Robot 6

Congratulations, followed swiftly by criticisms [Updated]

Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rule #3

Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rule #3

Within moments of the announcement this morning of the nominees for the 2009 Harvey Awards, Twitter was abuzz with congratulatory notes. Minutes after that, the criticisms began.

“Have 15 friends? You, too, can get a Harvey Award nomination,” wrote frequently outspoken cartoonist Evan Dorkin. “This year’s list is worse than ever, makes the Eisners look like the Nobels. … I mean, nothing personal to the nominees that don’t suck or didn’t get in their [sic] by ballot stuffing. But, come on — three Zuda comics noms? …  Okay, let’s rephrase: Nothing against anyone. But imo the Harvey Awards are so obviously broken it’s not funny.”

Dorkin wasn’t alone in his questions and complaints. (Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks summed up this morning’s Twitter traffic as “Equal number of tweets offering congrats to Harvey noms & discussion about the ballot stuffing.”)

Some of the questions center on the five nods for John Gallagher’s Buzzboy, whose presence in 2008 was a story in a Free Comic Book Day all-ages anthology and an issue of Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rules! sold at conventions and select stores.

“I am positive that many across the internet will offer up a collective ‘What Th–?’ about us getting the recognition we are getting,” Gallagher writes on his website, “and I join them in that — but i really do appreciate those that may have thrown their support our way.”

Commenting at Comics Worth Reading, Gallagher adds: “I didn’t complain about NOT being nominated in the past, so I certainly won’t complain about being nominated now, I’m honored. But, personally, I think me being nominated for best writer against someone as fantastic as Grant Morrison is pretty silly, but I am proud that some of my fellow Sky-Dog creators and friends are nominated in their categories.”

But the questions don’t end with Buzzboy. For instance, Dorkin wonders how reprints or archival editions, such as Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner and Al Jaffee’s Tall Tales, can be eligible in multiple categories. (Baker and Nat Turner received four nominations, Jaffee and Tall Tales three.)

Charges of ballot-stuffing also are bouncing around Twitter, with commenters pointing to instances of unlikely and multiple nominations.

“… I voted for NASCAR HEROES #5 thirty two times!” jokes Atomic Robo artist Scott Wegener. NASCAR Heroes #5 was nominated for Best Single Issue or Story, alongside such titles as Acme Novelty Library #19, Love and Rockets Vol. 3 #1 and Y: The Last Man #60.

(Update: A commenter at The Beat notes that NASCAR Heroes was produced by Gallagher’s Sky-Dog Comics for NASCAR and Starbridge Media Group. It appears that Gallagher wrote and edited at least some issues of the series.)

“Does anyone honestly think that ballot box stuffing automatically makes a subpar book look good?” writes manga blogger Deb Aoki. “Ballot box stuffing accomplishes 2 counter-productive things: 1) it makes the awards look cheap & 2) it makes you look desperate.”

I have an email out to Harvey Awards organizers. I’ll update when I receive a response.

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Comments

12 Comments

God, better hope it is ballot stuffing. Because of this is an accurate list of what the professional comics community thinks of itself, a whole lot of talented people should bail out for careers in a field where they could at least count on peer recognition, since it isn’t like gigantic paychecks are in the offing.

Elitist pseudo-intellectual comic book snobs —- NASCAR Heroes #5 was an amazing issue!!!

Just kidding about NASCAR Heroes #5 being an amazing issue — the fact is I don’t know because I didn’t read it.

But I really doubt that Dorkin to Hicks to Wegener to Aoki can honestly say they actually read the issue either, but instead made a “look before you leap” assumption based upon the title. I’ll gladly take back and eat my words if I’m wrong about this. Their comments sound conceited and cliquish and elitist.

I think the integrity of the Harvey Awards [including NASCAR Heroes #5] should be given the benefit of the doubt for now.

And for the record, I like and enjoy Buzzboy and Zuda comics more than a lot of “indie” titles that I’ve read and which have been nominated for Eisner and Harvey awards.

(I posted this on the Beat, but hell, it applies enough that I’m reposting the comment here but with some additions.)

Doesn’t this happen every year? No, seriously, every time the Harvey Award nominations are announced, there’s a lot of head-scratching and, “What the…?” comments. The only difference is which group of cartoonists all sat down and filled out ballots; in past years there were ballots dominated by the Disney Ducks, the Mad Magazine guys, and (most infamously) CrossGen. Sometimes it’s an individual creator; I remember one a few years ago who mysteriously ended up on the Best Writer category with a book that no one went on record as ever having seen or read.

By having a completely open ballot for anyone and everyone to submit, it’s going to happen every year. It’s a lot of work to think back through the last year’s worth of comics (and I say this as someone who was a former Eisner Judge and is the current Ignatz Award chair), and when it’s a complete blank slate waiting to be filled in, it’s daunting. The end result is a remarkably low number of people who are filling out ballots, and then even less in the way of overlap from one person’s ballot to the next save for the most obvious (All-Star Superman).

