MomoCon is an animation, game, and comic fan convention held annually in Atlanta, Georgia in May. It is also one of the fastest growing conventions in the country. While MomoCon initially may appear to be like many other conventions, what makes MomoCon truly unique is its willingness to accept smaller, often independent artists and vendors and showcase them. That being said, MomoCon also attracts some relatively mainstream content, but the resultant mix of the well-known and hidden gems creates an experience well worth your time.
On the press-only day, MomoCon presented many different events and panels for patrons to enjoy, but not all of it was truly noteworthy. Naturally, the selection was extensive, so finding the cream of the crop was my mission. Luckily, I was able to locate some incredible artists in “Artists’ Alley,” some unique vendors on the main floor, and some rather impressive games and throwbacks in the gaming section.
In Artists’ Alley, there were a vast number of artists patiently enduring the wait until someone asked about their work, which ranged from comics to stickers to plushies, and almost anything else a multi-genre convention could possibly offer in the way of artistic creations and crafts. Tables had been made available to artists on a first-come, first-served basis, allowing smaller creators just as much of an opportunity to present their work to fans as larger companies. Unfortunately, despite the wide array of offerings, the artists did not receive as much attention as the panels and vendors, likely due to their location at the far end of the main floor. The lack of initial interest, however, did not reflect the quality of the artistic works, and there were several intriguing and unique creations that stood from the crowd.
First on the list is J.R. Mounts, the creative mind behind Scairy Tales Noir, a project that creates a wide variety of quirky and humorous comics. (Their website makes it very clear it is mandatory you spell scary with an “I,” combining the words “scary” and “fairy tales.”) The stories that Scairy Tales Noir bring to the public focus on all things “spooky,” with a slice of satire added to the mix. Their website describes their namesake production, Scairy Tales, as “Calvin and Hobbes meets The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Slap on top of that an art style similar to Captain Underpants, and you’ll end up with Mounts’s incredible works.
Additionally, another of their titles, Fried Pickle Noir, is describes by them as “Sin City meets Veggie Tales.” So if you want to check out the pulped fiction case files of Q. Cumbersome, P.I. aka the Pickled Investigator, be sure to check out the Scairy Tales website and take a gander at the comic strips. Mounts’s art and narrative craft is robust and unique.
Another standout was About Time Comics (ATC), represented at MomoCon by Eric Dotson. While this independent publisher offers two other titles (Dreamer, In-Flight Service), at the con the team focused on presenting the series that tells the story of its namesake, the remarkable superhero Godsend, nemesis of both the demons of Hell and the criminal rings of Earth. The art style may seem familiar if you’re a comic fan. Why? Because Lee Jiles, the Godsend cover artist, is a relatively well-known artist who has worked for the ever-so-popular DC Comics. While Godsend‘s art is quite clean, it is immensely detailed, from character design to the backgrounds in each panel. For a clear character representation, think Paladin/Crusader Batman, smiting his enemies with a holy blade rather than Batarangs. To get a better representation of their work, check out ATC’s website.
The last title that stood out as one that comic fans should definitely check out was Dust Bunny, one of the titles published by Basement City Productions. It’s an innovative piece of work written by Brett Brooks that has an old-time gangster movie feel to it. It provides a complex, yet easy-to-follow story that leverages classic comic characters and settings in a unique way. For instance, the main character, Dust (who is, in fact, a bunny), has an extremely inquisitive personality, but at the same time, is quite level-headed in tight situations. A somewhat typical, yet classic type of protagonist. The antagonist, Aiden Flint, on the other hand, is an overly confident corporate man (well, not really a man), carefully plotting his takeover of the city, but let’s just say he does it with a twist. As for environments, the city alone looks as if it is made out of cardboard boxes in an old dusty garage. While some characters appear “mutant-like,” they have some notable characteristics and personalities resembling the archetypes seen in works like Cowboy Bebop. While not giving away too much, Dust Bunny is worth checking out if you like intricate and well-planned suspense-based plots.
