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April 18, 2013

So I Guess Some People Are Mad At Frank Santoro For The Bias Of Having A Strong Opinion About Things


I'm not sure I'm tracking this very well, but my understanding is that there have been some flashes of Internet-style complaining/argumentation that focuses on statements that 2013 Eisner Awards judge Frank Santoro made about the comics-makers that worked on the Before Watchmen books from DC Comics, and how the strength of his statements on that matter might have caused him to be biased while serving as a judge on that awards committee. I think it's a good line of questioning to pursue. Those statements were public, as is Santoro's role on this year's nominations committee. Why not look for potential bias in an institution like that one? You can read a summary of this flare-up at Rich Johnston's site, including a statement from the creator/educator.

I think Frank Santoro is exactly the kind of judge that comics awards should have. I don't consider the ability to make moral and ethical distinctions and their subsequent expression to be bad things. Those are good things. In fact, it's very comics that expressing an opinion like Santoro's and how that might keep people from a specific kind of praise they somehow deserve is considered a greater issue than the choices of the artists that led Santoro to express that opinion and the effect those choices may have on the lives, careers and artistic legacies of generations of professionals.

I guess this stuff could be an issue if Santoro put on display a show of grinding against these artists and their work in a way while performing his judging duties that casts doubt on his ability to do the job he accepted. The thing is, we have no evidence of this. We have testimony the other way. That's important: accusations aren't food trucks, you can't just park them nearby. When Santoro says that he pushed for Before Watchmen creators and and even work on that material because he took his job seriously, and points out that Before Watchmen creators received nominations for other works, that's all I need to hear. In fact, I didn't need to hear that. Santoro told me further via an e-mail exchange that these things never came up during the process of selecting this year's nominations. Why would they?

One of the interesting things about the development of the Internet as a tool to have conversations is that the possibility of something taking place is often seen as the same thing as something that actually takes place. It's mistaking the abstraction of an argument as a direct correlative event to something in the real world. If we can argue something is possible, that's all we need to do: a potential bias = a bias, a potential construction by which something might happen = it could have happened and might as well have. It's very multiverse friendly. We should probably stop.

I look forward to future years when people explore the potential biases of all Eisner judges and not just the ones that have flamboyant on-line personae or whose stances have a shaming element to them. In fact, it's usually the quiet ones. Undue influence can be positive or negative.

If you could give me five Frank Santoros on every judging panel from now on, I'd sacrifice ever being nominated again for how fun and interesting that would be. Good on us for having this conversation. Good on Frank for meeting the accusations head-on. Nothing to see here; let's move forward.
posted 12:20 am PST | Permalink

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