Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

April 9, 2012

Evan Dorkin Notes Shared Harvey Awards Rule

The cartoonist Evan Dorkin picks up on something that he as a past host and recent winner at the Harvey Awards didn't know about: the physical Harvey Award given out by that program must be shared. That is, when Dorkin and Jill Thompson won one recently for their Beasts Of Burden work, they had to designate who would get the physical award that was made (Dorkin says it's going to Thompson), and then had to decide whether to pay for a second trophy so that Dorkin could have one, too.

This is a deeply uncool thing to be discussing, so I appreciate Dorkin putting it out there. We're all adults. We know that no one should really care all that deeply about awards, and that goes double for the actual physical representation of the award. Moreover, the Harveys are one of those organizations that represent at least as part if their mission something everyone in comics can get behind: the promotion of the legacy of the great Harvey Kurtzman. Certainly Dorkin appreciates that legacy as a cartoonist who's worked in humor for the vast majority of his career. Further, to make any complaint at all raises hackles from people who think that mission is being disrespected or, more generally, that they're being put on the defensive. (I get these letters a lot, and might get one here, I don't know.) As Dorkin himself acknowledges, it is highly unlikely to the point of absurdity to suggest that anyone is making money off of the Harvey Awards or any sub-rule that group might have. It's also true that there's a paid component with a lot of awards in a lot of fields.

So why bring it up at all? Because I also appreciate this post from Dorkin. It is very comics. I think comics in all facets offers up a potent combination of really low thresholds for participation (this very homemade site's recent inclusion in another major comics awards program is proof of that), an inordinate weight placed on the rewards of self-agency through comics at the expense of many other benefits, and a history of self-deprecation that hints at issues of major, subculture-wide, self-loathing. We need to have discussion on things like what an awards program should offer, what a publisher should provide the publication process or even whether or not a site where the host just gives up on original content on a weekend (like I did yesterday) is of a professional standard that deserves approbation. To not have these discussions is to accept that comics deserves what it's told it deserves, and while some of the people that do that telling are good people with lofty goals in mind, others aren't.
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

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