The winners of the 2012 British Comics Awards were announced Saturday evening at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds. This is the first year for the awards, which were announced in January. Here's the list of winners:
Best BookNelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix
Best ComicBad Machinery, by John Allison
Emerging TalentJosceline Fenton
Young People's Comic AwardHilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson
Hall of Fame AwardRaymond Briggs
This is a nice, short list—maybe too short, but it's only the first year, and it makes sense to start small. When the awards were first unveiled, Richard Bruton, a member of the committee that drew up the shortlist, described them as a U.K.-exclusive complement to the Eagle Awards, which tend to include a lot of American comics and creators. The comics scene in the U.K. has been burgeoning over the past few years, and a set of awards that recognizes that is long overdue. Take a look at the nominations — and I could have doubled that list, even sitting here on the other side of the pond.
That said, there are some interesting things going on. The winner of the "Best Comic" category is a webcomic, and no fuss is made about it. Digital and print comics are considered in the same category, which I think makes a lot of sense, as the lines between the two are getting more and more porous. And it's great that with only five categories, one was set aside for "young people." I hope to see that one grow a bit, though, as there is an abundance of excellent material for children in the U.K. right now, and the nominations didn't even scratch the surface. But if they were going to add just one category next year, I'd advocate for one that covers archival collections or writing about comics, as writers and publishers are just beginning to mine the history of British comics and it's a trend to be encouraged.
Finally, the awards seem to shy away from mass-market comics. With only five awards, they naturally have to limit the pool, but there's some good stuff going on in the pages of The Beano, The Phoenix and Judge Dredd, and it would be too bad if those artists were not recognized in coming years.