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An Alternative Idea To The GLAAD Awards

Last week GLAAD announced its list of nominees for its 2010 Media Awards. Like in years past, criticism of the choices in the comic book category followed as it did here in a post from the insightful Christopher Butcher. Butcher rightly points out that the comic book nominees and awards primarily focus on the work of straight writers and rarely on work from LGBT folk. When LGBT creators are included, it has rarely, if ever, been for work that was independently produced outside of a mainstream publisher.

One of GLAAD’s criteria for nominating comics is how much impact (simplifying here) the comic has on LGBT representation. Impact may be understood in terms of how large the overall audience is and whether outside media brings attention to the work. GLAAD alludes to this in the following from its website:

Given to a comic book published by the four mainstream publishers and their subsidiary labels:  Dark Horse, DC, Image, and Marvel.  At GLAAD’s discretion, a comic book from another publisher may be nominated if the book achieves a level of visibility and impact similar to a mainstream publisher.  The comic book may be nominated for an individual issue, a story arc or a recurring LGBT character.

This is one factor that allows for a book like X-Factor, which I read and quite enjoy David’s writing) can be nominated while Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf is completely ignored. I’m not saying this is fair, but let’s face it, that’s the way it is, and GLAAD is unlikely to change the process in the future. Likewise, all of the coverage on Archie’s Kevin Keller helped to put it on the list, and based on this it won’t surprise me if Dan Parent wins.

Disclosure here: since 1998 I believe, though my memory is uncertain, I’ve been a member of the nominating committee. For one reason or another I didn’t participate this past year. I can say that over the time of my involvement the scope and number of comics that were considered broadened, but still rarely included indy LGBT creators. On two occasions I advocated for specific comics to be included, Terry Moore’s Strangers In Paradise and How Loathsome by Tristan Crane and Ted Naifeh. Other committee members may have advocated for other books as well, but I’m unaware of any efforts. Still and all, GLAAD will continue to honor work in the way it chooses. By nature, any organization changes slowly.

What to do then?

Collectively speaking, we can continue to criticize and bemoan GLAAD’s choices on an annual basis. Or perhaps we can think of this as a long overdue opportunity to create an independent awards process to draw attention to and honor the work of LGBT creators typically overlooked by GLAAD. The idea brought up a number of questions since it occurred to me a few days ago. The biggest of all is it worthwhile at all?  I’ll leave the answer up to others.

January 25, 2011
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