The Ledger Awards were first awarded to Australian comic personnel in 2005, in a mix of public voting and a judging committee. This system remained in place until 2008 when (for reasons not publically announced) they went on 'hiatus'. Look, people get busy and there were no active sponsors, so I suspect those were the main reasons. And fair enough too.
Since that time, there has been a creative explosion in the local Australian comic publishing area. Cheaper printing costs, a perception that comic creators can make some serious dollars from the medium (especially movie licensing rights), a greater awareness of the medium by people with a creative bent and a desire for people to tell their own stories have (in my opinion) all been reasons for this expansion in the medium. Whether this is translating into a greater public acceptance of comics and an increased propensity of the public in purchasing the local product, is something yet to be established. (From my experience at the Gold Coast and Melbourne Supanova events, my feeling now is that it is not -- although for OiOiOi! 's sake I hope I am wrong. But more of these thoughts on another posting....)
In 2014, with sponsors Supanova Pop Culture Expo (Platinum), State Library of Victoria (Gold), Jeffries Printing Services (Silver), Comic Books on Demand (Silver), All Star Comics (Bronze) and Impact Comics (Bronze) all on board, the Awards were able to be made public. With the influx of this sponsorship money, this allowed some actual physical awards to be crafted as well. This was in the form of a rectangular bracket (in the shape of a comic panel) attached to a square piece of timber large enough to carry an inscription of an Award Winner. (If you scroll down to my April 16th Blog entry, the last photograph in the set illustrates this.)
To give the Award a feeling of continuum from those days since 2007 and perhaps a legitimacy in the local comic community, the 'committee' organising the Ledgers (in essence, Gary Chaloner and Tim McEwan from what I can gather) decided to present some retrospective Ledger Awards for those years during the 2008-2013 'hiatus'.
Given Tim's involvement in Supanova (he is listed as a co-founder) and Gary's past involvement in the earlier Ledger Awards (either as an Award Recipient or part of the Judging Panel), I think it was a reasonable decision to present Awards in these 'Gap Years' to give it this sense of 'history' and, as I said, some legitimacy.
And to prevent any perception of bias, they entrusted a Judging Panel to adjudicate on the merits of various works over the past twelve months (for the 2014 Awards). This panel came from 'a mix of creators, retailers, publishers, scholars and commentators on Australian comics'. The panellists were: Philip Bentley, Mal Briggs, Dr Elizabeth MacFarlane, Tim McBurnie, Joe Morris and Mark Sexton.
I'm unclear how much say these Judges had in the Awards to those winners in the 'Gap Years', but overall I feel the Winners in these intervening years were both deserving and a fair reflection on the state of the Australian comics medium during this time. (My only quibble would have to have included 2009's "Scarygirl" by Nathan Jurevicius from Allen & Unwin.)
So, for the purpose of the record (and for those who read these words and were not able to be present on the evening), here were the 'honorary Gold Awards' for the years the Ledger Awards were absent. Again, if possible, I have tried to provide an external web-link to each of the creative works. This may be useful for those seeking to explore these works in more detail or in trying to purchase copies of the physical product to keep their collection of modern Australian comics up to date.
"The Great Gatsby" by Nicki Greenberg (Allen & Unwin)
"Vowels" by Skye Ogden (Gestalt Publishing)
"The Sacrifice" by Bruce Mutard (Allen & Unwin)
"In For The Krill #1" by Jill Brett and Greg Holfeld (Panic Productions)
"Hollow Fields Omnibus Collection" Madeleine Rosca (Seven Seas)
"Alec: The Years Have Pants" Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf Productions)
"Digested.02" by Bobby.N. (Gestalt Publishing)
"Flinch" by Shaun Tan, Justin Randall, Bobby.N., Colin Wilson, Tom Taylor, and others (Gestalt Publishing)
"Changing Ways. Book 1: Mutation" by Justin Randall (Gestalt Publishing)
"The Playwright" by Daren White and Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf Productions)
"Blue" by Pat Grant (Top Shelf Productions/Giramondo)
"Hidden" by Mirranda Burton (Black Pepper)
"Mad Bonez 4 Lyfe" by Andrew Fulton (Self-published)
"It Shakes and Shines and Laughs" by Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow Books)
Comicoz is Nat Karmichael's publishing imprint. Nat is committed to preserving a permanent collection of Australian comic and comic strips. He feels that there is a need to recognise comics' contribution to and depiction of Australian culture.
Since 2011, Nat has self-published over twelve comic-related books and was Publisher-Editor of
Oi Oi Oi! -- the last series of nationally-distributed comic books of original stories to appear on Australian newsstands. He is a member of the Australian Cartoonists Association and edited the Association's journal Inkspot for 14 issues from late 2015. For numerous years he was the Lead Judge in the Ledger of Honour Awards for the Comic Arts Awards of Australia (formerly the Ledgers). These days Nat dreams of retiring from his occupation as a Clinical Nurse in the Psychiatric Emergency Centre in Queensland's largest public hospital, so that he can spend more time with his long-suffering wife and their six children and fourteen grandchildren. And perhaps publish some more comic-related books.
Comicoz acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay respects to elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.
Australian Publications since 1976:
1 x Poster
19 x comics (one a co-production with Cyclone Comics in 1988/9, one a co-production with Cowtown Comics in 2022)
2 x Paperback books
10 x Hardcover books