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Last week’s announcement of the Harvey Awards nominees was, as usual, accompanied by controversy. This time it wasn’t the domination of Valiant (20 nominations) and Boom/Archaia, but rather just why certain books and people were even eligible.

For starters there was the “Most Promising New Talent” category which included the following:

Steve Bryant, ATHENA VOLTAIRE COMPENDIUM, Dark Horse Comics
Daniel Warren Johnson, GHOST FLEET, Dark Horse Comics
Chad Lambert, “KILL ME” FROM DARK HORSE PRESENTS, Dark Horse Comics
Babs Tarr, BATGIRL, DC Comics
Jen Van Meter, THE DEATH-DEFYING DOCTOR MIRAGE, Valiant Entertainment

Considering that Jen Van Meter was nominated for an Eisner in 2002, and Steve Bryant launched Athena Voltaire in 2002 this is…an extrenely liberal definition of “newcomer”….to put it mildly. You can be promising at any age but after 13 years you’re not a newcomer. (And Van Meter’s fine work such as Hopeless Savages in the past shows she’s well established at this point.)

More controversy cam in the form of the Athena Voltaire Compendium being nominated in the Best Graphic Album Original category.

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM ORIGINAL
ATHENA VOLTAIRE COMPENDIUM, Dark Horse Comics
JIM HENSON’S THE MUSICAL MONSTERS OF TURKEY HOLLOW, Archaia/BOOM! Studios
SECONDS, Ballantine Books
THE WRENCHIES, First Second Books
THIS ONE SUMMER, First Second Books

Although here you could argue it was original to print so….

Bryant responded on Twitter,m explaining that much of the compendium was new material:

Finally, (or at least finally for what I have notes for) Chip Zdarsky took exception to being the only nominee for SEX CRIMINALS in the “Special Award For Humor In Comics”

James Asmus, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
James Asmus & Fred Van Lente, THE DELINQUENTS, Valiant Entertainment
Ryan Browne, GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS, Image Comics
Fred Van Lente, ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG, Valiant Entertainment
Chip Zdarsky, SEX CRIMINALS, Image Comics

Also, there were more funny comics than Valiant last year but their get out the vote campaign was undeniably effective.
Zdarsky issued a statement in support of his collaborator, Matt Fraction,—who is a very funny fellow in his own right—and said if chosen he would not serve:

Comics, for the most part, is a team effort. Pencillers, inkers, writers, letterers, Jordie; all of these roles are integral to the creation of a comic book and, time after time, positions like writers are routinely ignored in reviews, news and awards. Is it the fact that they’re invisible to the process? That when you’re reading a comic you’re noticing the beautiful drawings, the vibrant colours, the well-placed and designed lettering? Possibly. But it doesn’t mean writers aren’t integral to the process, or aren’t human beings who need to be noticed a lot.

With that being said (or, more accurately, WRITTEN), I simply cannot accept this HARVEY AWARDS nomination as it stands. I urge the awards committee to change the ballot to say “Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraption, SEX CRIMINALS, Image Comics.” If it does not get changed to exactly that wording, I will ask them to remove my name from the ballot completely, allowing the awards to replace my position with another middle-aged white man.

Harvey Award administrator Paul McSpadden released a statement that seemed to address the eligibility problems:

The Harvey Awards would like to address questions posed by the comics press and other concerned parties since the release of The Harvey Awards Final Ballot.

The Harvey Awards were formed over 28 years ago with the intent to enable the creative community to honor their peers. The Harvey Awards administrators, as well as fans, retailers, and convention professionals, have no vote. That is the guiding principle of the nomination ballot, and we work very hard to maintain that vision.

As with all Harvey Award categories, “Most Promising New Talent” and the “Special Award for Humor” are selected through the voting of the comics professional creative community exclusively. Beyond a publishing date in 2014, we provide no eligibility guidelines for works in these categories and, as such, we continue to rely on the judgment of our voters, and not impose arbitrary limits.

Our vetting process also leaves us confident that all nominations in the Best Original Graphic Album category are indeed eligible, containing enough new and revised material to meet the category definition.

The Harvey Awards committee is open to suggestions from the professional community and we welcome the input. As we do every year, we will review the Harveys voting process and identify areas where improvement can be made.

Which seems like
a) like a total “huh? I was in the other room having some pie” response and
b) poor Paul McSpadden
…but mostly a.

The Eisner Awards have a review process; if a chosen nominee does not meet their criteria is is removed from the ballot. And adjustments have definitely been made in past years. I realize that McSpadden is probably just tired of all the kvetching at this point, and threw up his hands and went back to his pie, but if you’re going to have awards, you need to have guidelines. The Newcomer nominees should all have been vetted BEFORE the announcement went out, and if there were only three people in the category, well then, that’s better than having “rookies” who have been getting Eisner nominations over two decades. Sadly, the Harvey’s have become a joke in many ways, but at least let it be a surreptitious titter and not a public guffaw.

I don’t know if any changes to the ballot have been made other than Zdarsky’s withdrawal. However I’ll throw this out there again:

If 19 comics professionals want to create an annual “Harvey’s voting tong” to pick a more selective list, well….Facebook Groups, people.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Just a side note to the Beat, I know that there has been some changes made recently to the website. Well, the RSS feed has died for those small few people who still read from an RSS feed. :-)

  2. Actually, I haven’t changed anything! Unfortunately either foul play or a database corruption is leading to some problems.

    IF anyone sees a particularly wacky front page make a screen shot and send it to me please!

  3. …and even the Eisners (sibling to the Harvey Awards) are a bit mysterious, as the rules are not published.

    Are the rules to the Harvey Awards available online?

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