In addition to Dust Bunny, Basement City also creates Deuces Wild, The Exterminators, and How to Kill a Spider. Deuces is a new series, and was close behind Dust Bunny in terms of initial appeal. Definitely a promising series just from the early copies I was lucky enough to see, Deuces Wild is a graphic novel, also by Brett Brooks, that takes you to a high-tech world of war and war crimes. The characters will especially remind you of Starfox at first glance, and for very good reason. Brooks admitted that Starfox has always been a heavy inspiration for his work, and he has very high hopes for Deuces Wild. Be sure to check it out if you’re a fan of anthropomorphized characters and a sleek art style.
In addition to the art displays available in Artists’ Alley, MomoCon also offered a massive array of merchandise vendors on the main floor. That being said, many vendors offered the same products; some even had them for higher prices than others. Once again, MomoCon’s first-come, first served vendor sign-up process allowed for a wide range of goods to be available, from clearly mass-produced merchandise to uniquely handcrafted items being sold by their creators.
One of the most noteworthy vendors at MomoCon was Hatcore. Harper and Michael, the company’s CEO’s and crafters, offer incredible hat, plushie, and hoodie designs covering a multitude of genres: Marvel heroes, DC heroes, pop culture, animals, gaming, Pokemon, you name it! They create their pieces individually using high-quality non-pill fleece, and offer custom designs in addition to a wide range of items that feature characters or styles that are fan favorites. Their hats are their main product and they come in a variety of styles. The main options are plain, beanie, or with ears: cat ears, bunny ears, fox ears, or bear ears. While plain hats are available, their main element that causes their work to stand out is the way they incorporate references to specific characters on each hat. For instance, if you love Appa from The Last Airbender, you can purchase a hat with the easily recognized downward-facing brown arrow and tall black horns. All of Hatcore’s products feature some unique aspect or enhancement that brings the character to life. On your head. As a hat.
If showing your love of a specific character or franchise in cozy hat-form sounds like your jam, be sure to check Hatcore’s website to browse the available styles or to contact Harper and Michael to request a custom design. They even do cosplay tails and gloves!
The next vendor that drew a great deal of warranted attention was Glitch Gaming Apparel. They are fairly well-known throughout the gaming community, as the t-shirts, hats, and keychains they offer are usually of high quality and incorporate aspects of the games people love. Glitch Gaming Apparel went the extra mile at MomoCon, sporting a massive variety of merchandise from Borderlands 2. Their offerings included different shirts and hats representing many of our favorite weapon manufacturers such as Maliwan, Jakobs and, of course, Hyperion. Additionally, Glitch had a fully functional talking plush Claptrap for sale! Just by putting the vocal piece, as seen in-game, to Claptrap’s eye, you could get Claptrap to say one of his many ear-piercing phrases. Personally, I love his quirky comments, but some could get annoyed with this particular plush rather fast. Or even take a hammer to it.
Glitch Gaming Apparel also offers apparel that allows you to show your love of several other popular games, such as Assassin’s Creed IV, Portal 2, and Bioshock Infinite, to name just a few. They also have a few of their own unique designs that represent some of the shared experiences of gamers, such as the “Big Sword Crossing” t-shirt (complete with a silhouette easily recognizable as a character type found in any classic Japanese RPG). Be sure to check out their website to see the full range of titles their merchandise represents, or even play a classic arcade game in their Glitch Arcade!
Speaking of games, while MomoCon caters to fandoms of many genres, the Gaming Hall offered a massive range of opportunities to play games, watch tournaments, or get signatures from some of noted celebrity guests. Some of the tournaments hosted included Super Smash Brothers Melee, League of Legends, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and the most recent Super Smash Brothers as well. In addition to prizes offered by video game company partners, some of the pool prizes exceeded $700, so someone certainly went home happy by the final night.
In addition to the tournament events, an entire section of the gaming floor was dedicated to old-school arcade games, giant bulky machines and all. MomoCon staff partnered with Tokyo Attack and the Southern Fried Gameroom Expo to offer a wide range of arcade games, including the original Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man, Dance Dance Revolution 2014 and Extreme, and my all-time favorite, the original Rampage.
But before I go off on a tangent about how phenomenal Rampage was and is, I did manage to tear myself from the game long enough to check out some of the newer independent games. Again, MomoCon had a robust selection of fresh game companies on the floor, so it was exciting to see what independent projects were in the works. Ranging from recently published Steam games to newly greenlit titles, the gaming section drew many crowds, but with such a wide variety, not every game was worth spending much time on.
