Long time no talk, huh? Well I'm sorry for being incommunicado for so long, but sadly I haven't had much new to report lately...until now.
I won't go into too much detail here, but I did want to swing by to tell you about a new site I put up and to let y'all know about a project my good friend Jeff Dabu and I have been working on. It's a mockumentary-action-spy-humour comic, and you can read more about it over at Season of the Shark.
Anyway, that's about it for now, but in the mean time, here's a sneak peek at the cover to issue #1.
So today I woke up to the news that Gutters had been nominated in six different categories for the 2011 Harvey Awards (yes, I keep rather odd hours, so I tend to sleep in quite late). Now as someone who has worked on Gutters since it's launch I did what anyone in my position would do. I clicked on over to www.harveyawards.org to find out exactly which categories those were.
To say I was surprised by what I found there would be a ridiculous understatement, and ever since then I've had certain thoughts pecking away at the back of my mind that I just needed to try and put into words.
Before I go on though, let me make one thing quite clear. What surprised me wasn't that Gutters got nominated...well okay, it surprised me a little. Not because I feel that Gutters is lacking in quality, but rather because I am kind of a pessimist so I'd be at least a tiny bit surprised that something I've had a hand in got nominated for anything.
In truth though I honestly feel that Gutters nominations in "writing", "online comic", "humor" (or as the Canadian in me demands I type out at least once, "humour"), and "new series" are well deserved. Everyone involved in this project has worked incredibly hard at making it the best it possibly can be with each page that gets produced. Sure, some pages are better received then others, but viewed as an overall body of work I feel we've done a great job of coming up with something quite wonderful and I'm proud to be a part of it.
Were there other comics or creators that should've maybe made the list of nominees as well? Of course. And I'm not just talking about in the categories that Gutters got nominated for. I don't think there's a single category in the Harvey's where any number of people couldn't come up with a list of at least a dozen other books or professionals that they feel got passed over that should've been nominated.
I mean who hasn't thought like that whenever they hear about the lists of nominees for any type of award show? I know I have. It's inevitable, and for some it's even quite enjoyable to sit back and come up with their own list. However in this case I do stand by my previous statement that in my honest (though let's face, possibly biased) opinion that I feel comfortable seeing Gutter listed in all those categories I just mentioned.
So no, seeing Gutters listed there didn't really surprise me.
Seeing my name listed in the "colorist" category, did surprise me however. And not just due to the fact that, as I mentioned before, I'm a natural pessimist (though that is part of it). No, you see as a full time colorist I'm one of those odd folks who constantly follows other colorist's work the same way that a lot of readers follow pencilers or writers. When I'm reading a book or see a panel or page online one of the first things I do is look past everything else and focus on the colorist's work. And if I'm blown away and I can't tell just from looking at it who coloured them, then I usually stop right there, find out who the colorist was, and start checking out what other work they've done.
So when I saw my name on the list of nominees for "best colorist", the first thing I did was suddenly come up with my own list of people who's work I would've put on the list instead. I couldn't stop myself. Names just started popping into my brain. Granted some of the names I came up with were already on that list, but there were at least half a dozen others who I feel had every right to be there too.
At the same time though, as someone who has currently dedicated his entire art career solely to being a colorist and has worked incredibly hard on Gutters, LFG, Evil Inc, Terminals, and whatever other projects I've been lucky enough to have come my way, I admit that I am pretty happy to be on that list. Yes, not every page I've done on Gutters has been gold, and as my own worst critic I do tend to focus mostly on my failures there, but overall I am proud of the work I've done. As well I feel Gutters presents a colorist with certain challenges that could possibly warrant a bit of this type of attention.
Don't get me wrong, I still feel among the other nominees that I am firmly in the "it's an honor just to be nominated" zone, but at the same time I don't feel completely out of place either.
Which brings me to what has been pecking away at the back of my mind all day and well into the night...
The last category that Gutters received a nomination for was "best artist". Specifically, me for "best artist". And I gotta tell ya folks, I can't help but feel that's just completely and utterly wrong.
Do I feel that colorists are artist who deserve to be seen as such just as much as anyone else working in the creative side of comics? You bet your ass I do. If you took Laura Martin's name and put it in that category along with her nomination for colorist, I wouldn't even think twice about it. Same goes for any number of colorists or other artists who might have been listed in two categories like that. But me? No, I just can't let myself be okay with that.
I'm not saying this to try and be humble or out of some neurotic inability to accept praise, but rather because I just flat out feel it's the truth. Maybe in the future when I've become a more well rounded artist in general or am at the top of my game as a colorist, sure. However I just don't feel comfortable with a "best artist" nomination at this point in my career.
I mean let's face it, unless I'm totally unique in my way of thinking, typically when you see a "best artist" category in comics I'd imagine the first thing the average person would think of is the penciler, right? Essentially it's a category put in place to single out the main artistic voice behind a comic, which is almost always the penciler. I mean it's great that they opened up that category a bit by attaching a broader title to it which allows people who might not quite fit the "penciler" mould a well deserved shot at it. Or, like I mentioned before, I personally would also consider people like Laura Martin to be someone who would deserve to be in the running. And I would feel the same for anyone who's ability might take them beyond whatever category specifically targets what they are best known for in comics. But in my case I just feel like I've been thrust into something I'm not completely comfortable with.
In other words, I get the impression that the professionals who voted me in for that category weren't actually expressing that they felt I was indeed the best fit for it. Instead I suspect they wanted to express their overall enjoyment of a comic that doesn't have another consistent artist working on it, so by default picked me. Which, while awful kind of them, isn't in the spirit of what I feel that category should represent. As well, in my mind that sentiment was already covered by Gutters "best online comic" nomination.
Anyway, later today (once I've had some sleep) I am going to try and get in contact with The Harvey Awards and ask to be removed from the "best artist" category (though to be clear, not the "colorist" category). In doing so I would mean no disrespect to the Harvey Awards (quite the opposite actually) or anyone who voted for me. In fact I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone kindly for doing so. At the end of the day though I have to do what I feel is right for me, and at this moment in time and at this point in my career, withdrawing from that specific category just feels like the right thing to do.
In the future however, if I ever find myself back in this exact same position, I promise I will just shut the hell up and try my best to enjoy such a nomination in silence...for at least 24 hours anyway, and then I'd make the exact same call.
PS: Oh, and for some of the more snide people out there, I'm well aware that my dropping out of that category still gives me roughly the same odds of winning that I would have had if I had stayed in. Trust me though, this isn't about my chances of winning or losing, it's about what I feel is best for the spirit of the "best artist" category and the Harvey Awards in general. Because if I truly thought I should be there to begin with, I wouldn't care if I felt my chances of winning were slightly less then getting hit by lighting as I won lottery, wild horses wouldn't be able to drag me away from that list of nominees.