Within moments of the announcement this morning of the nominees for the 2009 Harvey Awards, Twitter was abuzz with congratulatory notes. Minutes after that, the criticisms began.
“Have 15 friends? You, too, can get a Harvey Award nomination,” wrote frequently outspoken cartoonist Evan Dorkin. “This year’s list is worse than ever, makes the Eisners look like the Nobels. … I mean, nothing personal to the nominees that don’t suck or didn’t get in their [sic] by ballot stuffing. But, come on — three Zuda comics noms? … Okay, let’s rephrase: Nothing against anyone. But imo the Harvey Awards are so obviously broken it’s not funny.”
Dorkin wasn’t alone in his questions and complaints. (Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks summed up this morning’s Twitter traffic as “Equal number of tweets offering congrats to Harvey noms & discussion about the ballot stuffing.”)
Some of the questions center on the five nods for John Gallagher’s Buzzboy, whose presence in 2008 was a story in a Free Comic Book Day all-ages anthology and an issue of Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rules! sold at conventions and select stores.
“I am positive that many across the internet will offer up a collective ‘What Th–?’ about us getting the recognition we are getting,” Gallagher writes on his website, “and I join them in that — but i really do appreciate those that may have thrown their support our way.”
Commenting at Comics Worth Reading, Gallagher adds: “I didn’t complain about NOT being nominated in the past, so I certainly won’t complain about being nominated now, I’m honored. But, personally, I think me being nominated for best writer against someone as fantastic as Grant Morrison is pretty silly, but I am proud that some of my fellow Sky-Dog creators and friends are nominated in their categories.”
But the questions don’t end with Buzzboy. For instance, Dorkin wonders how reprints or archival editions, such as Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner and Al Jaffee’s Tall Tales, can be eligible in multiple categories. (Baker and Nat Turner received four nominations, Jaffee and Tall Tales three.)
Charges of ballot-stuffing also are bouncing around Twitter, with commenters pointing to instances of unlikely and multiple nominations.
“… I voted for NASCAR HEROES #5 thirty two times!” jokes Atomic Robo artist Scott Wegener. NASCAR Heroes #5 was nominated for Best Single Issue or Story, alongside such titles as Acme Novelty Library #19, Love and Rockets Vol. 3 #1 and Y: The Last Man #60.
(Update: A commenter at The Beat notes that NASCAR Heroes was produced by Gallagher’s Sky-Dog Comics for NASCAR and Starbridge Media Group. It appears that Gallagher wrote and edited at least some issues of the series.)
“Does anyone honestly think that ballot box stuffing automatically makes a subpar book look good?” writes manga blogger Deb Aoki. “Ballot box stuffing accomplishes 2 counter-productive things: 1) it makes the awards look cheap & 2) it makes you look desperate.”
I have an email out to Harvey Awards organizers. I’ll update when I receive a response.