MoCCA 2009: 'Mourning Star' Debuts, 'Stuffed' Previews, 'Too Cool' Movie And More...

Mocca 2009It's been two straight weekends of conventions, folks -- and the season's only getting started. This weekend, a crowd of comic creators, publishers and fans arrived in town for the annual MoCCA Festival, and while there wasn't nearly as many movie- and television-related projects to speak of in comparison with Book Expo America, that doesn't mean the two-day event was bereft of pleasant surprises.

By far, the biggest news to come out of the event arrived via a short conversation I had with Top Shelf Productions publisher Chris Staros, who told me that "Synecdoche, New York" producer Anthony Bregman had picked up the adaptation rights to Alex Robinson's graphic novel "Too Cool To Be Forgotten." Much like last weekend's BEA, however, I ended up bringing home a pile of books from MoCCA -- and decided to post a picture of some of the highlights here, along with some notes on both the books and the show itself.

MoCCA 2009

Clockwise, from top-left corner:

- For some reason, post-apocalyptic stories developed into a trend for me this year. Brian Ralph's "Daybreak" is a must-have series for anyone who's a fan of the "Dawn of the Dead" and "I Am Legend" survival-horror genre. It uses a second-person narrative that puts the reader into the story, encountering a one-armed drifter working his way across a landscape filled with mysterious, deadly creatures (I'm not sure if they're zombies, vampires or something else entirely).

I'd been meaning to pick it up for ages, and only remembered to do so this time around due to Ralph's table being located near another post-apocalyptic comic that I planned to pick up at the show... but more on that in a few.

Stuffed- "Stuffed" isn't out until September, but publisher First Second Books was kind enough to give me an advance copy of the book, which features a story by "The Colbert Report" writer Glenn Eichler and celebrated artist Nick Bertozzi ("American Splendor"). We covered this project on Splash Page quite a bit when it was first announced back in September 2008, and I'm eager to jump into it now that I have a copy in my hands.

- I had a great chat with webcomics pioneer Cat Garza at one point during the show, and ended up with a copy of his "Secrets & Lies" anthology. It's a beautiful collection of work from comics artists old and, in some cases, very young -- but all supremely talented.

- Award-winning creator Hope Larson ("Chiggers") didn't have a new book to show off at this year's show, but she did have these great postcards advertising her next project, "Mercury." She also shared a great story with Fleen editor Gary Tyrrell and I about the perils of hosting a pre-Mocca, ladies-only art show in the same bar as a speed-dating event being held in a nearby room. *shudder*

- One of the weekend's most buzzed-about books, the second volume of Kazimir Strzepek's "The Mourning Star" made its debut at MoCCA this year. This was the aforementioned post-apocalyptic tale that brought me over to the far corner of the convention floor, and despite a three-year break between the first and second volumes, it doesn't disappoint.

Strzepek has managed to create a very "Lord of the Rings"-style epic in just two volumes of the series, which tells a story of life on a strange world after the cataclysmic impact of the "Heaven Star" comet. Filled with mysterious heroes, villains and a massive cast of characters, the series is well worth chasing down. It was the first book I started reading this weekend after I returned from MoCCA, and I ended up not leaving my couch until I'd finished it.

Robot 13- Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford's new series "Robot 13: The Colossus" also made its debut during MoCCA, and surprised the heck out of me with how much I enjoyed it. Both the story and art seemed terribly similar to Mike Mignola's "Hellboy" tales at first, but after the reading through the issue, it definitely has its own unique tone (again, in both in the art and story) and narrative pacing that make it feel like a very different -- and very good -- series. I was really impressed with it, and this is certainly one to keep an eye on.

As for some of the other elements of the show worth noting:

- Artist Adam Wallenta was on hand to show off the newly released first volume of the "Public Enemy" comic book series.

- I finally managed to connect with the creators of one of my favorite webcomics out there, "Alien Loves Predator," which Bernie Hou recently returned to after a brief, battery-recharging hiatus. It's the best comic you'll ever read about an Alien and a Predator co-habitating in a New York City apartment. Seriously.

- I also met up with award-winning artist Joe Infurnari, who served as lead artist on the "Earth 2100" special that aired on ABC News last week. It was one of the most popular stories of the week here on Splash Page, so be sure to check it out now if you missed it.

Dr. McNinja- "The Adventures of Dr. McNinja" creator Chris Hastings offered some reaction to my recent "Adapt This" column -- particularly my questionable casting suggestions. Let it be known that Hastings would prefer to see actors Will Arnett ("Arrested Development") or Sam Rockwell ("Iron Man 2") provide the voice of Dr. McNinja in an animated series. (Are we cool now, Chris?)

- Last of all, I finally had a chance to see, in person, Jonathan Rosenberg's upcoming print collection of "Goats," the long-running webcomic he authors that was picked up for publication by Random House last summer. A surreal, beer-soaked tale of adventures through time, space and bars of varying liquor quality, "Goats: Infinite Typewriters" will hit shelves later this month -- and I can't wait to add it to my bookshelf.

That's it for my MoCCA report, folks. If there's anything (or anyone) I missed, be sure to let me know in the comment section. I'd love to hear from you!