Con jobs

A dust-up seems to be brewing over the inaugural American Anime Awards, to be debuted this year at the New York Comic Con. At MangaCast, Ed Chavez takes a moment from his travels in Japan to look over the ballot, particularly the manga nominees, and he finds it wanting. Anime News Network interrogates ICv2’s Milton Griepp over the conception of the awards program and what could be construed as ADV’s undue influence.

The awards have struck me as a rather odd fit for this particular con since they were announced. Anime isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the NYCC, and the impression was reinforced by the closing remarks from this week’s PWCW interview with con organizer Greg Toplian:

“What I’m told is that we’re the literary show. This is New York City, and it’s about comics and book publishing. Editorial staff or the licensing departments can all stop by the convention for the price of cab fare. The Friday trade day also helps. We’re a more bookish show than others and getting Stephen King to attend as a guest of honor is the perfect illustration of that.”

(Dedicated conspiracy theorists will undoubtedly note that the interview is illustrated with a photo of Toplian and ADV’s Chris Oarr. The snark-centric will undoubtedly note the dangerous proximity of “literary” and “Stephen King.”)

Aside from the overcrowding issue, the general impression that emerged from last year’s NYCC was one of wider publisher interest in the category – book publishers scouring the con floor for talent and contemplating ways to slice off their own piece of the graphic novel pie. And while anime is certainly a driver in graphic novel sales, it doesn’t seem like an intuitive fit. Back at the ANN interview, Griepp provides some background:

“New York Comic Con was actively searching for an awards program from one of its categories to be associated with the convention, so a venue and supporting event became available. The association with New York Comic Con allowed the awards program to take advantage of the location in the media capital of the world, with a very large press corps already attending.”

The PWCW interview had plenty on its plate without delving into the new awards program, and Calvin Reid did address another issue that’s been simmering:

“We’ve heard some complaints about a lack of women creators being invited officially to be a part of the show. When I checked the guest list at the Web site, there was one woman out of about 31 invited guest artists. While I understand there are more women involved in some of the as-yet-unannounced programming, this still seems like an unfortunate message to send out. Particularly since the mainstream New York comics industry has a long history of excluding women.”

One out of 31? That’s an even worse percentage than San Diego.

8 Responses to Con jobs

  1. […] There are some serious rumblings of discontent out there about the American Anime Awards. At MangaCast, Ed dubs their list of nominated manga “stranger than a PWCW top ten list” and in the comments, Yaoi Suki’s Jen Parker notes that any book that was available in 2006 was eligible: “So technically you’re voting for the best (whatever) of all time, which means they are seriously missing some stuff ;p” Apparently the initial nomination lists were riddled with errors as well. ANN’s Zac Bertschy asks some tough questions of ICv2’s Milton Greipp, starting with why the whole thing seems to be an ADV production, and it’s fun to watch him squirm. And David Welsh has more to say. […]

  2. Mitch H. says:

    The greater NYC con scene has historically had a strange fascination with anime/manga award boondoggles. The late unlamented Anime East managed to talk Tezuka’s estate into letting them name their awards after the God of Manga himself. It became a status-object and prime target for organizational looting during the Con Wars after Anime Next became one with its ancestors.

    One of the cons I work for has a Tezuka Award plaque in storage somewhere naming that event “best fan project” of, hmm, 1994 I think? I’m vaguely surprised that they didn’t resurrect the name for this new awards, but perhaps they either couldn’t find the owner of the name, or he wouldn’t cough it up.

  3. gynocrat says:

    I was following a thread over at the-engine, where some creators were discussing that, the notion of asking pros to pay for attending was, a bit much. 0_0. I have to be honest though, there’s a certain amount of pretension when it comes to anything being ‘hosted in New York’ that isn’t solely about ‘just the scene in New York’. I say this, as an ex-NYC kid, not a hater. I noticed with NYCC, it’s more about how publishers/media/creators-of-the-world, are being showcased–rather than just NY comic and manga artists, publishers, or animators.

    Just my opinon.

  4. davidpwelsh says:

    Mitch: ADV sponsoring an award program named after Tezuka strikes me as kind of wrong, so maybe it’s just as well that the rights are in hiding.

    Tina: I agree with what you’re saying, which is actually why these awards seem kind of… out of place to me. They seem so populist in comparison to the rest of the ways the con is presented. Not that there’s anything wrong with a populist element, and hey, every major con seems to need its own badly managed awards program.

    As for that Engine thread, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I think if someone’s paying for space in an artists’ alley deal, doing a scheduled signing for a publisher, or participating in con programming, then sure, comps ahoy. But if they’re just attending? When space is apparently really tight?

  5. Jog says:

    I broke down in tears when I saw Apocalypse Zero nominated for Best Manga… tears of what, I do not know.

  6. Mitch H. says:

    Jog: something horribly caustic, if Apocalypse Zero is the manga/anime I’m thinking of…

  7. […] Welsh finds problems with the American Anime Awards, saying that they seem like a bad fit for a show that’s […]

  8. Huff says:

    Yeah, those nominees are a bit…odd. Its nice to see stuff like Ohikkoshi and Nodame on there, and despite its popularity Berserk is snubbed too often by many people, but some of the picks are just random. Like “We need some more nominations so lets go grab some stuff at the bargan bin” random. I didn’t think anyone had actually bought Sword of Shibito.

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