Editor's Note: Alex Dueben, who writes articles for Comic Book Resources, The Comics Journal and Suicide Girls, shared with us the following guide to other things you can do in New York City while you're in town for the MoCCA Festival.
by Alex Dueben
New York is the city that never sleeps and while you visit the city for this weekend’s MoCCA Festival, neither should you! Just kidding. There is a lot to do in the city that is comics-related not going on at the festival and you should make time to check out while you’re there. Time is short, and most of your cash will be going to buy comics, but here are a few suggestions of things to do while you’re in the city when you’re not at the festival or at the MoCCA Official Afterparty.
“Diary of a Teenage Girl.” We’ll start with this show since it is based on a graphic novel (and not a just “a” graphic novel but a GREAT graphic novel) and the lobby of the show features artwork by Phoebe Gloeckner. Sean Collins reviewed the show when it first opened and fittingly MoCCA weekend will be its final weekend. Great reviews all around (even the New York Times loved it). Star and writer Marielle Heller spent a lot of time and energy getting it off the ground and it was definitely worth it. Go out and show some solidarity for indie comics. A must see event!
“Samuel and Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War” at the Brick Theater. The play has it all: Love. Friendship. Robot wars. With a title like that, does it really require much in the way of a description?
“The Addams Family.” Charles Addams’ family brought to life by two of Broadway’s greatest stars, Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth and music from Andrew Lippa. Reviews have been mixed but it’s hard to gather more talent together than this show has. Deserves props just for trying to go back to Charles Addams’ original cartoons for inspirations and not television or movies. Here’s hoping they capture some of Addam’s magic.
“Stuffed and Unstrung.” I’m not even going to try to sell you on this NYC version of the Henson company’s acclaimed “Puppet Up” shows in Los Angeles. If puppets plus improv doesn’t make you want to see this show, I don’t know what will.
“Promises, Promises” is a 1968 musical with a book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David. I know, not your typical geek fare, but this musical revival stars Kristin Chenowith (Emmy and Tony winning actor and singer, late of the great TV show “Pushing Daisies”) and co-stars, among other talents, Katie Finneran. Finneran for those who can’t place the name co-starred in Bryan Fuller’s other late, great, gone-too-soon television show “Wonderfalls.” (and won a Tony for her role in “Noises Off” in addition to acting in, among other projects, the 1990 remake of “Night of the Living Dead”)
“Bellona, Destroyer of Cities” is a multimedia play from Jay Scheib based on Samuel R. Delaney’s legendary novel “Dhalgren.” Dhalgren is one of the great science fiction books of the seventies, and it’s story of violence, shifting identity, family and poetry in a city reeling from an unknown cataclysm is one that has yet to go out of date. As an added bonus, on Friday April 9, Delaney and Scheib will talk after show.
“Alice in Slasherland” is the latest work from the Vampire Cowboys Theater Company, which is a group that, for lack of a better term, is a group of theater geeks who don’t know why theater can’t be as geeky and pop culture drenched as anything else and it would really liven up the evening if there was some awesome fight scenes. Qui Nguyen and Robert Ross Parker remain two of the smartest geeks anywhere and they’ve managed to translate that love into something radically colorful and unique.
Tim Burton at the Museum of Modern Art. If you’re even slightly a fan of Burton, you should definitely check out this show which ends this month. While you’re at MOMA, feel free to check out the other major exhibitions. One that might be of interest and could help get some creative juices flowing is “Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront,” a re-imagining of the New York waterfront in light of rising ocean levels and climate change. As a fan of the artists, I’d also like to recommend “Monet’s Warterlilies,” “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century,” and “William Kentridge: Five Themes.” And while you’re there be sure not to miss “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” a new work by the artist plus a retrospective of her career which is rare for a performance artist in that she often creates work that is truly shocking but work that is also thoughtful, and even beautiful sometimes as it troubles you.
“Charles Addams’s New York” at the Museum of the City of New York. A look at the great New Yorker cartoonist behind the Addams Family and a strange vision of New York itself. If all you know of Addams is the movies or television shows, you owe it to yourself to check out the real thing.
The Whitney Biennial. This year the exhibition includes Robert Williams, who among many other things in a long career that’s included time working for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, designing psychedelic poster art, and founding Juxtapoz magazine, was a member of Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix Collective. The six watercolors in the show aren’t Williams as his best, his best work is his oil paintings, but it’s nice that the Whitney acknowledged a man who’s far better known to the world at large than the other members of the show, even if the art world doesn’t always give him the respect he deserves or that the larger world accords him.
At MoCCA we’re all coming out for a look at the future of comics, but what about a look at the past and the origins of the art form. Go to the Japan Society and check out the show “Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. Miller Collection.” Kuniyoshi was an amazing image maker and a man who worked around censorship his entire career. The images range from the humorous to the hallucinogenic but all are stunning. Even cooler, the Japan Society has a mangaka in residence, Hiroki Otsuka, who will teach classes and craft an original full length that will incorporate a lot of Kuniyoshi’s imagery
MoCCA itself has two shows going on at the moment. “Dash Shaw: Making the Abyss,” a look at the cartoonist behind the recent acclaimed titles “Bottomless Belly Button,” “BodyWorld” and more, and “NeoIntegrity” Comics Edition” which includes work by more cartoonists than we can mention. Check it out.