Harvey Awards Go Capeless as Indies Dominate

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.

pizza dogThis 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.

saga 22What 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

 

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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