Dustin Harbin is a cartoonist based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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Very nice. Possibly 12 of Dustin's best written diary panels so far.
12 out of… how many? Are you counting the fart jokes? Some of those are prettttttty good.. *examines fingernails*
Oh you know I love them all. ESPECIALLY the fart jokes. But seriously, you are covering a lot of ground in each panel here. You've got the text which is both reporting on the event and presenting some thoughts (not quite an argument but… ideas) and then you've got the drawings which are both illustrating the report and the ideas while at the same time poking some fun at the text and yourself. It's a sharp kind of comics writing that I've seen in your strips plenty of times before. In fact it might be what most impressed me with your diary stuff. The reason it probably stands out more here is probably just because it's longer than your normal four panel strip.
Well, that’s very kind of you. I personally find these a little disappointing, only because in my head they were so IMPORTANT and SERIOUS, but after inking them at all hours of the night, they look just as SHABBY and FAST as any of my other strips. Although I do think they’re not bad u_u
I'm kind of torn.Luckily I don't have much invested, as I'm not Canadian, but the idea of a kind of cultural elite—or art comics insiders— deciding who should be recognized over others sort of bothers me. What is the criteria? Is it how well they conform to their collective idea of "cultural value"? I'm uncomfortable with the idea that comics should be this rarified thing that promotes one groups idea of "cultural value" —and ultimately those who are awarded have achieved a valuation within that marketplace of "cultural value", wherein not being commercial in the larger marketplace improves their value. It feels like it's more about creating a safe space for comics to feel like its more like a niche in the literary/art world than being a part of the larger art/entertainment media.I guess that's ok, in a way, but I think I side effect is that it increases this feeling of comics being a hermetically sealed world, just for certain types , and those comics that don't show "cultural value" (humor, genre stuff, things that outsiders like) won't be up for consideration as much. —This is not to say that the award winners were undeserving, mind you. I guess the kinds of success I'd like to celebrate have more to do with speaking to that larger art/entertainment world, or taking an art comics sensibility to the masses.
I don’t know – I think the Wrights do a pretty good job of representing a wide range of comics work during any given year, whether it’s genre, humour or what have you. Why, this year ORC STAIN (funny, genre), STREAKERS (humour), BIGFOOT (funny), SPAIN AND MOROCCO (funny) and CATLAND EMPIRE (bizarre and funny) all received nominations.
We also have a stand-alone award for experimental, vanguard comics that we felt were being overlooked in the other categories. Just saying is all!!!
I don't know enough about the awards to really say either, so don't listen to me. I just get a vibe like it's got a kind of unstated bias going on, like the judges feel like they need to appeal to what they imagine a person who's interested in art comics and "cultural value" would like. If you open things up to a pool of published cartoonists, industry types, you might actually get some odd thing breaking through rather than whatever reflects what we wanted to see going in. But yeah, this is probably not the right context for a point about art/alt comics being too closed-off from popular culture, or being too far up its own ass.
Every award is only as good as the people who select it’s winners and finalists. In this case the finalists are selected by a committe of cartoonists and comics experts that includes Seth, Chester Brown, Jeet Heer, Sean Rogers and Jerry Ciccorritti (a Toronto filmmaker who was once contratcted to direct a Love and Rockets movie, among other things).
I think you may be revealing your own unstated bias here. I've talked extensively with the organizers of this before, during, and afterwards, and I don't see any bias at all. Then again, it might just be that my personal bias is somehow perfectly attuned to theirs, but no.
Having said that, there's ample room for bias to occur–the Wrights are nominated by a–I could be wrong here, but I think I've got it right–consistent committee from year to year, which also picks the jurists which will decide on the final prizes. So it's a potentially very small worldview–I think this year's jury was five people or so? So you could take issue easily with nominations as being indicative of a certain set of ideas, and then the actual prizes would be like a distilled version of that (again, potentially). So there's definitely room there for some less than stellar choices, and of course any choice is going to be trash-or-treasure to you or I, depending on our own biases.
I guess at some point you have to invest an award like this with a certain amount of trust, in the same way you put money in the bank or read reviews by a certain reviewer. A cultural award is only as good as the culture that believes in it (I'm guessing; I'm not very cultured).
Hey Dustin. The nominating committee typically switches out from year to year depending on a number of factors, including time and if a member has a book in the running. So, Seth and Chester will be booted off next year’s nom comm since they both have books out.
As for a bias, of course any group of individuals is bound to bring their own personal baggage to the table. But having sat in on most of the nomination meetings I can say that the discussion/arguments that take place make up for any blinkered world view. It’s not like the members all come to the table with identical choices, eat dinner and pat each other on the back. There’s a lot of back and forth — in fact, some of the best comics conversations I’ve ever heard have taken place during these meetings.
(Oh — and i was wrong in my previous comment. Jeet was not on the jury this year. Bryan Munn took his place.)
Brad I don’t mean at all to imply that there’s a “blinkered world view” with the Wrights. BUT the fact that I respect the choices that the committee has made in the past doesn’t change the fact that it’s a comparatively limited group doing the choosing. And both nominating the books and choosing the jurists, is that correct? I point this out less as a criticism.. well, maybe a little bit as a criticism, if only for how this could lead to a stunted growth for the awards going forward, as they inevitably grow in stature and history and etc.
Having said that, I’ve spent 1000% of the last four days doing nothing but think about the damn Doug Wright Awards, so I feel like I’m actually INSIDE one of them. I’m sure I’m thinking about them much more than anyone else in the whole world right now. Totally satu-wright-ed. Get it??
You’re a god-damn riot Dustin Harbin! I think it’s all food for thought (or grist for the mill?) We may be over-analyzing things here to the point of navel-gazing, but I think we’d happily welcome more folks into the org; the trouble is finding them. Remember, it’s all volunteer work — and most comics people are already busy as it is. That said, if anyone wants to throw their hat into the ring drop me a line! We’re “hiring”!
Dustin: Thanks for doing these comics! They are the most thoughtful appreciation the Doug Wright Award has received, and really get to the heart of what the award is trying to do.
Thank YOU Jeet–I missed the chance to meet you after the awards. I didn’t know what you looked like, and only after hunting online for that article did I see a picture of you, and realize you were the smiling friendly-looking guy who was talking to.. everyone! Next year!
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This review by Christopher Brayshaw was originally published in The Comics Journal #187 (May 1996). Continue reading →
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