When Museums Cohabitate.

Batman, detail, original art by Tommy Castillo.

I was sorry to hear of MoCCA’s near-death experience. I’ve met some interesting people at the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art in lower Manhattan. I ran into Prof. Bill Foster there, the expert on the portrayal of African-Americans in comics. He came to Kutztown to share his presentation, “Looking for a Face Like Mine.”

Underworld © KAZ (Kazimieras G. Prapuolenis)

Last summer MoCCA went broke and closed its doors overnight. MoCCA scrambled for a refuge to “transfer their assets”  and keep the name alive. The call was answered by the venerable Society of Illustrators. The MoCCA collection moved uptown to the townhouse walls at the Society of Illustrators, 128 E.63rd St.

Anelle Miller & Dennis Dittrich of the Society of Illustrators.

I was at the 2012 Educator’s Symposium at the Society and met Dennis Dittrich, President, and Anelle Miller, Executive Director, and asked about the MoCCA adoption process. Dennis, whose own humorous illustration style leans toward the cartoony, loves the new acquisitions. He told me the merger happened so fast, “it turned on a dime” and he felt like “a blacksmith on the freeway entrance.”

Homage to Norman Rockwell © R Sikoryak for the Comics Journal

Dennis and Anelle consulted attorneys to make sure MoCCA’s liabilities would not haunt their organization. The merger still needs final approval from the NY Board of Regents. I knew the NY State Board or Regents was responsible for universities, but Anelle explained the Regents’ mandate also includes museums and other non-profits.

MoCCA Hellboy © Mike Mignola

What’s in it for the Society?  Wonderful original artwork from comic books, comics strips, and gag cartoons. Dennis says an unexpected benefit is the new blood of MoCCA’s passionate fan base. The Society is now hosting “Dare to Draw” and Super Hero Sketch classes. Pros are teaching Penciling and Anatomy for Cartoonists. Anelle confirmed that MoCCA fest, the hip NY indy comics con, will happen April 6 & 7, 2013 at the Fighting 69th’s Armory on Lexington Ave. Unlike ComicCon, which is slick and leans toward shameless film promotion, MoCCA fest is the real deal. At MoCCA fest you can still find diamonds in the rough, from Norse graphic novels and Pittsburgh zines to thesis projects from the Center for Cartoon Studies.

The MoCCA Gallery area at Society of Illustrators

The New York Times called the Society of Illustrators one of NY’s five hidden gems. Now they have Batman, Wolverine, and Hellboy originals on the wall. The Society’s Museum of American Illustration may be one of NY’s last free-admission museums. Hours and directions can be found here. I was delighted to see the crackpot strips of my old Hoboken neighbor, Kaz, on the wall. His artwork reminded me of the first time I saw original illustration with my own eyes at the Society of Illustrators. I was so relieved to see eraser marks and retouching with white paint that I was able to get back to the drawing board.

Photo courtesy Society of Illustrators.

Find more info on MoCCA and The Society of Illustrators here.

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