The Ignatz Awards were handed out Saturday night at Small Press Expo in a ceremony that culminated with a mock wedding in which Simon Hanselmann married Comics (represented by a stack of graphic novels and real-life creator Michael DeForge).
Named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, the festival prize recognizes achievement in comics and cartooning. Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists, and then voted on by SPX attendees.
Executive Director Warren Bernard began the evening with some news about future events: Next year’s SPX, the 21st anniversary of the show, will focus on artists who have worked only during the 21st century; guests will include Michael DeForge, Matt Bors, Lilly Carre and Luke Pearson. In addition, Bernard announced, SPX and the Society of Illustrators will co-host an exhibit of the work of alt-weekly cartoonists, to be held in March at the Society of Illustrators in New York City.
Cathy G. Johnson, who received the award for Promising New Talent, used her moment at the podium not only to thank her family and collaborators, but also to make a statement:
I love comics. It is a medium that is very important to me. I love the culture, I feel very welcome, but it can also be frustrating. I feel like this year, and many years in the past, a lot of our peers have faced harassment, especially our female peers, and I think we need to work harder with solidarity to reject harassment in our profession.
The winners of the 2014 Ignatz Awards are:
Outstanding Story: “Brownout Biscuit,” from Octopus Pie: Dead Forever, by Meredith Gran
Outstanding Anthology or Collection: QU33R, edited by Robert Kirby
Outstanding Series: Demon, by Jason Shiga
Promising New Talent: Cathy G. Johnson for Jeremiah; Boy Genius; Until It Runs Clear
Outstanding Comic: Wicked Chicken Queen, by Sam Alden
Outstanding Mini-Comic: House of Women, by Sophie Goldstein
Outstanding Online Comic: Vattu, by Evan Dahm
Outstanding Graphic Novel: This One Summer, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
Outstanding Artist: Sam Bosma, Fantasy Basketball
For the second year in a row, the Ignatz Awards were sponsored by the digital comics service comiXology.
Following the ceremony, a four-piece band provided live music as DeForge, Annie Koyama of Koyama Press, Fantagraphics co-founder Gary Groth, and several others took the stage for the mock wedding. Hanselmann appeared dressed as a bride and made a series of vows to a stack of comics, and DeForge responded with vows of his own. Groth then concluded the ceremony with a kiss, and the party moved upstairs to the reception, which featured a chocolate fountain and a cake that Hanselmann scooped up with his hands to serve to guests.