CBC: Lulu nods put Ottawa graphic artist in hot seat (no, not really)

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2010/09/16/ottawa-graphic-artist.html#socialcomments

Von Allan has a nod for best newcomer, best female character and book of the year at the U.S. awards, which are for comics by and about women.

But Von Allan is a man — and that has some women in the industry wondering how he could be named, especially in the best newcomer category.

Now I believe pretty strongly that there is a place for comic book awards that recognize the work of groups of specific creators. I think self-identification is important to some people – I identify myself as a Canadian and to me Canadian creator awards are important. It’s the underlying philosophy for these awards.

The Lulu Awards have always focused on women working in comics. That’s about as straight-forward and definable a philosophy as you can get. Of the women who worked in comics – here were the best according to the nominating committee. Even the categories lend themselves to that definition – of the women working in comics these are the best comics done that were aimed at younger readers, or the best graphic novel, or the creator with the best overall influence/work. A best female protagonist character award could and would be open to all because the gender definition is with the character, not the creator.

With so many men nominated this year that focus has gone. The list this year seems incongruous with the old intent of the awards, which is what has people up in arms and according to the article, the old head of the organization – Valerie D’Orazio has already resigned over the matter.

I don’t want this to be seen as a put down for the men who were nominated — for example Von Allen is very talented, his webcomic and graphic novel the Road Only Knows deserves recognition and closer scrutiny, and I love David Petersen’s Mouse Guard — but it does seem pretty odd to me that the Lulu Award is not focused specifically on the work of female creators. It just makes the Lulus like every other award. It takes away what made them unique.

And on that note, I think the CBC article’s title is MISLEADING. I don’t think Von Allen is in the hot seat here. He did a great job and he’s being recognized for it. I don’t really see how anyone could take issue with Von or any of the other male creators.  If anything it is the organizers of the Lulu Awards that are in the hot seat, and they have already responded with the resignation of the chair/director.

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The other issue that is of discussion by some on Twitter and elsewhere is the legitimacy of popular vote awards.

In my experience, Popular vote awards do not work unless you are intending for them to specifically be Fan Awards. You know, like the kind Wizard magazine used to run every year… Favourite character, etc.

In order to garner interest, we did do fan voted awards in the first few years and after doing that I have a strong dislike for the fan vote process. Why? Because (a) open votes, or even open votes with a restricted group are partial to manipulation — by ballot stuffing – getting friends and family members to vote on their behalf and therefore it is difficult to say it is an earned award. Personal experience with this process (reviewing and counting the ballots during the popular vote days) still leads me to believe that the cream does rise to the top and I stand by the winners in 2005-2007, but we’re in a much stronger place with a considered, juried award system. I believe that the jury takes everyone nominated seriously because they have the time to review each one individually before making up their minds… and then they discuss it and in some cases, change their minds after listening to their peers.

I strongly dislike that the fan vote process encourages you to vote for what you know against what you may not know or have given adequate consideration to. You know, I might have read Scott Pilgrim, but I may not read have read Asterios Polyp at the time so I vote for Scott Pilgrim only to find Asterios Polyp at a later point and regret my choice.

However, these are my personal opinions (hence the op/ed designation to this post).

Kevin Boyd

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