However, Rollers of the Realm was one of the few that did draw a pretty hefty crowd, and for good reason. Rollers of the Realm is produced by Phantom Compass, and it combines two very unlikely genres elements together: pinball and RPG. At first, it sounds relatively strange – even I was skeptical at first – but as I sat down to play, I really did find a hidden gem. Truly one of the most innovative games I’ve seen in a while, Rollers of the Realm not only brings back the pinball genre but includes astounding RPG elements, such as gathering a party, using special skills for each class, and even purchasing equipment to alter stats for specific characters of your party. With all this in mind, Rollers of the Realm still successfully represents a true pinball game, with a fully developed story and puzzles to solve. Rollers of the Realm is already released and available on Steam if the description peaks your interest.
Another noteworthy mention is the recently greenlit title Midboss brought to us by Kitsune Games. Midboss offers a 2D strategy game with a unique plot, and some even more unique game mechanics. You start as a lowly minion in a dungeon, bullied by all the other creatures within it. You’re basically the bottom of the food chain, and nobody respects you. Eventually, your character gets fed up and decides to take a stand. You make the ballsy decision to take over the dungeon, but in order to achieve this, you must fight your way up and steal your enemies’ forms. Using the acquired forms, you must exploit your enemies’ weaknesses, analyze stats, and make the proper decisions in order to progress. It’s definitely reminiscent of some aspects of Pokemon in that regard.
The game is still in the early stages of development and sports a graphic style similar to Terraria. If these two aspects are a turnoff for you, then pay this game no mind. However, if you’re into strategy, Midboss looks quite promising based on the stages it already has completed. You can learn more about their development plans on their website.
But a large amount of attention was given to the ‘under-the-radar’ title, Default Dan, where the game play elements are anything but default. In this twisted side-scrolling platformer, you’ll instantly notice similarities to Mario Bros… but don’t be fooled. Default Dan has practically taken everything from those old school games and reimagined it, playing with player expectations in a fun and interesting way. Basically, everything that is usually good is now bad. Everything that is usually bad is now good. Makes sense, right? For example, hearts will kill you, picking up coins causes you to explode, bottomless pits will loop you back to the top of the map, spikes bounce your character higher — you get the idea. Even the story is flip-flopped; the main villain in this game is the Princess! Dan has to do all that he can to bring her down.
While the backwards mentality might be a bit difficult to grasp at the start (seeing as how you have to completely unlearn every gaming stereotype established since the NES days), after you gain a clear understanding of it, the game itself is actually extremely fun and challenging in later levels. You may find yourself in one spot for up to 30+ minutes, trying to conquer one seemingly simple puzzle. From an entertainment standpoint, this game delivers, so check out Default Dan on Steam if it sounds like a challenge you’ve been looking for.
However, of all the games on the floor, the largest crowds were primarily drawn to Brawlhalla, the 2D Steam beat-em-up that has been relatively popular for a while now. If you’re unfamiliar with the title, it’s basically a PC version of Super Smash Bros. with different weapons and characters. The somewhat derivative nature of the game doesn’t make it any less fun, so if you enjoy this style of game, definitely check it out. It’s well worth the time, as evidenced by the attention it received at MomoCon and the overwhelmingly positive reviews it has on Steam (a whopping 95%!).
While any convention offers far more to attendees than a single article can cover, if you want to see an amazing range of both big names and independent games, comics, and vendor creations, MomoCon is more than worth attending, and you should definitely start planning to attend MomoCon 2016!
This has been exclusive coverage from MOTD Media; for more coverage of the cons-to-come, keep your peepers on us, and we’ll keep you well informed.
Disclosure: As a member of MOTD Media, I was invited to MomoCon for the purpose of review. However, no financial compensation was given, and all opinions are unique to me, based upon my first-hand experiences at the convention.
Image 1 © 2014 MomoCon, LLC.
Image 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 © 2015 MOTD Media
Image 4 © 2015 About Time Comics
Image 6 © 2015 Deuces Wilds Comics
Image 9 © 2015 Hatcore
Image 11 © 2015 Phantom Compass
Image 12 © 2015 Valve, Kitsune Games
Image 13 © Kikiwik Games
Image 14 © Blue Mammoth Games