Back for their 3rd year with New York Comic Con, The Harvey Awards recently announced their list of nominations for 2020!;
The Harvey Awards nominees are a good place to find new material you may have missed throughout the past year. While I won’t be going into detail about all of the media below, this is the full list of what is nominated. Some books have been highlighted, but I promise this does not devalue any of the other books on this list. When you’ve got a ‘Book of the Year’ list that has everything from a modern day superstar like Tillie Walden to an underground legend like Kim Deitch, how do you pick what to write about? I encourage everyone to look into all of these books, make your own choices, and expand on your comics knowledge.
Voting for the Harvey Awards is open from now until September 21st. If you are a creator, librarian, comic retailer, press, or publishing professional, you may apply to vote here. As one of the oldest and most prestigious comics awards, this is a great opportunity to go to bat for your favorite comics and give them the recognition they deserve.
Book of the Year
- Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (First Second)
- Tillie Walden has one of the most distinct styles going right now in graphic novels. All of their books feel like they are from this golden hour, purple skied dreamscape pulled out of some of the more serene scenes of a Miyazaki movie. The follow up graphic novel to their award winning On A Sunbeam, Tillie offers up a new type of story, this time rooted in real life, following two lesbians dealing with their own trauma, grief, and the development of a beautiful friendship. Tillie makes me hopeful for the future of comics.
- Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
- Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (Drawn and Quarterly)
- The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Invisible Kingdom Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Dark Horse Books/Berger Books)
- Little Bird: The Fight for Elder’s Hope by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram (Image Comics)
- Making Comics by Lynda Barry (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Reincarnation Stories by Kim Deitch (Fantagraphics)
- Rusty Brown by Chris Ware (Pantheon Graphic Library)
- One of the most thoughtful and talented cartoonists of our lifetime, Chris Ware’s Rusty Brown is the collected work of a book that Ware has been working on for the past 18 years. I wouldn’t recommend trying to consume this in one sitting because your brain might snap in half, but this book is truly a work of art. Ware is known for his attention to the many, many details within his books and there is no exception in Rusty Brown. There are 3 different narratives going on, sometimes on the same page. His trademark melancholy prose is in full effect, leaving you feeling a little emptier than you might’ve already been.
- Something is Killing the Children Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera (BOOM! Studios)
Digital Book of the Year
- Afterlift by Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo (ComiXology Originals)
- The Eyes by Javi De Castro
- Fried Rice by Erica Eng
- Upon reading Fried Rice, I'm grateful that I chose to write about it. At 22 years old, Erica is the youngest nominee on this list. What she’s created with Fried Rice is a beautiful slice-of-life tale about her home in Malaysia and her time getting ready for college. There are currently 62 pages released out of a total 200 with a new page coming out every Sunday. The story is told in little vignettes with some of the most beautiful and practical coloring I’ve seen in comics recently. A fun look into a world not my own in any easy to read format.
- Harley Quinn: Black White & Red edited by Chris Conroy, Maggie Howell, Andy Khouri, and Amedeo Turturro (DC Comics / DC Digital First)
- The Nib edited by Matt Bors
Best Children or Young Adult Book
- Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha (HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray)
- Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
- Guts by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)
- The best selling comic creator in the country is back with her newest graphic novel, Guts and the kids are loving it. As a male in his late 20s, I am not the demographic intended for this book, but I did get an Advanced Reader Copy at Bookcon last year which I gave to a coworker for his middle-school aged daughter. I later received a very thoughtful thank you letter and was told that she absolutely loved it and it was already making the rounds amongst all her friends. When I saw Raina speak about this book, she was proud that it was about all her stomach troubles and every noise and smell that comes with them. Dedicated to anyone who is afraid, Guts is the book we should be giving all our children, not just the ones who grew up with IBS or other stomach troubles.
- Stargazing by Jen Wang (First Second)
- Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru (DC Comics)
Best Adaptation from Comic Book/Graphic Novel
- Blacksad: Under the Skin video game by Microïds, based on Blacksad (Dark Horse Comics)
- I Am Not Okay With This by Netflix, based on I Am Not Okay With This (Fantagraphics)
- Written by the great Charles Forsman, I Am Not Okay With This and his other show, The End Of The F***ing World are perfect examples of how to turn a graphic novel into a television show. Both shows, created by Jonathan Entwistle, are edgy, moody teen dramas that are equally enjoyable for adults. Teenage angst mixed with discovering you have superpowers feels like a tried and true formula, but still I Am Not Okay With This finds much more nuance and a sense that these kids would also fit right inside an Apatow movie.
- Joker by Warner Bros. Pictures, based on Batman (DC Comics)
- Legion: Season 3 by FX Productions and Marvel Television, based on X-Men (Marvel Comics)
- Locke & Key: Season 1 by Netflix, based on Locke & Key (IDW Publishing)
- The Old Guard by Netflix, based on The Old Guard (Image Comics)
- The Sandman audio drama by Audible, based on The Sandman (DC Comics/Vertigo)
- Stumptown: Season 1 by ABC, based on Stumptown (Oni Press)
- The Umbrella Academy: Season 2, by Netflix, based on The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse Comics)
- Watchmen by HBO, based on Watchmen (DC Comics)
- H.P. Lovecraft’s At Mountains of Madness by Gou Tanabe (Dark Horse Manga)
- The Man Without Talent by Yoshiharu Tsuge (New York Review Comics)
- While not exactly a new book, The Man Without Talent is one of the many gekiga titles to hit the US market in recent years. Following in the footsteps of gekiga master, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Tsuge carries on the tradition of writing about the common man of Japan- many times down on his luck and overlooked by society. The Man WIthout Talent is a self portrait seeped in frustration and poverty. The book is more comical than not but with a very dry delivery. You’re left feeling like maybe you should be pitying Tsuge because of all his failures, but the argument is made that he did it to himself. Gekiga has been one of my favorite comic discoveries in the last year and I look forward to more of this work being translated.
Worth noting for those interested in gekiga, Ryan Holmberg, in collaboration with Bubbles Fanzine, recently released a book called The Translator Without Talent, that goes into great detail about many different sides to the world of alternative manga. A truly remarkable feat and one that expands on his essay in The Man Without Talent.
- The Poe Clan by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics)
- The Way of the Househusband by Kousuke Oono (VIZ Media)
- A surprisingly funny slice-of-life story about an ex-yakuza giving it all up to be a stay at home husband. The humor of this book is weaved into the narrative rather than relying on a few gags. There have been a few volumes released since the first so you’ve got plenty to read if you are enjoying it.
- Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama (Kodansha Comics)
Best International Book
Note: This category has been reconfigured for 2020 from 2019’s “Best European Book” to be more inclusive of other works.
- Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (Drawn and Quarterly) (TW: abuse, rape)
- One of the things I’ve been reading a lot over quarantine is post-war manga from Japan. While it may seem obvious to some, it’s mostly very bleak. As someone raised in America, we look at the end of World War II with star spangled glory, where we entered into an age of prosperity and suburbia. What Gendry-Kim has done with Grass is a third perspective - and one that has been a dark stain on 20th century Asian history. The story follows main character Lee Ok-sun as she is captured by Japanese Imperial Soldiers in World War II and forced into sexual slavery and how she overcomes this trauma. The story is a true account and Gendry-Kim was able to interview Lee throughout the process. Beautifully illustrated, this is likely the most powerful graphic novel on this list.