Killer. Publisher Drawn & Quarterly debuted Guy Delisle’s newest lost-in-translation-y travelogue, Jerusalem. Batman received a subversive skewing in Josh Simmons’ gleefully un-PC The Furry Trap (another of its screwy adults-only tales involves a rape-happy elf). Traps’s publisher, Fantagraphics Books, will release volume three of excellent gender-bending coming-of-age Manga series, Wandering Son, this summer, along with a queer comics compilation edited by San Francisco’s Justin Hall, No Straight Lines.
Even Russell came away with some new discoveries. “I feel like a fan being here,” he confessed, showing off a book about an adorable zombie. “I’m finding stuff I had no idea was out there. I'm having a lot of fun.”
(Chad Sell's 30 Queens)