And Your Winner for the 2009 Harvey Award for Best Online Comics Work…

… is PvP by Scott Kurtz. The webcomic beat out several worthy contenders, including:

  • HARK! A VAGRANT, by Kate Beaton — a Webcomic Overlook favorite; when’s someone finally going to hand her an award, people?
  • HIGH MOON, by Steve Ellis, David Gallaher and Scott O. Brown — which is also good, but won the award last year.
  • POWER OUT, by Nathan Schreiber — reviewed here, and, along with Sin Titulo, was also an Eisner nominee.
  • SIN TITULO, by Cameron Stewart — which would probably have been my favorite to win the thing based on Cameron Stewart’s name alone. Good thing I don’t keep track of the Harveys, huh? I would’ve looked pretty silly.

The awards, which coincidentally were also being emceed by Scott Kurtz, were presented at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Kurtz joins a very short list of Online Comic winners, which include James Kochalka (American Elf), two-time winner Nicolas Gurewitch (Perry Bible Fellowship), and the High Moon guys.

As for the other webcomic-related nominations, the Act-I-Vate Primer was up for Best Anthology, but lost out to DC’s Wednesday Comics. A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge lost the Best Previously Published Graphic Novel Award to Image Comic’s Mice Templar. Jenny Frison of The Dreamer, which has been nominated at the Harveys before, was up for Best Cover Artist, but lost to Hellboy (but, let’s face it, it’s hard to beat Mike Mignola). Steve Ellis was in the running for Best Inker for High Moon, but came runner up to Klaus Janson (The Amazing Spider-Man). Finally, Rob Guillory took home the Best New Talent award for Chew, which meant that Nathan Schieber of Power Out had to settle for the “Nominated for Best New Talent” title.

All in all, not a bad year for webcomic recognition at the Harveys. Still, if the nominations handed out this year and last year are any indication, there’s a movement toward something we can now call established brands: several multiple nominations for Zuda Comics, Act-I-Vate, and Transmission-X. Transmission-X has now established itself as a formidable brand with the Shuster and Eisner Awards going to Sin Titulo.

Despite the High Moon win last year, the Harveys seem to be leaning toward gag-a-day strips while the Eisner seems to be favoring long-form webcomics. It might be some time before either award recognizes short-form and long-form as two fundamentally different genres, but at least we seem to have a clear division regarding the nature of the awards themselves.

(h/t Robot 6)


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on August 30, 2010, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. You know, it’s stuff like this that makes me not take awards seriously anymore. Not just in comics. I’ve long ago lost faith in the Hugo and Nebula Awards, as well.

    • Oddly enough, Scott Kurtz would probably agree with you. He made a remark a year ago on the Webcomics Weekly podcast that awards were really easy to game.

      • I should add, though, that I do like how awards raise awareness for comics that may not have been discovered otherwise. It’s an imperfect system, but it does accomplish what they set out to do: get people talking. About the nominees, about who should have been nominated, why or why not the winner deserved the award, etc. That’s why I’m one of the judges for The Webcomic List awards coming up later this year.

        • Well, haven’t you come far ;). But I don’t entirely subscribe to that point of view. While awards do get the word out, that word rarely travels beyond the people already familiar with the subject matter, in my experience. Partly to blame for this, is the niche effect. Which is to say, people will have easier standards for things in “their” niche, as compared to the mainstream. PvP winning an award tells me this is happening to webcomics, just as it’s happening to science fiction and fantasy. The problem with this, when it does drum up attention from outside the webcomic community, is that people’ll expect something of equal quality to mainstream award stuff. But it isn’t. And then the best the niche seems to have on offer seems quite bad indeed. This exact process happened to me with animé. I found I can’t trust the judgement of anyone who’s deeply enough involved with it to know anything about it, because their perception is biased. And, like I said, with the Hugo and Nebula Awards, too. These are now more a warning than a recommendation, to me. So, to end this longwinded (and possibly pompous) post: I think awards can do quite a bit of harm, if they fall for the niche effect.

  2. As far as The Eisners favoring long form, you are correct. There was a judge who talked about judging this years Eisners in his blog, and he said that strip comics were pretty much immediately dismissed.

    As far as awards in general go, It would be a nice pat on the back. But as a whole, I feel most type of awards are flawed.

    • Na,ca m-a intimidat Patapievici si i-am cerut scuze agramat bagand cratima in mijlocul pr0iemulun(&#822o;i-i”),corect “ii”. Iaca ca si incultura si agramatismul e molipsitor.De la blogul ultrasului scelerat Mihai Giurgea mi se trage.

  3. At least with the Harveys, unlike whatever SPX gives out, I’ve heard of all the comics and they actually update.

    TWCL is giving out awards again? Those wacky kids and their nutty ideas.

  4. You know, I think I’d feel better about that result if Kurtz hadn’t complained loudly about wanting a Harvey award on PVP’s blog.

  5. At least Penny Arcade didn´t win. 🙂

  6. Wow you and I really are in different universes. The Harvey nominees for online comics left me scratching my head why such a random selection of comics were selected. I had heard of none except PVP and Hark. While they were good quality I could rattle off 10 more deserving comics without even thinking…

    Gunnerkrig, Phoenix Requiem, Goblins, Trying Human, Girl Geinus, Freek Angels, Earth Song, XKCD, Sinfest, Oglaf, ReMind, Supernomal Step, Flipside, Dreamland Chronicals, Shadow Girls, Digger, Fey Winds… and so on. Best no fill up the comment comic names.

