Jeremy Love was the big winner at the Glyph Comics Awards last Friday night, taking home five awards, including Best Writer, Best Artist and Story of the Year for his Zuda Comics collection, "Bayou." Love's online "Bayou" strip won Best Comic Strip, and his lead character, Lee Wagstaff, was declared Best Female Character.
The Glyph Comics Awards, presented in conjunction with the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia, PA, recognize the best in comics made by, for and about people of color. Their goal is to encourage more diverse and high-quality work, and to encourage new creators to add their voices to the field. These goals were much in evidence at the awards ceremony, where diverse creators gathered to celebrate creativity and community, and tell chicken jokes.
In his opening remarks, host Jamar Nicholas detailed two recent news stories, both involving fried chicken. He was trying to make a point about the ways media portrays people depending on their circumstances and on who is doing the reporting, but lost the thread of his narrative amid some good-natured heckling. "I'm going to start with the nominees and I'm going to bring up the first presenter. Somebody remind me about the chicken thing. I'll have something at the end of the show."
The "chicken thing" probably would have ended there, but Tony Isabella, called up to present the first award, wouldn't let it go. "Can we wait on this for a little bit, because I really want to hear more about this chicken stuff!"
Later, Jamal Igle presented the award for Best Female Character. "I'm not going to make any chicken jokes, because I think that would just be fowl," he said.
Despite the frivolity, the serious goals of the awards were not forgotten. Comics historian William Foster spoke of the importance of remembering past portrayals of African characters. "Remembrance is what I do. If we do not remember, it goes away," he said. "One day people will say it never existed. There never were things that made fun of us and told us we were not human. There were not images of us as savages, speaking pidgin English... Never as princes, never as kings, never as queens, who we were, and who we are."
Looking forward is as important as remembering. "Kids in the neighborhood love to draw and they can't wait to put it down on paper and show it to people, and there's a magic in that." said Jamar Nicholas. "Now that I do this for a living, I don't even think about it, I just give back. I love to teach the children and let the little black kids know that you can do this, and it's okay to do this. I just feel like that's something you have to do. If you're a creator, you have to give back, because these kids don't know. They don't know they can do this. You have to pass the magic trick on."
"I'm still kind of buggin' that I'm doing this," he said. "And then once you meet more people that are doing it, that look like you, it kind of empowers you."
Winners of the 2009 Glyph Comics Awards were:
Fan Award for Best Comic: "Vixen: Return of the Lion" by G. Willow Wilson and Cafu, DC Comics
Best Comic Strip: "Bayou" by Jeremy Love, Zuda Comics
Best Reprint Publication: "Me and the Devil Blues," adapted by David Ury, Del Rey
Best Cover: "Unknown Soldier" #1, drawn by Igor Kordey, DC Comics
Rising Star Award: "The Hole: Consumer Culture" by Damian Duffy and John Jennings, Front Forty Press
Best Female Character: Lee Wagstaff, Bayou by Jeremy Love, Zuda Comics
Best Male Character: Black Lightning, "Final Crisis: Submit" by Grant Morrison, Mathew Clark, Norm Rapmund, Rob Hunter and Don Ho (Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden)
Best Artist: Jeremy Love, "Bayou," Zuda Comics
Best Writer: Jeremy Love, "Bayou," Zuda Comics
Story of the Year: "Bayou" by Jeremy Love, Zuda Comics