The 17th annual Ignatz Awards, held at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, received a 70% increase in nominations this year, according to Warren Bernard. That can only indicate a boom in production and in ambition when it comes to independent and small press comics production. Though there were plenty of self-referrential jokes about "Tablegeddon" this year, and the difficulty in getting exhibitor space, the increase in tabling has been obvious on the show floor. As last year's outstanding attendance for SPX demonstrated, it's an Expo that is seeing tremendous growth all around.
Bernard thanked Heidi MacDonald of The Comics Beat for her speech on the subject of comics at the Library of Congress on the 13th of October, in conjunction with her massive donation of historic mini comics to the Library, and also took a moment to remember the passing of Kim Thompson, who had been an institution at SPX and will be sorely missed.
The award show was hosted by New Yorker editorial cartoonist Liza Donnelly, who in keeping with her trade, created several comics to address the relationship she feels exists between cartooning and comics production, "cut from the same cloth" and sharing a mutual "worship of this art form". When given the chance to pick this year's presenters, Donnelly decided to select a group of female cartoonists, or as she prefers to call them, "cartoonists who are women" to support diversity within the field. Presenters included Becky & Frank, Jen Vaughn, Carol Tyler, Ulli Lust, Raina Tegelmeier, Kate Leth, Mikhaela Reid, Lucy Knisley, and Rutu Modan.
This year, the ComiXology: Submit program is sponsoring the post-awards gala, a highly appropriate team-up for the fostering of independent comics. Chip Mosher addressed the gathering at the conclusion of the awards to express his desire that more of the Ignatz nominees will, in future, be available digitally through ComiXology since they are currently underrepresented, especially in proportion to the number of Eisner Award and Harvey Award nominees whose works are available. He also congratulated the winners and promised plenty of drinks tickets, to a round of applause. But it does raise the question: will there be a chocolate fountain like last year?
So, without further ado, Michael DeForge swept the awards this year, a winner in three categories, leading presenters and the audience wondering how he would ever get his three real-brick based Ignatz Awards back to Canada without too much trouble. The winners for each category, courtesy of senior SPX Correspondent, David Dissanayake, are:
Outstanding Mini Comic, presented by Becky & Frank:
Outstanding Story, presented by Jen Vaughn:
Outstanding Comic , presented by Carol Tyler:
Outstanding Anthology Collection, presented by Ulli Lust:
Outstanding New Talent, presented by Raina Tegelmeier:
Outstanding Online Comic, presented by Kate Leth:
Outstanding Series, presented by Mikhaela Reid:
Outstanding Graphic Novel, presented by Lucy Knisley:
Outstanding Artist, presented by Rutu Modan: