At this past weekend’s Baltimore Comic Con, the winners of the 26th Annual Harvey Awards were announced, and the results told us one thing for certain: we are living in the Indie Age of comics.
From the outset, the field was largely dominated by independent creators and titles, with only Daredevil, Hawkeye, Batman, and All-New X-Men garnering nods for the Big Two. As recently as 2012, the nominees and winners largely represented the tried-and-true super-heroic titans of the industry with but occasional nods to undeniably outstanding work from the independent sphere.
This year, though, it was the Behemoths of Burbank and the Kings of New York (DC and Marvel, respectively) who found themselves mostly on the outside looking in. While Marvel took home honors thanks to the continuing excellence of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, which won Best Single Issue for the silent “Pizza Dog” tale, and Best Inks for Wade Von Grawbadger’s work on All-New X-Men, every remaining award went either to small-press publishers or the growing powerhouse that is Image Comics. All told, Image won seven of the twenty-two awards given to individual titles or creators, proving that it is and will remain a force to be reckoned with. They were evenly matched by competitor Dark Horse, which took home seven Harvey Awards of their own, including Best Anthology, which may as well be named after Dark Horse Presents at this point.
What this means is that, from a critical standpoint, the industry has officially turned a corner. This year’s Harvey Awards proved that the focus has turned squarely from titles in of the cape-and-cowl genre and towards books which veer into stranger, less-traveled territory. Controversial as it has been, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have built a contender worthy of Rocky in Saga, which carried off no less than four awards (Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Cover Artist, and Best Continuing Series) to utterly dominate the field. That titles like Abstract’s Rachel Rising and KaBOOM!’s Adventure Time walked away with nods of their own is proof positive that the eyes of the comic-reading world are shifting. Though the dollar share remains firmly in the hands of the perennial powerhouses (thanks in large part to the boost they receive from lifelong completionists, collectors, and a rapidly metastasizing cancer of variant covers), the hearts of readers are with the independents.
Welcome to the Indie Age. Long may it reign.
A COMPLETE LIST OF HARVEY AWARDS WINNERS
Harvey Kurtzman Hall of Fame Award: Charles M. Schulz
Dick Giordano Humanitarian of the Year Award: Stan Goldberg
Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award: Herb Trimpe
Best Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, SAGA; Image Comics
Best Artist: Fiona Staples, SAGA; Image Comics
Best Cover Artist: Fiona Staples; SAGA, Image Comics
Best Cartoonist: Paul Pope, BATTLING BOY; First Second
Best Letterer: Terry Moore, RACHEL RISING; Abstract Studios
Best Colorist: Dave Stewart, HELLBOY: THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS; Dark Horse Comics
Best Syndicated Strip or Panel: “DICK TRACY,” Joe Staton and Mike Curtis; Tribune Media Services
Best Online Comics Work: BATTLEPUG, Mike Norton
Best American Edition of Foreign Material: ATTACK ON TITAN; Kodansha
Best Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger, ALL NEW X-MEN; Marvel Comics
Best New Series: SEX CRIMINALS; Image Comics
Most Promising New Talent: Chip Zdarsky, SEX CRIMINALS; Image Comics
Special Award for Humor in Comics: Ryan North, ADVENTURE TIME; KaBOOM! Studios
Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers: ADVENTURE TIME; KaBOOM! Studios
Best Graphic Album Previously Published: MOUSE GUARD VOL. 3: THE BLACK AXE; BOOM! Studios/Archaia
Best Anthology: DARK HORSE PRESENTS; Dark Horse
Best Domestic Reprint Project: BEST OF COMIX BOOK: WHEN MARVEL COMICS WENT UNDERGROUND; Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse Comics
Best Biographical, Historical or Journalistic Presentation: THE FIFTH BEATLE: THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY, Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker; Dark Horse Comics
Special Award for Excellence in Presentation: BEST OF COMIX BOOK: WHEN MARVEL COMICS WENT UNDERGROUND, John Lind; Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse Comics
Best Original Graphic Album: THE FIFTH BEATLE: THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY; Dark Horse Comics
Best Continuing or Limited Series: SAGA; Image Comics
Best Single Issue or Story: Pizza Is My Business, HAWKEYE #11; Marvel Comics