This past weekend saw the announcement of the latest Ignatz Award winners and, as I expect you’ve heard by now, Meredith Gran won in the Outstanding Online Comic category for Octopus Pie. The series has been running since 2007 and she claims she’ll be wrapping it up soon and it won’t be eligible for a future Ignatz.
At least, in this category! Scanning through the list of the nominees in other categories, it’s easy to find works showing up elsewhere that debuted as webcomics. In fact, Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant collection Step Aside, Pops! won the award this year for Outstanding Anthology or Collection. And I think this precisely highlights one of the problems with how these (and other) awards are structured with so much seemingly getting dumped into an overbroad “online” category.
Beaton won an Ignatz a few years back for Hark! A Vagrant in the online category and, while her book here does contain new material that wasn’t available previously, it also contains some older material that would’ve been under consideration earlier.
Now there’s certainly nothing wrong with that per se. There’s nothing in the Ignatz rules that I’m aware of that the same material can’t receive multiple awards if the material happens to fall under different categories. (The Anthology rules state a work cannot have been previously collected, not published.) And Beaton obviously didn’t have anything to do with nominating herself. But it does seem to go against the spirit of the recognizing new and independent talents.
Not to mention the perennial problems with having a single online category that I’ve complained about before. Evan Dahm’s nominated work, Vattu, is currently a little shy of 800 pages long while Rina Ayuyang’s A Cartoonist’s Diary is only five pages long. And Glynnis Fawkes’ Just Doing My Job is only one! It’s not that these aren’t worthy webcomics, but they’re impossible to judge against one another. It would be like merging the minicomic and graphic novel categories.
I understand that not every awards system is perfect, and they’re largely subjective anyway, but it seems that all of these comics awards that have had “online” categories or some kind have had several years to sort out some of the basic issues that they still all seem to either be ignorant of or indifferent to.