Official Press Release
NEW YORK, August 2, 2003 - As the ceremony honoring this year's Harvey Award winners and nominees drew to a close on Saturday night, the last few guests filed out of the Union Square offices of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA), aware that they had just witnessed the start of a new chapter in the history of comic art: the legendary Harvey Awards' new residency in the City of New York and their inaugural appearance as part of MoCCA.
August 2nd marked the 16th dispensation of the Harveys, one of comic and cartoon art's oldest and most prestigious awards, and the only one nominated and voted on solely by industry professionals. The twenty category winners therefore represent true industry favorites from the long list of groundbreaking and trend-setting works published in 2002. The Harveys were created in 1988 to honor Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993), an artistic genius who founded MAD magazine in 1952 and supplied cartoons for its first 28 issues. After leaving MAD, Kurtzman helmed several magazines including Trump (for Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner), Humbug, and Help! His work went on to inspire many off-kilter cartoonists in the 70's and beyond, leading to The New York Times' claim that "[to] historians of pop culture, Mr. Kurtzman is one of the most important figures in postwar America" and earning him the nickname of "father-in-law of underground comix".
This year was the first official pairing of the Harveys and MoCCA, New York's only physical museum devoted to the appreciation of the diverse and unique comic art form. The result was an awards ceremony unlike anything else in or outside of the industry. A roomful of professional comics fans that included journalists, politicians, and comics celebrities - both those being honored themselves and cohorts there to cheer on the nominees - sipped cocktails and munched hors d'oeuvres over a background of light jazz. A distinctly unique atmosphere was achieved by the addition of wall decorations by Peter Kuper, whose original art was already in place for a future MoCCA event ("Bug Out!", the release party for Peter Kuper's adaptation of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, will be held on Tuesday, August 12th at 6 p.m.). Kuper was proud to be able to contribute, remarking, "Harvey Kurtzman is one of the biggest influences on the field, and anything associated with Kurtzman is bound to be great".
Nellie Kurtzman, the youngest daughter of the award's namesake and the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Harvey board, presided over the evening. Nellie, who was inspired by her father's profound influence to help administer the Harvey Awards, remarked, "My father would have loved for there to be a museum with this mission in New York and it's a great thing for the awards to be associated with it. Finally, comics and cartoon art have a home in the city that has been the jumping off point for so many artists, including Harvey Kurtzman".
As the event kicked into high gear, attendees took a break from schmoozing to listen to speeches from Lawrence Klein, chairman and founder of the Museum, and Denis Kitchen, who spoke on behalf of the MoCCA Board of Advisors and the Harvey Awards Executive Committee (Kitchen's other industry credits include 25 years as the publisher of Kitchen Sink Press and founder and president of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). Klein was effusive about how satisfying it was to see MoCCA and the Harveys cooperating. "It will benefit both of us in the long term," Klein remarked later in the evening. "Seeing the two groups together is tangible evidence of the growth of both organizations. Cooperative ventures such as this will be a crucial tool in our efforts to bring proper respect to the art form." He cited this partnership as one of many initiatives that evidence the Museum's relentless pursuit of its mission to collect, preserve, study, display, and educate about comic and cartoon art. Kitchen added, "It's an honor to have been associated with the Harvey Awards for the past several years, both for the excellence they acknowledge in comic art and as a continuing connection with Harvey Kurtzman, an inspirational creator and innovator. I'm delighted that the awards will now have MoCCA as their permanent venue".
After the speeches, acerbic comic humorist and longtime Harvey Master of Ceremonies Evan Dorkin took the microphone and began announcing the awards. Much to the crowd's satisfaction, Dorkin kept up a lively patter throughout the evening, especially when he had to pause to accept the Special Award for Humor on his own behalf (for his work on Dork). He later commented, "It's always nice to know that some of your fellow creators liked your work enough to put your name down on the ballot". After several years of introducing award presenters, he was pleased to be able to announce the winners himself, adding, "I look forward to the official ceremony resuming next year under the auspices of MoCCA, and I am flattered to have been asked back as the event's emcee".
The presentation culminated in the naming of Best Artist Eduardo Risso (for 100 Bullets) and Best Writer Alan Moore (for Promethea). The remainder of the awards were distributed as follows:
Best Cartoonist: Jeff Smith for Bone
Special Award for Excellence in Presentation: Krazy and Ignatz (Fantagraphics)
Best New Series: Rubber Necker by Nick Bertozzi (Alternative Comics)
Best Continuing or Limited Series: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (ABC)
Best Single Issue or Story: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II, #1 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (ABC)
Best Graphic Album of Original Work: The Cartoon History of Universe, Volume III by Larry Gonick (W.W. Norton)
Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work: 20th Century Eightball by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Best Anthology: Comics Journal Summer Special (Fantagraphics)
Best Inker: Jaime Hernandez for Love and Rockets
Best Letterer: Todd Klein for Promethea
Best Colorist: Dave Stewart for Hellboy
Best Syndicated Strip: Mutts by Patrick McDonnell
Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation: B. Krigstein, Volume 1 (Fantagraphics)
Best Presentation of Foreign Material: Lone Wolf and Cub (Dark Horse)
Best Domestic Reprint Project: Krazy and Ignatz (Fantagraphics)
Best New Talent: Nick Bertozzi for Rubber Necker
Best Cover Artist: Adam Hughes for Wonder Woman
This year's Harvey winners join a select group that includes most of comics' recent luminaries, including frequent winners Sergio Aragones (Groo), Robert Crumb, Alex Ross (Kingdom Come), Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library), Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), and members of the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. For more information on the Harvey Awards, go to www.harveyawards.org. MoCCA and the Harveys would also like to thank this years financial and product sponsors: Big Apple Conventions, Bongo Comics Group, Cartoon Books, David at Color-by-Pergament, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Diamond Comic Distributors, Dynamic Forces, Fortant De France Wines, Slave Labor Graphics, and Stella Artois.
As pleasantly intimate as this year's ceremony was, MoCCA officials stressed that tonight's event was a fraction of what the comics community should expect next year, when the Harvey Awards go back to being dispensed at a gala banquet and become part of the Third Annual MoCCA Art Festival (June 26-27, 2004). Considering the staggering success of the first two Art Fests, and that the growth of next year's festival will most likely go beyond the addition of the Harveys, next year's installment promises to be an event that no comics fan will want to miss.
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts education organization dedicated to the collection, preservation, study and presentation of one of the world's most popular art forms. MoCCA's mission is to promote greater understanding and appreciation of the artistic, cultural and historical significance of comic and cartoon art.
The museum's headquarters - combining both office and exhibition space - are located in New York City at 32 Union Square East, Suite 600. The space is generally open on Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., and select Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The schedule is subject to change according to MoCCA's event/exhibit calendar and availability of volunteers, so visitors are advised to call ahead (212-254-3511) before visiting.
Although MoCCA is proud and grateful to have office/exhibition space in Union Square, the organization - which will celebrate its second anniversary in November 2003 - is still seeking funding and appropriate facilities for a larger, permanent home for the museum in New York City.