Episode 154: SPX 2015 and the Ignatz Awards

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This week’s episode of the podcast is special, and in a number of ways. First, Derek and Andy W. record the show “live” from a common location and not from a distance via Skype. Also, they discuss their experiences at this year’s Small Press Expo, which took place September 19-20. Most importantly, though, this episode is notable for its focus on the 2015 Ignatz Awards, the first time that the Two Guys have discussed this industry recognition in any in-depth manner.  In fact, almost the entire episode is devoted to the Ignatz nominees, a substantial number of texts, and as a result, this show goes longer than usual. And they break up recording the show over a two-day period: the first third after day one of SPX (and before the Ignatz winners have been announced), and the final HowToBeHappysegment after the event has ended. Andy and Derek begin by sharing some of their experiences at SPX, including the people they met, the creators they talked with, the small press publishers who attended, and the general demographics of the crowd (this was a con that definitely skewed young). Then they go into a rundown of all the 2015 Ignatz Award nominees, discussing the nine different categories and briefly highlighting the five nominees under each. There are some categories, such as “Outstanding Anthology or Collection,” that the guys find a little problematic. Both Andy and Derek feel that a collection by a single artist and an anthology comprising a variety are completely different beasts and, as such, shouldn’t be clumped together in this manner. There are others, including “Promising New Talent” and “Outstanding Comic,” that would benefit by clearer context. (For example, what exactly defines a “new talent,” and how   might an “outstanding comic” be distinguished from an “outstanding graphic novel”?)

In the final segments of the episode — the last 2/3 that was recorded after that final day of SPX — Derek and Andy go into detail about many of the titles nominated for an Ignatz. They list the winners of each category, which were made public on Saturday night of the con, and provide a few observations. The Ignatz Awards winners are chosen by popular vote, anyone who attends the event can cast a ballot, so the Two Guys with PhDs take some of the results with a sizable grain of salt. For example, they’re surprised by the fact that neither Noah Van Sciver and Ethan Riley (both highly accomplished and nominated multiple times) received anything. DevilsSliceOr that Drawn and Quarterly: 25 Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels was shut out. Or how Sophia Foster-Dimino came out as she did. Still, one of the most notable takeaways from this year’s ceremony is the fact that women completely swept the awards, so this is definitely a year of significance. After a brief discussion of the winners, Andy and Derek get into a detailed analysis of may of the nominated titles, especially focusing on those works they’ve not yet discussed on previous episodes. These include Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf (Fantagraphics), Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy (Drawn and Quarterly) and “Sex Coven” (from Frontier #7, published by Youth in Decline), M. Dean’s K.M. & R.P. & MCMLXXI (1971), Walter Scott’s Wendy (Koyama Press), Gina Wynbrandt’s Big Pussy (2D Cloud), Jason Little’s Borb (Uncivilized Books), Mickey Zacchilli’s Rav (Youth in Decline), John Porcellino’s King Cat #75, and Georgia Webber’s Dumb series. There are so many great titles to cover, and as a result, the show goes longer than the guys anticipated. But that’s OK. SPX and the Ignatz Awards only come once a year, so why not take advantage of this celebrated occasion?

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About Derek Royal

The Comics Alternative is a weekly podcast focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There’s nothing wrong with the superhero genre…we just want to do something different.) New shows become available every Wednesday…much like the comic books you get. Episodes feature reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, spotlights on various creators and their oeuvre, roundtable discussions with prominent critics and scholars in the field, and interviews with the artists and writers who make all of this possible. Along the way, Andy and Derek will talk about the various books that they are reading; the many pop cultural references that, for better or worse, inform their lives; and the unpredictable (and inexplicable) weirdness that seems to creep into each episode. In essence,The Comics Alternative podcast is brilliantly simple: Two guys with PhDs talking about comics.

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