(Adam Cadwell opens the British Comic Awards)
Saturday night, 17th November 2012. The first annual British Comic Awards, held in the Bury Theatre at the Armouries Hall at the Leeds Thought Bubble Festival and hosted by the man responsible for the whole thing; Adam Cadwell.
The committee was there, the judges were there, the nominees were there, and thankfully quite a few of you were there as well. I’m one of the committee members for the BCAs and a few weeks before, I’d had this awful dream of being stood on the stage, just me and the rest of the committee, talking to a completely empty room. But no, in the end, we were really pleased with the number of people filling that room.
Although short, the awards were extremely well received, and the overall sense I got from the room was that no-one could find any fault with the assembled talent we put forward. In all, we were very satisfied with how they went, even more pleased with how well received they were.
The British Comic Awards are, first and foremost, a celebration of the very best in British comics, selected on merit.
And here are those winners once more…. followed by photographs from the night, in the order the awards were presented.
BEST COMIC: Bad Machinery by John Allison
EMERGING TALENT: Josceline Fenton
YOUNG PEOPLE’S COMIC AWARD: Hilda And The Midnight Giants by Luke Pearson
Published by NoBrow Press
BEST BOOK: Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix
Published by Blank Slate Books
HALL OF FAME: Raymond Briggs
John Allison, as first award winner of the night, was wonderfully gracious, obviously so pleased to have won, but aware of the talented artists up for this. But there was also the feeling amongst us all that Allison’s Bad Machinery was well deserving of the award. Josceline Fenton was simply rather shocked and overwhelmed, unable to really speak, completely unprepared, yet absolutely thrilled. Her Hemlock comic is something special, and she’s definitely one to watch for the future.
Luke Pearson was prepared, as he’d been received his award the night before at the Young People’s Comic Award in Leeds Town Hall along with a selection of the pupils who’d chosen his wonderful Hilda and the Midnight Giant as the winner. As he said in the accompanying short film shot, edited and finished in just a few hours since the YPCA ceremony by Anne Holiday, it was a real pleasure to get an award judged by children, from the audience the book is aimed at.
Best Book went to Nelson, the massive collaborative project edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix, launched at Thought Bubble 2011, and lauded by all and sundry since its release. The one big problem we do have now is trying to convince Rob Davis to let Woodrow Phoenix have custody of the award for six months each year.
Finally, the Hall Of Fame Award went to the wonderful, the pioneering, the magnificent Raymond Briggs. Sadly Mr Briggs couldn’t make it to the ceremony, but as we said when announcing the awards, the email we received was a highlight of our year for the various committee members:
“Ye Gods! Wizard prang! Top Hole! Bang On! etcetera. A great honour. Thank you very much indeed.
In 1949 when I applied to go to Wimbledon Art School, at the age of 15, at the interview the principal said: Tell me now, why do you want to come to my art school?
Well, sir – I said – I want to learn how to draw in order to become a cartoonist.
He went crimson in the face, stood up and roared at me: Good God, boy! Is that ALL you want to do?“
You really, really shouldn’t need me to sing Mr Briggs’ praises here, as you should all know his work; from the childrens favourites of The Snowman and Father Christmas to the deeply moving and very grown-up graphic novels tales Ethel & Ernest and When The Wind Blows. But suffice it to say here; Briggs was a trailblazer for comics, something we’ve only recently begun to appreciate as we begin, slowly to catch up to the work he began so many years prior. It was with great pride, and a little tear in my eye, that we honour his important place in British comic history.
Half an hour (plus just a little overrun) of award ceremony later and we were done. It actually felt right. Next year we’ll need to alter it somewhat, especially if we have a Hall Of Fame recipient in attendance.
Finally, what has become for many the most fondly remembered couple of things about the awards.
You need to picture the scene for this. You are Joe Decie’s little boy Sam, and you’ve just seen daddy’s work The Accidental Salad on screen as part of the nominations for the Best Comic Award. You may not know what the award is about completely, but you know it’s about comics, and that daddy’s comic could win. In fact, if you’re Sam, you know daddy’s comic will win, because it’s daddy and he’s great.
I shall now hand you over to Joe Decie, who very wonderfully put the whole thing into comic form:
Oh, it was equal parts funny, heartbreaking, and mortifying for us all. Sam did calm down after a little while. And then he did the best heckle of the night (in fact, thank goodness, the only heckle of the night). Having sat through all of the awards, we get to the Best Book, and Luke Pearson’s Hilda cover flashes up on screen, his second nomination this year.
The audience is silent, in that pause before clapping. And all we hear, from Sam’s direction…..
Brilliant comedy timing. Mr and Mrs Decie – you have a wonderful son.
And that was it for the very first British Comic Awards. Hopefully you’ll agree when we say that we think it went well, that the awards were successful, that the recipients really were the best of British comics.
Because that’s what we set out to do, right from the very start, when Adam Cadwell got in touch with those who would eventually form the Awards committee responsible for drawing up the shortlists for the judges. The awards were meant to be something simpler and purer than what had gone before. No meaningless distinctions between print or digital, no superfluous awards for best US character or best editor. No seperation of work into colour or black and white, no ridiculous debate over silly terms such as mainstream or indie, no tokenism, no preferential treatment to equal out the choices, no positive discrimination.
No, the British Comic Awards are simply about merit. In the end, after you emailed your many, many suggestions, we put them all together with our own choices to form an awards longlist which, after much debate and discussion became a shortlist of 20 across the 4 awards. And those meritorious works were then given over to our talented panel of judges. We’d done our bit, let them do the really hard part and pick the winners.
So thank you to all of you who were involved. To the readers who sent in suggestions for the awards, to my fellow committee members especially Dan Berry for designing and constructing the awards, to our 2012 judging panel, to the schoolchildren judges of the Young Peoples Award, to Lisa Wood, Clark Burscough and everyone at Thought Bubble who made the awards possible. And a huge thank you and well done to Adam Cadwell, who came up with the idea in the first place and did an enormous amount of work getting us to this stage.
But most of all, thank you to those involved with making the comics. We’ve had a wonderful year looking at the very best that British comics can provide. We look forward to doing it all over again in preparation for the British Comic Awards 2013. See you next year.
We’ll be doing it all over again