Years ago I remember when Kim Thompson would put together — with help — a list of all the indy publications of the year on TCJ’s message board, to at least serve as a form of guidance. That’s a LOT of work, though. Maybe if there was some sort of central database so that interested creators and/or publishers could submit it?

Personally, I’m just sad that a dozen or so creators didn’t all decide to submit the “haunted vagina” issue of Tarot. Because really, a dozen creators is probably all it would take to put it onto the ballot. Less than a dozen, most likely. It’s really not that hard.

It’s not ballot-stuffing if no one else bothers to vote. I bet you couldn’t find 100 creators who filled out a full Harvey ballot. Certainly not ones where it’s for items other than themselves. So long as the Harvey Awards continue to generate a final ballot like this, it’s going to happen over and over again.

Is there any award system–comics, movies, books, world peace, anything–where there aren’t complaints of ballot stuffing, nepotism, etc as soon as the nominees are announced?

Are there any other comics awards that are recognized as being better/more prestigious/more objective than the Harveys?

As long as there have been awards, and as long as there will be awards, there will be arguments about how those awards are chosen.

I’m interested in hearing what people think doesn’t belong. Nascar Heroes? Buzzboy?

I do wonder, though, how John Gallagher would have that much popularity or clout to have people stuff the ballot for him.

NASCAR Heroes might have gotten the ‘sarcastic’ vote. As in, “We’ll show them what we think of awards programs.” Or maybe a bunch of NASCAR fans were just overjoyed to have a comic about ‘them’. Whatever. NASCAR Heroes can’t be as bad as NFL Pro, can it?

Well, I mean, what if it’s actually good?

That’s NFL *Super*pro, to you, pal!

Chris whoever-you-are –

Here’s another elitist comment for you to chew on — I emceed the Harveys for 4 yrs and was associated with the awards program for 5. I also worked with them on material and ideas for the various events I was part of. I have had some experience with the Harveys and some insight about how it works. or doesn’t, more’s the point. I’ve also won 4 Harveys, and I to this day don’t feel I necessarily deserved either of them.The program has been troubled for quite some time, in that relatively few people vote. This means concentrated or groundswell movements can skew the results. This is nothing new, and nothing wrong, really. Crossgen infamously pushed hard several yrs ago and garnered an outsized number of noms in relation to their following and general regard, Disney/Gemstone had a banner yr, Mad had a slew of noms one year out of the blue, this happens with several lesser known titles every year. This year it is rife with this sort of thing. No, I haven’t read Nascar Whatever #5. That’s one example, and really, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s week-old dogshit compared to, say, last yrs output by Los Bros, Ware, Grant Morrison, my dead grandmother, a seapod. I’m joking, of course. About the last two. And I don’t even like Morrison’s work much. But give me a fucking break, as the kids say. The noms are a mess, the problem with the award system has been long apparent, and while I haven’t read Nascar #5, you apparently haven’t read this Robot 6 article thoroughly, or gone and looked at the other comments floating around, or you just wanted to take a shot at “elitist” indie comics snobs or whatever.

For the record, I am kind of elitist, even though I like pro wrestling and Godzilla movies. I just don’t think they deserve awards. I’m not cliquish (wtf?) or conceited (WTFWTF?). Do you think that group of people got together and made a united stand agaisnt the Harveys? Grow up.

Please excuse all the typos above, I’m typing this sunburned and exhausted on a laptop I’m rotten at typing fast on. I have little time in my elitist life to contribute comments to mere comic book sites such as this, not when my clique is gathering to have a conceit party against whatever the hell we think is beneath us. God, it’s great always being right about everything. .

Hey Evan Dorkin,

I’m Peter Timony, one of the creators of NIGHT OWLS, one of the Zuda strips nominated. I’m big fan of you and Milk and Cheese in particular. I read it in college, and to this day, “Booze up and Riot!” has been my war cry. I read it in your comic.

Anyway, my twin brother and I work hard on our comic, and we think it shows. I invite you to give it a look and then tell me if you think we deserved a nomination. As a person whose work I respect and admire, I really value your opinion, and would hate to be written off as a “ballot-stuffer” so quickly. Here’s the link, free to read: http://zudacomics.com/the_night_owls

You can reach both of us at twincomics@gmail.com

Peter

Peter –

hey, sorry I didn’t reply earlier — back from a short vacation.

Could you drop me an e-mail with all the info so we could t”talk” privately? I’d rather take it off a message board, esp. since I’m behind on work and a forgetful sob. E-mail me at evandorkin at gmail dot com.

And for the record, I’m not “mad” at the nominees or personally upset with them as a fan or creator (if that matters to anyone, I’ve been getting some flack, so, I want to put that out there) I’m depressed by the Harveys and how they’ve deteriorated, not worked to garner participation and support, and have become a mess. I used to emcee the awards for several yrs, I’ve dealt with the program and have a bit of an understanding about the problems they’ve faced, and faced poorly, imo.

Anyway, I’d be happy to discuss your work, drop me a line and we’ll talk.

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