Harvey Awards to induct 6 new hall of fame members
By George Gene Gustines
The Harvey Awards, which celebrates comic books, will be adding six members to its hall of fame. They will be inducted at New York Comic Con on Oct. 13.
Five of the six inductees are well regarded for their superhero work. They are Marv Wolfman and George Pérez (who is being inducted posthumously), who transformed some of DC’s sidekicks into the fan favorite New Teen Titans; Chris Claremont, who turned the mutant X-Men into a popular franchise; Walt Simonson, who is known for his work on Marvel’s Thor; and Louise Simonson, who co-created the preteen heroes Power Pack.
John Lind, a chair of the Harvey Awards steering committee, noted that these creators have shaped some of the most revered story lines of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Their works “have become the cornerstones of the comic book industry and remain a virtual master class for modern-day creators on how to craft compelling and innovative superhero narratives,” he wrote in an email.
Walt Simonson, reflecting on his time in the industry, said in an interview that his work on Manhunter from 1973-74, with Archie Goodwin, was a sentimental favorite. It was near the beginning of his career and was critically lauded. “When that strip ended, all the editors knew who I was and all the other freelancers knew who I was, and I really never had to go look for work again,” he said.
Louise Simonson, who began her career as an editor in 1974, said, “I think it is very cool that they’re giving it to us at the same time.” In addition to helping create Power Pack, she was also one of the creators who worked on the bestselling “The Death of Superman” in the 1990s. The Simonsons, who are married, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first date next year. They collaborated on several issues of X-Factor, a comic book series about the original five X-Men. They also each made an appearance in the 2011 movie “Thor.” (Their relationship, they recalled, ignited from a phone call. He loved her voice; she told him, “You draw great hands.”)
The sixth honoree, Bill Griffith, created the free-spirited Zippy the Pinhead, an underground comics character that later became a newspaper strip. The character first appeared in 1971 and became a weekly feature in the underground newspaper The Berkeley Barb in 1976. Zippy soon achieved national syndication and fresh installments continue to come out. “Griffith’s influence continues to cast ripples throughout contemporary American humor,” Lind wrote.
The Harvey Awards began in 1988 and were named after Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist who created and founded Mad magazine. In addition to the hall of fame honors, the awards recognize several categories of comics, like book of the year, best international book, best manga and best adaptation. The book awards nominees are determined via a survey of about 200 industry professionals, librarians, educators and creators who submit candidates for each of the categories. The selections are tallied and pulled into a ballot, which is then open to a vote by all industry professionals, creators and librarians.