If I’ve got my dates right* nominations for the Eagle Awards have now closed. The Eagles were one of the things that were missing for me at Bristol this year – over the past few years they’ve become something of a feature of Saturday Night, presented by such luminaries as Mitch Benn and Simon Pegg**. I’m not sure exactly when they’re being held this year – I probably should’ve checked before I left the house, but I forgot, and since I’m typing this at the bottom of a quarry in the county of Derbyshire*** my access to the electric inter-web is somewhat sketchy, so I can’t check.****
It’s easy to be cynical about awards. Legend has it that the great Japanese film director Akira Kurasowa***** turned down a lifetime achievement Oscar on the grounds that they were just “self congratulatory bullshit”, and famously Stephen Kink, possibly the writer whose critical success has been most inversely proportional to his commercial prowess once commented that he’d take the millions of readers over a Pullitzer Prize any day. And there’s a bit of me – the cool, cynical bit of me that likes to play at being intellectual – that wants to agree.
But then, well.
Then I remember the year that my friends at Sequential Tart won an Eagle, and come to think of it the year that we here at Comics Bulletin (well, SBC, as we were back then) took home the flying statuette. And I think “Actually? That was pretty good.”
At the end of the say, it’s easy to dismiss awards ceremonies as nothing more than fluff and insincere back patting. A lot of the time, that’s what they are. Is the sum of human happiness raised by yet another gushing acceptance speech from a sobbing starlet in an over priced dress? Not really.
But that’s not really what ceremonies like The Eagle Awards are about. No. They’re about Biff from A.C.E. Comics’ furious rebuttal of Dez Skinn’s outspoken attack on Judge Dredd the Megazine a couple of years ago. They’re about a whole bunch of folk getting together in a big room to tell people that their work is good. They’re about having a laugh and celebrating the best there is. And yes, they’re about sitting around in the bar afterwards and discussing who should have won.
Awards like The Eagles celebrate the best, and they stimulate discussion about what the best actually is. They make people talk about quality and excellence, and they bring stuff that’s worth a look to the attention of people who wouldn’t normally pay it any attention. They’re good on every level, they really are, so long as you don’t take then too seriously.
And so, I’ll be paying the Eagle Awards a little more attention this year. And I’ll be thinking a little more about the Jesters too. Up until now they’ve been more than a little haphazard, and pretty much entirely bestowed at my own whim. Now, obviously I am all knowing and all seeing, but even I can’t read everything that’s out there, so if the Jesters are to mean anything I need to listen to what you lot have to say. So what do you think? Time for a bit of a discussion.
Who is the best writer of 2009? Warren Ellis? Garth Ennis? Tony Lee? Can you even compare them, or is it like trying to judge apples against oranges? And if it is, how the hell do you make a judgement? Come to think of it, even if you can compare one writer with another what criteria do you use? What if there’s a really great writer, whose storytelling has the power to move you to tears writing in a genre you can’t stand?
You might actually hate their comics, but would that make them any less of a writer? Is it possible to separate the writer from the work? Is it any easier to separate an artist’s work from the content of the images? I kinda think that I know the work I like when I see it, regardless of what the picture is of – but then I don’t really know much about art…
And while we’re on the subject of art – who gets the credit anyway? I’ve seen examples of how a good inker can make a mediocre artist look good, while a bad one can make a great artist look dire. And then there are colourists. At the “Who watched the Watchmen?” talk at Bristol this year I gained an insight into the input John Higgins had on Dave Gibbons’ work on that iconic project. Don’t get me wrong – the uncoloured work was awesome, but the coloured work contained even more layers of sublety.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that doing the whole awards thing properly takes expertise I just don’t have. Knowledge I don’t have either, come to think of it.
I mean, whatever my wife may occasionally suspect, I actually don’t buy every comic that gets published. So I need you. I need nominations. If you read something you think is exceptional, I need to know about it. Drop me an e-mail, or swing by the thread on the message board. If you’re a creator type, then you’re welcome to use this to plug your own stuff, although I’d prefer it if you were honest about it. You won’t be able to “ballot stuff” because there won’t be a ballot******.
I’d also like a few suggestions as to awards categories. Stuff like “Best Comic” and “Best Writer” are no-brainers, but is there an area of comic endeavour you think remains unrewarded? If there is, let me know and maybe I’ll create a Jester for them. I’d really like to make these things into a positive celebration that might actually do some people some good – but I can’t do it without you!
*And those of you who know me even a tiny little bit would not be surprised if that were to turn out to be the case…
**Some of you might not know Mitch Benn. You should. Very, very funny bloke. Google him. Better still, follow him on Twitter – he’d like that. I’m assuming everybody knows who Simon Pegg is. If you don’t, take a look at Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Run, Fatboy, Run!. Then stop looking at them and watch Spaced instead. Spaced was awesome.
****although if you’re reading this you’re pretty safe to assume that my mobile internet dongle did, in the end manage to connect…*******
*****And if I spelled that wrong there are no prizes at all for telling me so. Besides, since it’s a Japanese name it’s designed to be written in a different script, so any interpretation using the Roman Alphabet can be nothing more than a matter of opinion. So there.
******Oh, come on – you didn’t think I was going to turn this place into a democracy did you?
*******Actually, it didn’t. I’m just back – this is the first thing I did when I got home.