I have enjoyed hours of heartache and quiet laughs with a classic comic strip like Peanuts, until it became a safe American institution with cutesy humor.
I strongly approve that it made the cover of TIME in April, 1965 for its freshness and spawned a series of cartoon tributes, games, theater and TV productions. (The mass merchandising can’t be helped, I guess.)
What shocked me was that in 2016, not just one tribute but three went to Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M Schulz. Don’t get me wrong. I won’t grudge it the award for Excellence in Presentation, or the Best Anthology, or the Best Single Issue or Story – in a vacuum.
But this is the age of pushing boundaries in comics. What about all the new and rising talent, expert experimentation and great storytelling that is happening in anthologies like Islandpublished by Image Comics or the gripping new single issue of the year The Sheriff of Babylon? Many deserving works weren’t even nominated, and Valiant Comics filled up nominations without winning anything at all.
I especially find the category Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work to be a redundant award that doesn’t really make sense. I propose that it should be removed from the award ceremony altogether, and make way for more sensible categories.
The Redundant Category
Let’s take a look at the nominations that were included on the 2016 Harvey Awards, under the Best Previously Published Graphic Album. Not one, but five out of the six nominations were from Valiant Entertainment.
- Bloodshot Reborn Vol. 1: Colorado TP, Valiant Entertainment
- Ivar, Timewalker Col. 1: Making History TP, Valiant Entertainment
- Divinity Deluxe Edition, HC, Valiant Entertainment
- The Valiant Deluxe Edition HC, Valiant Entertainment
- Ninjak Vol. 1: Weaponeer TP, Valiant Entertainment
- The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, Iron Circus Comics
When I say that the category should be removed from the awards ceremony, it is not my peeve against the block voting that got Valiant such skewed numbers in the ballot. I enjoy the books that Valiant brings out. They are a much smaller publisher than DC and Marvel, and they seem to be a great publisher to work for.
It may also be that Valiant beat out Marvel and DC (who put out far more titles) in the quality versus quantity battle. Or the ballot may have been rigged. I don’t know. The point I’m making is, my reservations against this category is not in any way tied with a dislike of Valiant.
Nor do I think TJ and Amal don’t make for exciting reading. I was moved with the trilogy’s heart and humor.
Instead, my reservations have to do with what I believe is (or should be) the purpose of these awards: to find new talent, and reward great works, after comparing them on an equal platform.
In the Harvey Awards, I think there are several things wrong with the structure. For one, the category of previously published graphic albums should be replaced with something like Best Short Story, Best Work Based on Reality, Best Adaptation From Another Medium or even Best Longform Web Comics versus Best Online Comic Strip.
Why I Think Splitting the Webcomics Category Is a Good Idea
The Eisner Awards also have just a single category for Webcomics. But then the Eisner Awards have awards for a lot more categories than the Harvey Awards.
The Harvey Awards, on the other hand, doesn’t bother about grouping its nominees on the basis of genre, format or length. Take a look at the Best Online Comics Work category:
- Battlepug, Mike Norton
- Albert the Alien, Trevor Mueller and Gabriel Bautista
- Zombie Boy, Mark Stokes
- Oh Joy, Sex Toy, Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
- Bloom County 2015, Berkeley Breathed
The nominations on this list are really not all comparable. Albert the Alien and Battlepug are both long webcomics while Zombie Boy and Bloom County are online comic strips. Oh Joy, Sex Toy doesn’t belong here either, it’s educational. Splitting the category will allow the jury to nominate many more deserving web comics in either category.
For example, Giant Daysby John Allison, Lissa Tremain and Max Sarin could have been included in the web comics section instead of being pitted against print comics like Saga.
The Harvey’s need a restructuring. Hopefully the organizers have realized this, and the awards will return with better sense.
What do you think?
There is a reason why the Juno Awards states that “Greatest Hits”packages are not eligible and previously published live albums are only eligible if more than 50% of the cuts are new. Because for every such nomination, a new release that deserves recognition loses out