The Ledger Awards ('acknowledging excellence in Australian comics and graphic novels' for the 2019 year) was held towards the end of the year, on 4th December. Like just about everything in 2020, the event -- usually held mid-year -- was delayed and held online. The full hour-long 'show' is preserved for posterity above. As Lead Judge of the Ledger of Honour I was asked by organiser Tim McEwen (at short notice - just a day before I had a night duty shift and two days before the event) to provide a video of the recipients of the awards I oversaw. (You can see my unedited version of my segment way down below a little later in this posting. See if you can note what parts were edited out!)
The Recipients (to save you having to watch the hour-long to the event) were:
(Living) Ledger of Honour: Peter Foster
(Deceased) Ledger of Honour: Keith Chatto
The Bronze Recipients:
Burger Force, Volume 4 by Jackie Ryan. Self-published.
Deep Breaths by Chris Gooch. Top Shelf.
Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment and Survival. Various artists. (Australian contributors Rachel Ang, Sarah Firth, Meg O’Shae.) Edited by Diane Noomin. Abrams ComicArts.
Free Money Please by David Blumenstein. Self-published.
Meet Me in the Pit, #4. Chris Neill, editor. Blueprint Comics.
Mini Mel & Timid Tom by Ben Hutchings. Squishface Stuido.
It Tolls for Thee by Dr Paul Mason, found within the 2019 Phantom Annual. Published by Frew Publications.
Self/Made written by Mat Groom. Image Comics.
Shadow Portrait by Rachel Ang. World Literature Today and online.
Storm Clouds Collected by Ben Mitchell. Self-published.
The Silver Recipients:
Good Boy by Kim Lam/dangerlam. Self-published.
Haphaven by Norm Harper and Louis Joyce. Lion Forge.
Healing is a Process by Sarah Winifred Searle. Self-Published.
Silver Fox, Number 1 by Darren Dare, writer. Self-Published.
Sincerely, Harriet by Sarah Winifred Searle. Graphic Universe.
A Visit from Midnight Mummy by Tatiana Davidson. Self-Published.
The Gold Recipients:
The Adventures of Anders by Gregory Mackay. Allan & Unwin.
Chinyere by Claudia Chinyere Akole. Self-published.
An Interior Life by Bill Hope. Self-published and online web-comic.
Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries. Self-published, online web-comic, Lion Forge.
The Platinum Award: The Comic Art Workshop.
The Platinum Award is awarded to "an individual or organisation presently active in the Australian comics publishing scene, who best represents the ideals of the Awards. The recipient/s need not be directly involved in publishing or creating comics, so the field opens up to include scholars, journalists, bloggers and podcasters, event organisers...." The 2019 winner, The Comic Art Workshop was first begun in 2015 by Dr Pat Grant and Dr Elizabeth Macfarlane for graphic storytellers in Australia. You can learn more about the group by clicking this link here.
And, of course, similarly delayed in 2020, the week before the Ledger Awards in beautiful Coffs Harbour (on 28th November), the Rotary Cartoon Awards, were held at the National Cartoon Gallery (formerly The Bunker). Fortunately, the COVID-19-imposed hard border closure between Queensland and New South Wales had relaxed, so I was able to take time off work to attend the event. Carlene decided at the last minute to come along for the drive (and chose to do most of the driving), so it was a great chance to catch up and connect with each other during the journey.
Some of the money I once allocated to paying the road tolls to get to work, for the past twelve months have now been redirected to the National Cartoon Gallery. So it was good to see that some of my money has been put to good use in getting the extensions of the Gallery in place. Chairman of the Gallery, Paul McKeon, showed some of the cartoonists who arrived early the building progress. And, for future posterity, why don't I include my photos here?
There were many surprise winners this year. For purposes of history, here were the finalists and winners of the 32nd Rotary Cartoon Awards (with winners in bold)...
Open Category: John 'Polly' Farmer, Glen Robinson, George Haddon (Merit Award), and Chris 'Roy' Taylor.
Sports Category: Mark Lynch, George Haddon, Pat Hudson (Merit Award), and a clearly stunned Steve Panozzo the winner.
Political Category: David Rowe, John 'Polly' Farmer, Harry Bruce, Mark Lynch, Pat Hudson, David Rowe (Merit Award), and John 'Polly' Farmer.
Comic Strip Category: Ian Jones, Mark Lynch, Tony Lopes (Merit Award), and Mark Lynch.
Caricature Category: James Brennan, David Rowe, Michael Breen (Merit Award), and Judy Nadin.
Special Theme for the Year was "Crisis, What Crisis?": John 'Polly' Farmer, David Morris, Mark Lynch, Mark Lynch (yes, again!), David Rowe (Merit Award), and George Haddon.
John 'Polly' Farmer was also awarded the 2020 Cartoon of the Year. (I have not sought permission to reproduce it, so you will have to check it out at the Gallery yourself...!)
The National Cartoon Gallery needs your financial help. If you can spare a few dollars (all Tax Deductible) please give generously. More details if you check out this link...
The following morning the Australian Cartoonists Association held its Annual General Meeting. I've already related in an earlier post that Cathy Wilcox was successful in winning the role of President, so I perhaps don't need to go into it. I admit I was momentarily disappointed, but that's the way a democracy works. David Blumenstein held on to his Deputy President position, with Martina Zeitler (Treasurer), Steve Panozzo (Secretary) and Peter Broelman (Membership Secretary) all retaining their roles unopposed. The new-look Committee now consists of Ian McCall, Judy Horacek, Dean Rankine and David Pope. And Nat Karmichael. So, I couldn't be too disappointed, could I?
Following the AGM, it was a matter of a Stanley Award Brunch. Again, much later in the year and totally different from all past Stanley Awards, but then 2020 has been like that. The recipients of all awards were (in no particular order):
Editorial/Political Cartoonist: David Rowe.
Animation Cartoonist: Matt Bissett-Johnson.
Book Illustrator: Dean Rankine.
The new award, Event Cartoonist: Anthony Pascoe.
Single Gag Cartoonist: Matt Golding.
Caricaturist Cartoonist: Judy Nadin.
Illustrator Cartoonist: David Pope.
Comic Strip Cartoonist: Tony Lopes.
Comic Book Cartoonist: Glenn Lumsden.
Into the Australian Cartooning Hall of Fame: Cec Hartt (the first President of the Association) and Dorothy Wall (writer/creator of Blinky Bill).
Jules Faber was awarded the Jim Russell Award for his twelve-year service on the ACA Board (ten of which served as President).
And, three in a 'rowe' was Cartoonist of the Year: David Rowe.
From there, it was time for everyone to head homeward bound. Carlene and I headed back to Queensland, permitted through with our Border Pass. How strange that, as I type this, the Queensland borders have again closed to our friends in New South Wales. Life in 2020 has been strange and -- let's hope -- like no other. May we all wish for brighter days in the New Year....
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