There’s a bit of chatter about this year’s Harvey Awards out there, including this from PvP’s Scott Kurtz (No permalinks so you’ll have to scroll down to the 9/10 entry):
Marc Nathan, The family of Harvey Kurtzman, the staff of the Baltimore Comicon, Steve, Brad, John, and countless others who aren’t famous comic book creators all worked their asses off to make the Harvey’s a big deal this year. I mean, they busted their humps making it a really special event.
The ballroom in the Marriot was beautiful. The cocktail hour ahead of the show was enjoyable. There was a three course meal served to us….a really classy event. All of the Baltimore and Harvey Awards staff got dressed up. It was very nicely done.
Out of all the people who won awards Saturday night, only 2 were in attendance to accept them and one of those was the master of ceremonies. So he kind of had to be there, I guess.
Nobody else bothered to show up to accept their award. Presenter after presenter handed Harvey Awards to either a collegue, business associate or sometimes even a staffer of the Baltimore Comicon. By the 10th award, it was a running gag. Nobody who won actually showed up to get their award. At one point, Howard Chaykin accepted for someone by sarcastically quipping “I’m sure he’s thrilled.”
After the show I found out that DC had a dinner for all of their staff and freelancers in attendance at the exact same time the awards were going on. DC Scheduled a dinner opposite the Harvey’s. And they had books nominated.
Vertical’s Anne Ishii, who was on hand to accept Vertical’s award for BUDDHA had her own cheeky report:
Sweeeet. The awards were something else in and of. Baltimoreâs only source of pride was John Waters and a handful of nubile Orioles three years ago, until Saturday past. I think Kyle Baker should be designated permanent MC for all comics awards.
He waltzed on stage wearing a V for Vendetta mask and kicked off the awards ceremony with two immediate jokes planted at DC and Marvel. It was good times. Efficient and fun.
[snip]Also, The Perry Bible Fellowhips dudes were at my table. At first looking like a wholesome gay couple from Portland ME, I found out they were there for something with the word âbibleâ? in it and suddenly got scared, but fear not. They were super cool. The bible was just a way of saying you know, like âThe Draconomiconâ? is the bible of virgin nerds.
Scott’s point is well taken, but it’s worth pointing out that DC had very few nominations, and their only actual nominee at the show — colorist Patricia Mulvihill — was at the banquet. It wasn’t as if they stole away all the nominees to go out for Chinese food. DC was also the platinum sponsor of the event and sent all their marketing people, so it isn’t as if they weren’t represented.
The general consensus from those who did attend was that this was a pretty good event, as comics awards banquets go, especially considering it was put on by first timers. The food was above average — crab cakes! — and the facility was nice. The awards themselves moved along briskly, and Kyle Baker was an engaging MC — he makes pretty much anything funny.
In particular the crowd as not stingy with standing ovations for Jerry Robinson, John Romita and George Perez, and that was nice. We got to hang out at a table with nominees Mulvihill, Chris Pitzer and Todd Klein, as well as Paul Pope, Comics News Insider co-host Jimmyand Beat pal Henrik from Denmark — all time spent with the great Todd Klein is time well spent.
Still, more participation by nominees and companies would be nice — and yes, it is not cheap to throw a banquet, and yes nominees should not have to buy their own tickets. With an ironic number of mainstream books and creators nominated, both DC and Marvel bought tables. (We don’t have the list of sponsors handy, or we would name more of them, but they included Diamond, and Dynamic Forces as well as a few retailers.)
More than one person noted the fact that the Baltimore Comic-Con is about the size of the San Diego Con 20 or 25 years ago, and the Harvey Awards banquet felt a lot like the old Inkpot Awards banquet, at which publishers of the day bought tables, and fans could buy tickets for the astronomical sum of $10.
We usually err on the side of optimism where awards thingies are concerned, but certainly there were some problems with the Harveys’ move to Baltimore this year. The nominations showed serious signs of ballot stuffing, to name the most obvious. Despite minor logistical problems, the awards and banquet itself went well. More participation would definitely have seemed appropriate, but the Baltimore organizers are still overcoming some of the bad feelings from the Harvey’s brief stay in New York.
The question is really whether it is in the best interests of publishers and other comics companies — who by all accounts are doing well financially right now — to support feelgood back-patting events like the Eisners and Harveys. Given the number who tout “Eisner-Award Winning!” on their PR, there would seem to be a cost-to-benefit ratio at play here.
Of course, we’re always in favor of back-patting events because it means we get to DRESS UP!