A Detailed Harvey Awards Ceremony Writeup

(A bit late, yes, but I haven’t seen some of these stories shared, and there was some time involved in my original outlet for this piece turning it down.)

At this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con I had the honor of serving, for the second time, as Harvey Awards assistant. My tasks were to confirm all the presenters before the show, answer any of their questions, and bring them up to the stage area just before they were due to go on. That pre-staging may be part of the reason the Harvey ceremony takes less than two hours, an enjoyable timespan often remarked upon.

This year also saw the debut of attendee giftbags, heavy red plastic totes that contained

  • the first volume of the EC Archives: Two-Fisted Tales, which reprints classic war stories by Harvey Kurtzman, provided by Gemstone Publishing
  • the attendee’s choice of Harvey character toon tumblers: Wendy the Good Little Witch, Little Dot, Richie Rich, or Hot Stuff (clearly the favorite)
  • a foil cover edition of 30 Days of Night: Red Snow from IDW Publishing
  • a Jericho trading card set from Inkworks
  • an exclusive AdHouse logo pin on a Hey Look! card
  • and the 2007 Harvey Awards etched keychain from LaserMach.

That was all in addition to a delicious dinner of filet mignon and baby crabcake. Each table also received a dessert platter of miniature eclairs, cream puffs, tiny cake pieces, and other bite-sized treats. It’s a great way to prepare to recognize the best achievements in comics and sequential art, as chosen by fellow professionals.

After opening remarks by cherubic organizer Paul McSpadden and Master of Ceremonies Kyle Baker (who was particularly tickled by the gifts, since he mentioned that he’d just bought the second EC Archives volume as research for his upcoming war comic), Sergio Aragones had the crowd laughing with his keynote address. He began by reading the program notes to us, as a pretend summary of his preparatory research, before sharing stories about the times he’d been up for awards in the past and how every one is meaningful. He noted that winning one inspires better work as the recipient seeks to live up to the recognition, so where he would “draw 10 soldiers before, now he would draw 20.”

Next, artist Timothy Truman presented Best Letterer, won by Stan Sakai for Usagi Yojimbo, and Best Colorist, Lark Pien for American Born Chinese. Jose Villarrubia presented Best Syndicated Strip or Panel, awarded to Keith Knight’s K Chronicles, and Best Online Comics Work. Dustin Harbin accepted that award on behalf of Nicholas Gurewich for Perry Bible Fellowship. Gurewich had dictated the following haiku to be read, beautifully performed with pauses by Harbin:

Trees reach … for the sun.
Little do they know … the sun.
Who needs an Eisner?

Chris Pitzer, publisher of AdHouse Books, presented Best Inker, won by Danny Miki for Eternals, and Best American Edition of Foreign Material, a tie award to two Drawn & Quarterly publications: Tove Jansson’s Moomin and Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Next, Kyle Baker introduced presenter Dean Haspiel as best known for his “topless MySpace photos”, leading to Haspiel walking on stage while unbuttoning his shirt. Haspiel presented a double recognition of Darwyn Cooke, with The Spirit winning Best New Series and Absolute New Frontier winning Best Graphic Album — Previously Published.

Presenter Paul Pope accepted on behalf of Bryan Lee O’Malley when Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness won the Special Award for Humor in Comics. Pope then awarded Best New Talent to Brian Fies (Mom’s Cancer). Many of the presenters had minimal remarks of their own, preferring to leave the focus on the nominees. Rich Koslowski was a notable exception. Walking on stage to Everlast’s “White Boy Is Back”, he analyzed the lyrics to support his contention that Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation was all about “presenting facts with flair”. The winner was Abrams’ Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries. Koslowski also presented Best Anthology (awarded to Flight Volume 3) by checking prices for Action Comics #1, Marvel Comics #1, and Mad Magazine #1 (all anthologies) in the Overstreet Guide. The punchline was his own Geeksville anthology, valued as a back issue at cover price.

Michael Golden awarded Complete Peanuts as the Best Domestic Reprint Project and James Jean as Best Cover Artist (after stating that there should be “only one nominee, me”). Tom Brevoort gave the Special Award for Excellence in Presentation to Lost Girls, from Top Shelf, and the Best Graphic Album — Original to Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon.

After that, the Hero Initiative recognized Joe Kubert with their lifetime achievement award. Baker noted that for anyone drawing a war comic, as he was, the two artists to steal from were Harvey Kurtzman, the awards’ namesake, and Joe Kubert’s Sgt. Rock.

Chris Staros presented Best Continuing or Limited Series to Marvel Comics’ Daredevil before Jim Shooter awarded Ed Brubaker Best Writer for the same title. Shooter’s remarks mentioned how out of all the participants in a comic’s creation, only the writer faced the truly blank page. The next presenter, Mark Wheatley, talked about how the real storyteller in comics was the artist, the equivalent of a movie director. I wasn’t sure whether he was explaining the importance of the Best Artist award or responding to Shooter. Frank Quitely won for All-Star Superman, and Jaime Hernandez was recognized as Best Cartoonist for Love & Rockets by dual presenters Fletcher Chu-Fong and John Cunningham of DC Comics.

The last award of the night, Best Single Issue or Story, was presented by Erik Larsen. Kyle Baker had been introducing presenters with a running joke about allowing his daughter to braid his hair between awards. (Eventually, she got to the point where dinner napkins were featuring in her creations.) The bald Larsen got up and said we might not recognize him because last year he had long, flowing blond hair. He didn’t want to talk about it, paused, and then shook his fist and threatened Superboy in a reenactment of Lex Luthor’s Silver Age origin. In an unexpected result, the award went to Civil War #1 over Fun Home, Ganges #1, Mom’s Cancer, Pride of Baghdad, Schizo #4, and Solo #11 (featuring Sergio Aragones).

After the awards, attendees mingled in the lobby, where a loop of Baker’s animation was playing. A good time seemed to be had by all.


One Response to “A Detailed Harvey Awards Ceremony Writeup”

  1. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Oct. 9, 2007: Shuffering and Shmiling Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson offers her impressions of the recent Harvey Awards [...]

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