Baltimore Comic-Con 2012: Harvey Awards Wrap-Up

Phil LaMarr Hosts The Harvey Awards

Every year at Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harvey Awards honor excellence in the comics industry in an intimate ballroom setting. Interestingly, both the Harvey Awards, and their San Diego equivalent, the Eisner Awards, were created in 1988 in response to the discontinuation of The Kirby Awards. But whereas the Eisners are initially chosen by a committee, then submitted for public voting, the Harveys are publically nominated through and through. Either way? It’s mostly about the drinking.

This was actually my first time ever attending a comic book award show, having missed the Eisners pretty much every year I’ve headed to SDCC; and having never attended BCC before. That said, it wasn’t that much different from any other awards show: the celebrity host joked about the ceremony running too long; picked on one much loved guy in the audience; and yes, awards were given out. Still, with an industry as small as comic books, there’s more of a relaxed, collegiate atmosphere at an event like this, more in-joke ribbing, and, well, a lot more no-shows.

The last didn’t stop anyone from having fun, though. After about two hours of drinking and mingling, the crowd sat down for a dinner of crab-cakes (hey, it’s Baltimore) and chicken, followed by sumptuous dessert and coffee, before letting the rabble in to mingle and watch the awards proper. Attendees were also given an enormous sack of comic books and graphic novels from the main sponsors, as well as a cartoon emblazoned pint glass (leaving many attendees puzzled how to carry a pint glass around with them for the rest of the night, though I think they figured it out).

Ross Richie, Founder of BOOM! Comics

After the opening remarks from Paul McSpadden, host Phil LaMarr was welcomed onstage, and proceeded to good natured-ly skewer comics from a fan’s perspective. The crowd ate most of it, howling at jokes about continuity reboots, and Irish Lanterns. It was actually an interesting contrast with Keynote Speaker Ross Richie (of BOOM! Comics) speech about how comic books are now the mainstream, and not just geek culture as they were even a decade ago… Yet don’t sell as well as they do internationally.

It was an interesting speech, with some salient points and facts. In France, for example, comics are called the “eighth art,” and sell as well as pretty much every other piece of pop culture; and the same for Japan. Yet in America, the birthplace of comic books, we’re floundering. Richie didn’t offer many solutions, so much as raise a question… And you got a sense, after Mark Waid’s incendiary speech about the role of digital downloads in saving comics that Richie might have been playing things a little safe.

Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing) presents the awards for Best Letterer and Best Colorist.

Still, the night wasn’t about ruffling feathers, it was about celebrating. There were a number of great moments:

– Inker Joe Rubenstein spontaneously being brought up to the stage by presenter Dean Haspiel, and giving an inspiring speech about how he’s gotten to work with some of the greats of the industry, and how much joy he’s gotten out of letting their pencils shine; rather than pushing his inks to the forefront.

– Eric Powell, before presenting the award for Best Artist, thanking the Harveys for inviting them to drink at 7pm, eat at 8pm, keep drinking, and then not put him onstage until 10pm when he was full of whiskey… Then jokingly presenting the award to himself.

– An emotional tribute to Joe Kubert, who was post-humously given the Humanitarian Award for his life-long work (and creation of) The Kubert School.

– But the biggest moment, and the biggest surprise, was when Stan Lee entered (not the surprise), welcomed John Romita Sr. up on stage with him (also not the surprise), and then presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to John Romita Jr. JR Jr even quipped, “Imagine, getting a lifetime achievement award… From my Dad!” But clearly, it was a special moment for all of them, and the whole crowd.

Stan Lee, joking that he only came there because he thought they were giving an award to him.
Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.
John Romita Jr. accepts the lifetime achievement award from his father.
John Romita Jr.

All in all, it was a fun show, a look at the inner circle of the comic book industry at their most relaxed, and also, a great way to see all of the industry, from Marvel and DC, to Dark Horse and Archaia, to even Pantheon and Drawn & Quarterly all in the same room at the same time. Here’s the complete list of winners, with some choice pictures of winners (and presenters) throughout:

BEST LETTERER – Chris Eliopoulos for “FEAR ITSELF”, published by Marvel Comics.

