- Posted by Johanna on April 21, 2014 at 4:59 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
Steve Morris at Comics Vanguard has posted a call for the Eisners to change how they select and recognize letterers. He starts off by recognizing the dominance of the Best Lettering award by one very talented man:
Aside from Stan Sakai’s win in 1996, letterer Todd Klein won the award every single year between 1993 and 2008. Every single year! And then he won in 2010 as well. Out of the 21 years that the Eisners have recognised lettering, he’s won 16 of them.
He then goes on to talk about the winners who also wrote and drew their own work:
Because the thing is, full-time letterers like Joe Caramagna, Chris Eliopoulos or Richard Starkings (who has NEVER won, despite being perhaps THE most important name in comic lettering of the last several decades) are working on a different level to the level that [Chris] Ware has to. Ware is preparing a whole comic at once, so he can draw a panel with the dialogue required already in mind — allocating the words a space. If he can’t fit the words into this space, he can always rewrite the dialogue to fit. He has complete creative control.
Letterers don’t have that luxury. They’re given a script they had no hand in, and art they can’t dictate, and told to put the two together in a way which tells the story. It’s an incredibly difficult, technical task to pull off, especially with the level of style that someone like Annie Parkhouse or Dustin Harbin can achieve.
He has a suggestion:
What I’m saying is absolutely that the Eisners should stipulate a clause into the nomination process for letterers which blocks writers and artists from being eligible. The phrase “best lettering over someone else’s work” would be appropriate, in this respect. [...] Because apparently it seems, letterers will be ignored otherwise.
But that proposed clause wouldn’t fix the real problem, that there’s one best-known guy in the field whom people kept voting for, whether because he does excellent work or his name is the most recognizable or some other reason.
If you do agree with Steve that including artists as letterers is a problem, should the category be restricted in this way? Should others? I can imagine the outcry if someone suggested that the only people eligible for Best Artist are those who did nothing else but draw the book. Would that mean that someone who colored their own work wouldn’t be eligible for either Best Artist or Best Coloring? Would we need a combined category to recognize them, the same way we have Best Writer/Artist?
It’s an interesting discussion, but to me, it feels like a way to make the category less competitive. What do you think?