    It didn’t seem like an insider game but more like they didn’t even care to investigate any comics. The fact that High Moon, a comic that has been pulled from the web, was in the the “online comic” category seem a bit odd. Call me funny but I kind of believe that an online comic should be hosted online. Why not just nominate an ice-cream sunday for best online comic. Because I think we can all agree that ice-cream sundays are very good and they are as much an online comic as High Moon is an ONLINE comic at this point.

    • To be fair to the Harveys, Zuda went offline at July 1 while the ballots were sent out July 11. I’m guessing that the ballots were pretty much set, and to change it at that point would mean having to go through the process to evaluate a different set of candidates. Plus, High Moon, under the definition of online that you and I are going for, was at least still operating on that same guideline until July 1. Should Zuda Comics still be eligible for online categories? I guess we’ll see nect year.

      Also, I didn’t mean to imply that there was an insider game, rather that certain parties are now quite adept at getting their nominations noticed. Act-I-Vate, for example, has had at least one candidate in the running at the Eisners for the last three years now. (And, in my opinion, every single one of their submittals have been very underwhelming.) All I’m trying to say that those three parties (Act-I-Vate, Transmission-X, and Zuda) are doing a much better job than everyone else of getting their works noticed.

      So what can be done to get more deserving candidates noticed? Frankly, I’d hoped Order of Tales would’ve been nominated. But how are the judges supposed to even notice that it exists or that it would be worthwhile to check out to even consider for the award? Unfortunately, without the backing of strong community like the collectives I mentioned, it’s kind of impossible. Even PvP. I don’t know if it would’ve been knocking on the door so many times if not for its ties to Halfpixel, Penny Arcade, and, yes, Image Comics.

      • I guess my question is should we care about the Harvey awards at all? There selection is such a joke and they are very stuck in an old fashion mindset should the webcomic community even care about it? It’s not like a Harvey nomination or victory translates into a boost in online stats (I’ve checked this. No noticeable differences in site traffic for nomination or victory according to Project Wonderful or Alexa). Why are we wasting our breath on them?

        It seem to me the Harvey Awards get a lot more from being mentioned by a popular webcomic than a webcomic gets from winning the award? Our business model is online and the Harvey’s online presence is next to nill.

        The argument that it would have been difficult to change the ballot in 10 days is valid but not compelling. It seem to still speak to a lack of regard for webcomcis “We can’t change the ballot now. That would be too hard.” Sorry it’s too hard but leaving it on the ballot does sort of make it look like a joke. So maybe someone put in some late nights so the award is relevant? You have interns don’t you?

        I feel like webcomics are like early automakers desperately looking for the approval of the horse whip producers union. They will never really respect us and frankly we don’t need their approval.

        • If the Harveys do get embraced by webcomic types more than the Eisners, I’m guessing that Eisner voters strongly favor established comic types. Look who won the last four: Steve Purcell (Sam & Max), Joss Whedon, Carl Speed MacNeil (whose book was apparently in print form for a long time before going online exclusively), and Cameron Stewart (probably best known for drawing Grant Morrison stories).

          And, like I said, the best thing about awards is that it does give us something to talk about. Webcomics are decentralized as it is. I mean, not a day goes past when I read a comment lamenting that, “I can’t believe we’ve reached a day when people talk about webcomics and they have no idea what Penny Arcade is!” (Which, frankly, isn’t so unbelievable. Anyone digging through early posts on this blog in 2007 can find that I had no idea what Penny Arcade was.) It may sound arrogant to say that these five are the best … but, think about it, when we’re not talking about awards what do we talk about? Most of the time, when we’re not talking about the latest drama or tools of the trade, it’s the same discussion: what are good webcomics, what are bad webcomics. Awards discussions are sort of an anchor that limits focus to five items that everyone can latch on to. It’s no different than me saying on this blog, “Rice Boy is a great webcomic I think you should all read!”

          Plus, the webcomic writer gets to take home a nice award. Sure, maybe it doesn’t translate into money, but that’s not supposed to be awards are supposed to be about anyway. It’s about recognition. I mean, I don’t go bowling to win a bowling trophy so endorsement deal come in. I try to win that bowling trophy because it’s a nice goal to aim for. Heck, even the print comic Eisner winners barely see a change in sales for winning the award.

          • I am afraid I have to disagree with you again. Rice boy is an AMAZING comic.

            You do make a good point about having a focus. And you are right that the Harveys a making a modest effort. It’s just so modest.

          • The fact people lament about there being people who knows webcomics yet not knowing about Penny Arcade is the true lament.

            Today, for webcomic readers, there’s far better entertainment around in shape of comics that doesn’t require the reader to play the latest games and read the latest gaming news in order to understand the jokes.
            Meanwhile, for gamers looking for extra free entertainment, there’s also a lot of things more entertaining than rehashed gaming jokes, such as video reviewers like AVGN and Irate gamer, and machinimas like Red vs. Blue.

            Gaming webcomics, save for those displaying videogame characters rather than whining gamers, will always be temporary entertainment- They last till the reader gets tired of the same rehashed jokes and discover other types of webcomics.

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