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Home > Letters to CR

Dustin Harbin On My Response To His Piece On The Eisner Awards
posted April 16, 2012
 

First, regarding Jackie Estrada: you're right. Regardless of how offputting I personally found it that she publicly supported such a dumb post by Miller, that shouldn't have anything to do with my reasoning on whether or not she does a good job in administering the awards. It makes sense to me personally, in a universe where everything I think is correct and right and true, but of course others might suggest that there is more than one worldview out there. Although I do think that that kind of public position definitely reflects back on the award she on some level represents. The award is called "The Eisner", not "The Estrada," and I would think a person in that position would be careful about that sort of thing. Having said that, when I was working for HeroesCon I regularly would slip up and do or say any number of things that were embarrassing to the show in general or Shelton Drum in particular, even while I was squelching a million other insulting or controversial things I WANTED to say but restrained myself from saying. Just to give you an idea of the very shaky moral high ground I'm sitting on.

I'll go ahead and edit out that part about Jackie's comment on Frank Miller's post; now that you've pointed it out, it seems insanely noisy to me.

Second, on the idea of changing "some of the foundational aspects of the award": I think at this point that that's necessary, whether under Jackie's leadership or another's; whether it be suggestions like mine, or like yours from last year, which I liked a lot, or another set of changes. The Eisner becomes less relevant every year, even as it becomes more Byzantine and bloated and out-of-touch with itself and its own relative importance. I think it's very much on that same slide the Harveys went down the last five or so years, where things got weird enough that a lot of people just stopped thinking about them as something that actually matters to the community they purport to represent. For me the best case would be that some deep, aggressive changes were made and there was a new feeling of validity and importance behind the award. But failing that, that's why I did propose just starting up a whole new thing, an award that would start from zero and work to build that importance that I think is lacking in the current Eisner place on the landscape.

On voting: I really hate voting, but I think you're less of a giant snob than I am. I feel so cynical about open voting, it always turns artists into hucksters, which I think--even in a medium like ours build on that foundation originally, in terms of comics' cultural relevance--feels enormously depressing in our current medium, which is producing some of the best work of the last fifty years. In a landscape like that, someone like me, active online, unashamed to promote himself endlessly, could conceivably beat a Jaime Hernandez (longshot, I know, but still) in an online vote, though I'm barely qualified to carry his water. I know there's a more positive view; that by snobbing things up you remove an award from a different kind of cultural relevance. But the current voting model feels unfixable. Then again, I'm very much in the minority about that. Almost no one I talk to agrees with me about that idea--similar to curated shows, which people seem to think work great in practice, but when you suggest something like SPX have a curated component, even just half the seats being curated, tempers flare pretty quick. It's snobbery, definitely, and could easily go down a crummy road. But as a snob myself, I like the idea of an award being carefully chosen by a well-informed group of people who take that choosing very seriously, rather than just scanning a ballot looking for names I recognize or with whom I'm friendly online.