MoCCA Announces Juried Award of Excellence

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You’re just not a comic show these days without an associated awards program. The Society of Illustrators, the group behind the MoCCA Arts Festival, has announced an Awards of Excellence program to recognize “the most outstanding work on view at the festival”, debuting at this year’s show.

The way it works is, jury members walk the show on the afternoon of Saturday, April 6, picking contenders for the award based on “quality of artwork”. (So if you’re a great writer but an ok draftsperson… ?) They then convene and select six Awards of Excellence to be named that evening.

Who are the jury members? Quite the illustrious group: Karen Berger, Gary Groth, Nora Krug, David Mazzucchelli, and Paul Pope. Winners will have their work exhibited at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art at the Society of Illustrators from May 21 to July 6, 2013. Any item chosen by a jury member will be acquired by Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library for a newly-established MoCCA Arts Festival collection, to be expanded annually.

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This is a really neat idea, as a festival-specific prize, and I hope it goes well. If you’re exhibiting, google images of the jury, stick by your table that afternoon, and be ready to give them samples.

Update: (March 26) The Society of Illustrators has released new submission guidelines for the award. If you are an artist attending the show with a new self-published work, you may send in five copies by THURSDAY, March 28. So not much advance notice, and this section is hilarious!

Cartoonists published by established independent publishers (not to mention corporate ones) like Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, D&Q, Secret Acres are not eligible; those cartoonists have already achieved fame and wealth and are not eligible for an award designed to discover new and emerging talent and to reward youth and pluck. If “youth” and “pluck” do not describe you, do not submit your work.

“Fame and wealth” just because one of those publishers put out your work? Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Clearly, they’re going for humor in this release, since they go on to say about the judges, “Ties will be determined by arm-wrestling in the privacy of their luxurious juror suite.”

By the way, if you’re in the city for the show, you may want to visit a special exhibit the Society of Illustrators has on until May 11, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman.

Highlights include: Kurtzman life drawings from 1941; rarely-seen late ’40s strips done for the New York Herald-Tribune as well as for Marvel’s Stan Lee; key covers, strips, and full stories Kurtzman created for MAD, Frontline Combat, Two-Fisted Tales, Humbug, and Help!, sometimes in collaboration with fellow comics geniuses Will Elder and Jack Davis. In addition, “Kurtzmania”, numerous rare artifacts and ancillary publications seldom seen by the public, will be on display.

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