2012 Glyph Comic Awards Change; I Am No Longer a Judge

The Glyph Comic Awards and I have agreed to part ways this year. We had a difference of opinion on process, and it seemed best for them to proceed without me with no hard feelings on either side.

Glyph Comics Awards logo

The difference was based around what the judges should consider in building their lists of nominees. When I served as a judge previously, in 2007, we reviewed the submissions but could also list works that hadn’t been officially entered. That’s also how the Eisners work — it’s part of a judge’s responsibility to bring deserving work to the attention of the others, or even advocate for it — so that was the assumption I made, based on other comic awards and past history with this effort. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to check that assumption until the submission deadline had passed.

Other judges for the Glyphs, and the official Awards committee, decided to follow a model more like that of the Pulitzers, where only submissions could be considered. That’s a valid way to do things — except in this case, because of the timing, I had issues with how the results would play out.

Due to the switchover in organization this year, where a committee has taken over from founder Rich Watson, there have been a number of growing pains and learning curves. It’s a tough challenge, and I admire those working through the situation. However, I didn’t feel that the submission period had been sufficiently promoted — mainly because the only comic media coverage I saw about the Awards were mentions at the Beat and Robot 6 only a few days before the deadline. (And I’m the one that reached out to those sites, which may have been outside my role.) I’m not sure where else the process was communicated, although I think there was some activity on Facebook.

If I’d known that the rules had been changed from the previous way of operation, I would have reached out to those works I wanted to nominate and made sure they submitted. (An activity that some other judges would likely object to, preferring more “dispassionate” judges. Again, an example of where comics apparently operates differently from other industries.) As it was, I didn’t know that we were restricted in our choices until the day before deadline, when I asked about it to confirm the process. I should have checked earlier.

The result is that, for example, in at least one category, everyone who submitted will be a nominee (unless I’ve lost count or mailed submissions arrive later), because there simply weren’t more submissions than nomination slots. I suggested in such cases, where my selection for Best wasn’t listed, I could enter “no vote”, but the Awards committee didn’t like that idea. Which is, let me reiterate, their choice and I have no objections to that. We mutually decided it would be best for me not to continue participating in the Awards. From my perspective, instead of picking Best of the year, we were really selecting “Best That Sent Material In”, and that’s not the same thing.

I wish the Awards the best and I’m sure that this is just one step on the path for them to continue to grow and improve. There’s a larger debate here, too, about the distinction between rewarding a work for good intentions and valuing it for craft. I’ve struggled with this as a critic. I’ve received pleas for coverage in the past from creators who are trying hard and believe strongly in what they’re trying to do as an independent artist, but whose work just isn’t of professional quality. I support their goals, but I can’t overlook cliched writing or dodgy anatomy or jumbled storytelling. Perhaps that’s my failing, or just another indication of looking for different things. It’s certainly not something that can be settled easily or quickly.

5 Responses to “2012 Glyph Comic Awards Change; I Am No Longer a Judge”

  1. David Oakes Says:

    Isn’t bothering to critique something in the first place a point that it deserves mention? “I wish I could say it lived up to expectations” or “I look forward to what [the creators] can do with more experience” may seem backhanded. But they are better than not bringing up a work at all.

  2. Johanna Says:

    True. Making the cut to get talked about is a statement in a work’s favor.

  3. Ralf Haring Says:

    I’ve never understood awards that require the nominees to submit their own work. Recognizing excellence shouldn’t hinge on that. They shouldn’t be excluded or discouraged from submitting something they did that they thought was particularly good, but it shouldn’t be the exclusive criterion for consideration.

  4. Comics A.M. | Diamond returning to C2E2 for annual Retailer Summit | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment Says:

    […] Awards | Johanna Draper Carlson has resigned as a judge for the 2012 Glyph Comics Awards following a disagreement over which works are eligible for the annual honors. Carlson believed judges should be able to nominate comics (as is the case with the Eisners), but the organizers limited the pool to comics that were submitted to them, which resulted in a smaller group of nominees. [Comics Worth Reading] […]

  5. Brandon Montclare Says:

    I inquired about the Glyph Awards this year. Unfortunately I missed the deadline by one day, and was quickly told there were no exceptions. Fair enough; that’s what deadlines are for… but as Johanna mentions, there’s always a flurry of publicity right at the deadline. Info on the awards was forwarded to me by a friend who saw a last-minute notice. By the time I saw his email, however, it was 9am the next morning.

    I don’t know what would be the best solution, but it’s something awards organizers should consider.




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