Yes, it's that time of year when people say "it's that time of year." Convention season and awards season. The Eisner ballot is now available -- and I'm very happy PopGun, Vol. 3 was nominated. For volume 3, I wrote the short story "50 Miles to Marfa" and worked with one of my favorite artists: Daniel Warner. "50 Miles to Marfa" wasn't nominated for best short story. Oh well. It's a strong story, but certainly that's a tough category. Of course, I did write in "50 Miles to Marfa" on my own ballot. That's just pride. Which leads me to the Harvey Awards.
Every year when we say "it's that time of year," comic book pundits, commentators, journalists, and bloggers kibitz about the problems inherent in the open nomination process. I'm not too concerned about it. The Harvey Award needs a system that's different from the more popular Eisners as a way to distinguish it as an award. It does lead to Alan Moore getting nominated... a lot, and a few zealous up-and-comers with friends. The Harvey Awards become a little mainstream top-heavy, and they do straddle the extremes with a few smaller names sneaking in. We miss a diversity of strong indie titles, which the Eisners and the Ignatz (that other award) are happy to snatch up. The system is the system. To quantify artistic merit through this process is subjective, political, and almost impossible.
If I were to establish a system for acknowledging excellence in the comics industry, I'd set up an annual juried-selection of titles with one grand prize, only for graphic novels/trade paperbacks. No "best writer." No "best artist." No "best cartoonist" or "best letterer from a foreign country, not Japanese." Each work would be judged as a complete work, a criterion collection for graphic novels. My friend P.J. Kryfko had a similar concept, and I probably stole the idea from him one evening when we were drinking at Amsterdam Bar. Bottom line: the award needs prestige. It needs to mean something.
Awards can be useful in validating our art to a larger market. It's important to acknowledge quality, to celebrate the life work of artists. Personally, I like the Eisners and the Harveys. Any critiques I have are minimal.
Here's my list of Harvey nominations. I apologize in advance if I forgot your comic book. It wasn't malicious. These are the ones that came to mind on March 29th when I filled it out and submitted it. My list is rather sparse and lopsided, but I figure others will mention the ones I neglected. And if I made any glaring omissions, well, that's what the comments section is for.
BEST WRITER 1. Jamie Rich - You Have Killed Me 2. Neil Kleid - The Big Kahn
BEST ARTIST 1. Joelle Jones - You Have Killed Me
BEST CARTOONIST 1. Darwyn Cook - Parker: The Hunter
BEST COLORIST 1. Justin Stewart - Mixtape Volume 3
BEST COVER ARTIST 1. Kristian Donaldson - Dr. Horrible (one shot)
MOST PROMISING NEW TALENT 1. Joelle Jones - You Have Killed Me
BEST NEW SERIES 1. Comic Book Comics - Evil Twin Comics
BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES 1. Fear Agent - Dark Horse 2. Walking Dead - Image
BEST ANTHOLOGY 1. PopGun, Vol. 3 - Image Comics
BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM, ORIGINAL 1. Amulet, Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse - Scholastic Graphix 2. Stitches - W. W. Norton & Company 3. Asterios Polyp - Pantheon 4. You Have Killed Me - Oni Press
BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM, PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED 1. Alec: The Years Have Pants - Top Shelf Productions
BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT 1. Dread & Superficiality: Woody Allen as Comic Strip - Abrams ComicArts
BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL 1. GoGo Monster - Viz Signature 2. Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka - Viz Signature 3. Yotsuba&! - Yen Press
BEST ONLINE COMICS WORK 1. The Loneliest Astronauts - http://www.agreeablecomics.com/loneliestastronauts 2. Freak Angels - http://www.freakangels.com
SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS 1. Scott Kurtz - PvP
SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION 1. Asterios Polyp - Pantheon
BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC PUBLICATION FOR YOUNGER READERS 1. Amulet, Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse - Scholastic Graphix 2. The New Brighton Archeological Society - Image Comics