BEST COLORIST – Dave Stewart for “HELLBOY: THE FURY”, published by Dark Horse Comics.

Dirk Wood (VP of Marketing for IDW) presents the awards for Best Syndicated Strip or Panel and Best Online Comics Work.

BEST SYNDICATED STRIP – “CUL DE SAC”, by Richard Thompson, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate.

BEST ONLINE COMICS WORK – “HARK! A VAGRANT”, by Kate Beaton, harkavagrant.com; print edition published by Drawn and Quarterly.

Dean Haspiel (The Quitter) presents the award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material.

BEST AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL – “THE MANARA LIBRARY, VOLUME 1: INDIAN SUMMER AND OTHER STORIES”, published by Dark Horse Comics.

Joe Rivera accepts the Best Inker award, with thanks for getting to work with his son on the art.

BEST INKER – Joe Rivera for “DAREDEVIL”, published by Marvel Comics.

Mark Waid accepts the Best New Series award, on behalf of himself, Joe Rivera, and penciller Paolo Rivera.
Mark Waid, jokingly refusing to share the Harvey with Joe Rivera and Paolo Rivera.
Paolo Rivera, somehow pushing past Mark Waid to also accept the award.

BEST NEW SERIES – “DAREDEVIL”, published by Marvel Comics.

MOST PROMISING NEW TALENT – Sara Pichelli, for “ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN”, published by Marvel Comics.

SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS – Kate Beaton for “HARK! A VAGRANT”, harkavagrant.com; printed edition published by Drawn and Quarterly.

BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC PUBLICATION FOR YOUNGER READERS – “ANYA’S GHOST”, published by First Second.

BEST ANTHOLOGY – “DARK HORSE PRESENTS”, published by Dark Horse Comics.

Thom Zahler (Love & Capes), who also did some of the art for Baltimore Comic-Con’s yearbook, presents the awards for Best Domestic Reprint Project, and Best Cover Artist.

BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT – “WALT SIMONSON’S THE MIGHTY THOR, ARTIST’S EDITION”, published by IDW.

Walt Simonson accepts the award for Best Domestic Reprint Project, gets a standing ovation.

BEST COVER ARTIST – J. H. WILLIAMS for “BATWOMAN”, published by DC Comics.

SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION – “WALT SIMONSON’S THE MIGHTY THOR, ARTIST’S EDITION”, published by IDW.

Walt Simonson accepts the Special Award For Excellence in Presentation, gets slightly less of a standing ovation to laughs from the crowd.
Paul Levitz (Legion of Superheroes) accepts the Humanitarian Award with an emotional speech about the impact of Joe Kubert’s life – and death.

BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC ALBUM – “JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND”, published by Archaia Entertainment.

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL,HISTORICAL OR JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION – “GENIUS ISOLATED: THE LIFE AND ART OF ALEX TOTH”, published by IDW.

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED – “THE DEATH RAY”, published by Drawn and Quarterly.

BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES – “DAREDEVIL”, published by Marvel Comics.

Larry Hama (Wolverine, G.I. Joe) presents the award for Best Writer.

BEST WRITER – Mark Waid for “DAREDEVIL”, published by Marvel Comics.

Having already won all the awards, Mark Waid now tries to steal the Hyatt’s microphone. Kidding, he actually sincerely thanked everyone for what he called, “An amazing year.”
Eric Powell (The Goon) presents the award for Best Artist.

BEST ARTIST – J. H. Williams for “BATWOMAN”, published by DC Comics.

Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon) presents the award for Best Cartoonist, which he noted, “should be for everyone,” because cartooning is what everyone in the room is involved in. Discuss.

BEST CARTOONIST – Kate Beaton for “HARK! A VAGRANT”, harkavagrant.com; printed edition published by Drawn and Quarterly.

BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY – “JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND”, published by Archaia Entertainment.