I didn't make it to the Ledger Awards this year, although their timing is always impeccable -- held on the Friday evening before Melbourne's Supanova weekend. The main reason I didn't go: I decided to save my pennies to join Melbourne's Homecooked Festival -- held a couple of weeks after the Ledgers. From a financial point of view, I felt I could afford go to one and not the other. (That is, Supanova or Homecooked.) As I had never been to Homecooked, I decided to give it a try this year. Although Melbourne's Supanova had been good to me last year, I thought it important to enter under my own name for a change, rather than riding on the coat-tails of my beloved Australian Cartoonists' Association.
(Not that Comicoz was absent from Supanova. Frantz Kantor was at the Australian Cartoonists' Association stand on my behalf, spreading the good word about Oi Oi Oi! and his Magpie feature....)
I think what swayed me, in choosing between the two events, was Homecooked being a comics Festival. So, if you are in Melbourne next Sunday (May 1st), please come along to Northcote Town Hall (that's at 189 High Street, Northcote). All the activities begin at 12 and the gates close at 5 o'clock (5 p.m.). Entry is free! The whole Town Hall is filled with Comics. What other reason do you possibly need?
This year I was honoured to be invited to be a part of the Committee behind what became (mid-tenure) the Ledger of Honour. I was joined by comic luminaries Daniel Best, Matt Emery, Mick Stone, Dr Kevin Patrick and chaired by Tim McEwen. I believe that to maintain the integrity of the judging process, and thus the Awards of this category (divided into two sections: those that are retired from the medium and those who are now deceased), I might be best by refraining from major comment. Let me say, though, that while I had some strong viewpoints, I thought the selection process in these awards were fair and balanced and the Awards clearly reflected the Committee's wishes. I went into the Committee with an open mind and, with the research required to formulate a winner, I did find myself changing my mind from who I thought would win to who I thought should win (which just happened to be who eventually did win). If that makes sense.
And so, the Recipients of the 2016 Ledger Awards were:
Ledger of Honour (Retired): Peter Chapman.
Ledger of Honour (Deceased): 'Syd' Nicholls (1896 - 1977).
It was also my great honour to be able to work behind the Ledger scenes, in contacting Syd's two daughters before the ceremony, so they were able to attend on the night. It would be remiss of me, if I didn't say that the contact was carried out with some great help from both Justin Wedd and Dorothy Wedd. I also volunteered to write a 2000 word appreciation of Syd Nicholls, with the text having to be written in a (very!) short period of time. Final last-minute editing assistance by both Lindsay Foyle and Graeme Cliffe should also be acknowledged!
Platinum Ledger (acknowledging those that best represent the ideals of the Ledger Awards): a well-deserved nod to Bernard Caleo.
I contemplated making an Editorial comment here about not so much the winners of the Major Awards, but of a possible public perception of the Major Ledger Awards in general. However, it may open me to criticism of sour grapes in not having any of my works being nominated (and, I confess, I was among many of a few creatives who were disappointed in not making the initial Short List), so I might best refrain from making any comments here altogether. Rather, I intend to eventually raise my thoughts with the organisers; as my thoughts are intended to be positive and constructive, and because I believe that the Ledgers are of integral importance to the local comic 'industry' and they need to continue. So, without further ado:
Neomad the Complete Collection by Sufu, Love Punks and Satellite Susters.
Oglaf by Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne.
Fly the Colour Fantastica Anthology by Various Artists. (Everyone will know how I feel about these winners, given the way I championed this book during the year, and at my beginning of the year Comicoz Award announcement.)
The Diemenois by Jamie Clennett
Black Magick by Nicola Scott and Greg Rucka. (I'm unclear if Greg, the writer of this American-published comic shares the Award with Nicola, given that he is not Australian. And, my further question: does Sydney-based colourist Chiara Arena -- who drew the cover to Oi Oi Oi! Issue #5 -- get an award too?)
Maralinga by Jen Breach and Doug Holgate.
Evermore by Isabelle Carmody and Daniel Reed.
Cartoonist by Neale Blanden.
Art is a Lie by Susan Butcher and Carol Wood.
One further comment. The year's Annual give-away, recording all of the winners, is most impressive. Over the past two years ceremonies there has been a comic floppy to preserve the winners for posterity, and they have been worth hanging on to for that purpose. This year's was absolute step-up in quality; it really was first-class. I was most impressed and commend Bruce Mutard and his Fabliaux Team for such an excellent job. With thanks to punter Ian McCall, who was there for the occasion of the Ledger Awards while I was not, Comicoz has five copies of this Annual to give away for free to the first five people who were not able to attend and who leave messages below this blog entry. Go for it!
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 has been 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