The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival was this past Saturday (October 17th) and celebrated its second year. Greenwich Village saw 8th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues transformed by animation, comic, cartoon art, and family projects; not to mention a fun parade featuring the NY Metro Chapter NY Stars Twirling and Marching Band and the Harlem Globetrotters! We were invited to attend the “all on 8th Street” event by friend, Sean Gorman, of Pawn Shop and Toe Tag Riot notoriety, and were sold on the “Next Big Thing Showcase” serving as the perfect New York Comic Con chaser. What I didn’t realize was just how entertaining and special The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival would be and just how much the “Next Big Thing Showcase” extended outside of the confines of The Marlton Hotel, in which Gorman and friends could be found.
The “888 works of art for 8 hours plus an 8-minute parade” is officially described as “a high visibility event” as it’s held on one block of West 8th Street. Be it coming out of the subway or walking through the connecting community, it was difficult to not take notice of the Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival. Despite the brisk weather, there was a nice turnout with more than 100 people alone watching the Harlem Globetrotters entertain the crowds of children. Stumptown, the neighborhood coffee shop at 30 West and 8th Street, was a well trafficked area with a minimum of 50 plus villagers enjoying their beverages.
The 8 hour event, taking place from 10 am to 6 pm, offered many the opportunity to explore the scenic Greenwich Village in a way that felt super secret. While the event never felt exclusive in any way, the ability to walk around 8th street felt privileged and, at times, as if you were walking through an on-location film shoot. Despite being there to see comic artists such as Amy Reeder & Brandon Montclare (Rocket Girl), Amy Chu (Poison Iv, Sensation Comics), and Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home) to name just a few, artists such as Idan Knafo of The Kubert School and Cooper Union alum Jessia Ma were a highlight of the day. Both young artists were a part of the featured schedule of events with Knafo working from 10 am to well past 2 pm on an art wall mural at the corner of 8th Street and 6th Avenue, and Ma’s art as the star attraction at the Rodi Gallery Show on 59 West and 8th Street.
“I like to record the small moments of my life through drawing, rather than photography. Sitting down and making a drawing is an incredibly intimate meditative space, where you can reflect on the scene you chose to depict and why it was important to you. This is my first time showing these drawings in person. I usually post them on Instagram (@jessiabot2000), where each drawing or moment becomes a panel in what I consider to be a large digital comic book.” – Jessia Ma.
Idan Knafo, of the Joe Kubert School, was one of the artists we took a particular liking to. Incredibly gracious and receptive, one of his biggest concerns was that his particular contribution to the wall art was taking longer than his compatriots. His, by far the most interesting to look at, could be seen below.
The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival was nothing short of an impressive event. While there were 19 events scheduled for the day, the absence of the $8 tattoos by Alex McWatt was a disappointment. According to the schedule, the popular artist from Three Kings Tattoo Parlor in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was slated for an appearance at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
*Photography by Steven Biscotti
Despite the disappointment over the $8 tattoos, the Harlem Globetrotters brought a great, welcome energy to the event along with a smile to every child and adult’s face. Not only did they participate in the 8 minute parade on 8th Street as the 2015 Grand Marshals, but they also posed for pictures, signed autographs, and put on a show consisting of their “legendary tricks and comedy.” It was a joy for us to watch so many enjoy such a lively act featuring Cheese Chisolm and Bull Bullard.
As for the main act, the “Next Big Thing Showcase”, I found that The Marlton Hotel was a great spot for the comic artists. In the back of the hotel, situated in a small area, you’d find an elegant setup with tables reminiscent of New York Comic Con’s artist alley. However, this event offered the added benefit of Whistle Pig Punch provided by Whistle Pig Whiskey which many seemed to enjoy. I spoke with Franklin N, who lives in the city, in regards to the Sean Gorman and Friends event. “I do like the concept of it, especially the “underground” feel to it. Comics getting into the mainstream and promoting art especially to kids is great to see. The hotel served as a nice intimate, low-key setting to meet the artists as they promote their work.”
The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival is a highly entertaining annual neighborhood event. Martin Dresner, the president of the Village Alliance, along with William Kelley, the executive director wrote that “if we could sum up the past year of work into two words, it would have to be “connecting community.” There’s a genuine investment that the neighborhood has in itself that is inspiring and moving. Art, in the way it could influence and inspire, is very much what the heart of the village beats. The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival is an event worth checking out as it holds plenty of opportunities for those visiting. Be it watching a stream of classic cartoons at Eva’s Health Food on 11 West and 8th Street or enjoying some time and good food at Burger Joint on 33 West and 8th Street, the Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival will now be an annual event that we look forward to covering again and again.
And it is with our surest of confidences that the “Next Big Thing” isn’t just those selling books and art inside The Marlton Hotel, but the likes of young talents like Jessia Ma and Idan Knafo, who are also the next big thing.
For more information on The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival, you could click this link here.
For more on artist Jessia Ma, she could be found on Instagram @jessiabot2000
For more on artist Idan Knafo, he could be found on Instagram @artofidan