We’re here at the 2017 Ignatz awards and there is NO wifi or cel coverage downstairs, so we blogged but it wasn’t live. The nights big winner was Emil Ferris ‘s My Favorite Thing is Monsters to zero surprise, and Ben Passmore’s “Your Black Friend” won Outstanding Story to no one’s surprise. The evening’s speeches were a throwback to Team Comics, with many salutes to the community that SPX has created and fosters, but also many direct comments on racism and white supremacy and the fight for acceptance, here and elsewhere.

Warren Bernard kicked off the Festivities in his PJS:

SPX had 90 volunteers this year, a big boost this year as well as a lot of new people behind the scenes but it all seems to have gone smoothly. .

SPX does a great job of outreach to the National Book Festival and libraries in the region.  They’ve given more than 2000 volumes to libraries throughout Virginia and PA., every book is by an SPX cartoonist. And at the LoC the SPX Web Archive is now alive. It has archived such things as James Koschalka’s complete diary comics. They are going ahead and preserving websites at the Library of Congress so that 1000 years from now people will know what happened. He also saluted Barry. Mat hews who is retiring from Secretc Acres so this is his last SPX.

A tribute to the Late Ed Siemienkowicz noted that it’s is the family you choose and  saluted and providing a place for all of us t be our best selves and share with one another.

Ignatz admin Dan Stafford noted that “”When you coordinate the Ignatz awards you get 600 packages of comics!” The jury gets books in mid June and by mid August must have read all of them. “They must read 3-4 comics a day!” He read a message from ComiXology’s Chip Mosher- absent this year – but didn’t  do the drink ticket dance that Chip had done traditionally, which led to boos from the crowd.

It’s the 10th anniversary of ComiXology and the 5th anniversary of ComiXology sponsoring the Ignatz awards. Shannon Wheeeler will dole out the drink tickets.

“We had incredibly voter turnout,” for the Ignatxes, says Stafford.” 1200 ballots were cast, it’s almost as if something big happened lately that made people realize that voting is important. Also two winners were decided by one vote.”

Caitlin McGurk is the host for the evening in a smart green dress.

“When I was 19 years old Chester Brown called me from a pay phone in Canada,” but the story has a happier ending. than you’d expect, she says. She never expected to hear back after writing a letter but he called her,” only “I’m 19 on the phone with Chester BRown, a person I love and he’s actually wanted to talk to me.” That’s when I realized that the comics community is accessible and I could meet my heroes and if I played my cards right I could be involved somehow. ”

McGurk recalls self publishing her own zines and attending SPX 10 years ago. And thinking that she wanted to be involved and that “people are some of the best people anywhere.”

“Whether you are attending your first  SPX or  your 5th or your 10th you are a part of it now. It’s Olive Garden, if you are here you are family.”

Tonight is a BIG THROWBACK TO THE TEAM COMIX ETHOS that was partially created at SPX!

Finally McGurk suggests, “If you see someone you like don’t just follow them on Tumblr write them a letter! We don’t have to be strangers to each other. Also don’t be dicks to each other. Don’t be a dick on the Internet or in person.”

First up Simon Hansellman! “There is less fanfare than I had hoped for,” he says, as his entrance music was felled by the bad internet.  “I met my wife here three years ago, talking about community.” He reads the nominees for Outstanding Story.

And the winner is  Diana’s  Electric on Tongue by  Caroline Nowak. “I want to thank all the important people like everyone in this room to witness this because Holy Shit.” Nowak forgot to thank her husband last year when she won so makes up for it this year.

Mardou is up to present Outstanding Mini  Comic. “SPX was my first ever comics show in America.” Mardou notes that the show broke her a bit this year. But that ” Beginner mind is a state where all the doors are open.” And that reminded her of mini comics. “It’s a little doorway to someone’s soul.”

And the winner is Tender Hearts by Hazel Newlevant! “This festival means so much to me and this community means so much to me and I really appreciate people’s support of my work and if you read tender-hearted you know it’s 50% about an abusive relationship.  People have supported this  work and me personally. I don’t want to see a community where abusers are tolerated and their victims are made to feel unwelcome.” Big applause.

Tony Breed is up to present Outstanding Anthology. He recalls picking up the anthology Gay Comix in a bookstore as a  baby gay “And that book was so important to me,” he says. “THis book gave me multiple views from all these different people. Anthologies are important and your anthology may inspire people to make comics.”

And the winner is: Elements: Fire – An Anthology by Creators of COlor  edited by Taneka Stotts. She sent a message “Thanking you for recognizing the time talent and voices of creators of color and this will have to continue until the industry realize they are real. And we’ll continue to make kickass comics.”

For Outstanding Series JT Yost is up. HEs also honored to be in the room.

