Kleefeld On Webcomics #68: "Of Eisners and Harveys"

By Sean Kleefeld

Comics, like many artistic mediums, have a number of industry awards that are given out annually. The earliest was the Reuben Award from the National Cartoonist Society, and named for famed cartoonist Rube Goldberg. Though it was originally called the Billy DeBleck Memorial Award, it was first given to Milton Caniff in 1946 for his work on Terry and the Pirates. The Award was renamed in 1954, and all the previous winners received a Reuben statuette. Tom Richmond was named the most recent recipient this past May.

In 1985, Fantagraphics began a Kirby Award, named after Jack Kirby. It was managed by Dave Olbrich, an employee of Fantagraphics. In 1987, a dispute over control of the Kirbys erupted and it was discontinued in favor of two new awards: The Harveys, named after Harvey Kurtzman, and The Eisners, named after Will Eisner. Both are voted on by industry professionals and run several months apart, so as not to compete too directly with one another. This past week, nominees for the Harveys were announced with final awards to be given out in September, and next week, at San Diego Comic Con, the winners of The Eisners will be announced.

Unlike the Reuben, which has only one winner each year, both The Eisners and The Harveys have several categories. The early years featured a relatively limited number of categories for each: Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Single Issue, etc. But they have both expanded over the years and in 2005 and 2006 respectively added a category for online work, as several existing categories were effectively closed off to them. (Best Cover Artist, for example, or Best Graphic Album.)

This year, The Eisner nominees for Best Digital comic include:

Bahrain by Josh Neufeld

Battlepug by Mike Norton

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Outfoxed by Dylan Meconis

Sarah and the Seed by Ryan Andrews

The winners -- chosen this year by the final judges Benjamin Saunders, Larry Marder, Brigid Alverson, Calum Johnston, Jesse Karp, and Mary Sturhann -- will be announced at an evening ceremony on Friday, July 13 as part of the convention activities.

The Harvey Award winners are selected by a straight vote tally, with ballots available to all comic professionals. Voting this year is open through August 17 with winners being announced at the Baltimore Comic-Con. The nominees for Best Online Comics Work are:

Battlepug by Mike Norton

Bucko by Erika Moen and Jeff Parker

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Gronk by Katie Cook

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

It should also be noted that Beaton and her Hark! A Vagrant have also been nominated for the Special Award for Humor in Comics and the Best Cartoonist Award. Comfort Love and Adam Withers are also up for Best Cartoonist for Rainbow in the Dark.

While the webcomic awards tend to get overshadowed by the “primary” categories, they are no less significant. As they’re all voted on by industry professionals, too, you can rest assured that the nominees are all of the highest caliber. While their individual efforts might not be your particular cup of tea (by being in a genre you don’t care for, for example) they’re all worth checking out for the quality of work being done.

Best of luck to all the creators mentioned here, and best of reading experiences to all of the readers out there!

Related Posts:

Kleefeld On Webcomics #67: The Buffer

Kleefeld On Webcomics #66: We're Going On An Adventure

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