Martha Thomases: And The Winner Is…
Unlike my esteemed colleague Jen Krueger, I watched the Academy Awards all the way through on Sunday (although at the same time I was also fixing dinner, playing fetch with my cat, and incessantly checking my e-mails, and then later trying to find a position in bed so I could see but still be horizontal).
I like to watch award shows for different reasons than most people, at least if I believe the Internets. All those technical awards that everybody hates? Those are my favorites. I love to see someone who is not a celebrity recognized for his or her work. I love to see them get their moment literally in the spotlight. I imagine their mothers at home, kvelling.
It’s also great to see ordinary-looking people recognized, people who are not genetically blessed and then prepped by trainers, stylists and plastic surgeons.
So, during one of the snooze-filled production numbers (and if they don’t want the show to run long, why do they do them?), I started to imagine a televised awards show for comics.
Now, I know we have two major American comics awards, the Eisners and the Harveys. Both are fun to attend, reward deserving talent and let our industry enjoy a mutual pat on the back. Neither one is ready to attract a television (or Internet) audience. The reasons why demonstrate some of the major problems we face, both in terms of our art and in terms of our business.
All awards shows have had to adapt, to keep themselves relevant to the audience they most desire. According to at least one critic, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (and the people who paid them to broadcast the show) want to present a more diverse version of the movie industry. As a result, they more prominently feature people of color as nominees and presenters. They acknowledge that women do more than look pretty on-screen, but also write, produce, edit film and more.
Let’s consider the format for our show. On all televised awards shows that I’ve seen, there is a host (or hosts), and then paired presenters in each category. Usually (but not always) this couple consists of a man and a woman who are famous in their industry (movies, television, music). In order for a comics awards show to fit this criteria, we would have to find a lot more women either in the industry or associated with it.
As much as I have enjoyed Kyle Baker, Evan Dorkin, Mark Waid and others hosting industry events, they aren’t ready to host a television show. My choice today (I may have a different opinion tomorrow) is Patton Oswalt. He’s funny, he can think on his feet, and he loves comics. Really, it’s the first two that are most important.
We’d have to open up the categories a bit to attract viewers, giving prizes to best adaptation of a comic in another medium. This acknowledges that most people know about comics through movies, television and the Internet. Even more important, I demand to see Shia LaBeouf give out the award for best adapted screenplay.