And the winner is Chester 5000 by Jess Fink! A mild upset! Fink is splendid in a lavender metallic polka dot ensemble. “This is amazing. I never thought I could win an award for my Victorian robot sex comic. SPX was the first publication that put out any of my work. This is coming full circle for me.” She recalls that her SVA teacher Tom Hart told her she drew great boobs something she remembered forever.

Outstanding Online Comic is presented by Hannah K. Lee.

The winner is The Meek by Der-Shing Helmer, another woman. All the winner thus far are female!
Tillie Walden appears to give out the Promising New Talent Award always  a closely watched kudo!

And the inner is Bianca Xunise for Say Her Name. Her friend Shannon Wright accepts. The speech is powerful. EDIT: Xunise posted her speech of FB so here’s an actual transcript:

First I want to apologize for not being able to be here to accept this award personally but I want to thank you all for choosing this story to be worthy of it. And thank you baby sis Shannon for helping to amplify my voice.

Most of you may already know this but everything that happened in this comic is in fact true. I would love to say that this was an isolated moment but unfortunately for many black people and POC this is our everyday. Just yesterday when I was bopping to New Order this woman tried to rip my hair out simply because she did not like it. And in that moment I felt small and afraid. I felt this power over me that I feel every time my oppressor tries to remind me that this world sees me less than human. And while I can still feel her hand on my head or I can still see the officers with their hands on their guns as they surrounded me, I do my best to rise above. It’s not an easy task. It’s sounds romantic and truthfully it’s unfair to constantly ask the oppressed to rise when it is our lives that are constantly being compromised. But we do it anyway, I do it everyday. I head to the wise words of Beyoncé and take these awful-terrible-no-good-moments and make lemonade. So thank y’all for enjoying the lemonade I made. Thank you for taking the time to uplift my voice. I started making comics because I wanted to hear a voice that sounded like my own. And hopefully today is just the beginning of hearing more black and brown voices in comics. We have so many stories to tell. And not just sad or scary ones but ones about love and ordinary stories about life. We have so much life to live if we are just allowed the freedom to live it.

Anyway, black lives matter, black girls are magical, and oh yes Keanu Reeves is still fine.”


The Award for Outstanding Comic is presented by Sam Bosma., a past Ignatz winner himself.

And to no one’s surprise the winner is “Your Black Friend” by Ben Passmore. “I forgot to vote because I was at the juggalo parade,” he jokes. He gives a long powerful speech that I don’t want to mess up, recognizing George HErriman and Alton Sterling, two men of color from New Orleans. Sterling was killed  by the police.” I realize the existence of me and my friend and people who looked like me was invisible to people.,” says Passmore of making the comic. “Maybe the knowledge of itself would help sponsor ethical acts. It’s crazy. The conversation often felt too nuanced esp. For a cartoonist with an art solo degree to weigh in on. And at the Juggalo March I was thinking a lot of things. We’re at a time where right acts seem clear, the issues are not complicated and in the face of intricate and tough problems we feel inertia. So my hip hope is that given this obvious white supremacist scene that we are in, that everyone grab a brick. In conclusion, Fuck the police, free all prisoners and fuck Donald TRump.”

Grand Master Gilbert Hernandez is up to present Outstanding Graphic Novel.

And the winner is My Favorite Thing Is Monsters “Damn you for making an old lady cry,” said winner Emil Ferris. “I really appreciated this. I didn’t know I could have a tribe. You folks have more than been my tribe. You’ve  shown me tremendous acceptance and when I see the talent I”m breathless with the honor to be besides these people. I wish I had been so smart at 23. …If there someone who is not 23 don’t give up your dream there are late bloomers. NOt all people who figured out all who the hell you are 23. The energy of reading the book and the imagination you gave it a creates around it and makes it larger.”

Outstanding Artist is presented by three-time Ignatz Winner is Jillian Tamaki. and the winner again is Emil Ferris.

SUmmer Pierre  is up to present the final award, Outstanding anthology. “Some of the most brilliant daring deep work is done in story collections,” says Pierre.

And the final winner is Johnny Wander: Our Cats are more Famous Than Us by Yuka Ota and Ananth Hirsh. They salute George Rohac for helping them. Ananth Singh says the first SPX in old Bethesda his parents dropped him off and he went to meet Jeff smith, who  took his time and gave his attention but “I realized there were not a lot of people who looked like me. But he made me feel like I belonged in comics years later we started collaborating and now this award feels very very full circle.”

Ota adds, “when we were starting out not a lot of people who looked like us, and which made this comic about us and our daily lives it means a lot to us to be seen so thank you so much.” all women and people of color and strong statements about the world we’re in were made. But the comrade ride of comics makes it feel possible that there may be solutions. I hope so. And now…to the fountain!


  1. Huh. Just a couple of weeks ago, in the run-up to Dragon*Con, I was leafing through an old SPX anthology (2003), and noticed it had a work by a young “Jessica Fink” in it (it also had something by a young Karl Kerschl as well). So I guess THAT must have been the first published work to which she was referring in her acceptance speech. Cool!

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