Other than that one time that NASCAR Heroes was nominated a few years ago, the Harvey Awards are not usually rocked with controversy. This year, however, has been marked by one notable exception: Chip Zdarsky's refusal to accept the Special Award For Humor In Comics for his work on Sex Criminals.

In a post at his website, Zdarsky discussed his reasons for declining the award, specifically citing the inherent unfairness of not including writer Matt Fraction, who, in Zdarsky's words, "supplies 90% of the humor."

Zdarsky first made mention of the problem when the nominees were announced back in July with a post called "How We View Writers," where he said that he would only accept the nomination if a specific change was made to include Fraction. Sort of.


I urge the awards committee to change the ballot to say “Chip Zdarsky and Matt Fraption, SEX CRIMINALS, Image Comics.” If it does not get changed to exactly that wording, I will ask them to remove my name from the ballot completely, allowing the awards to replace my position with another middle-aged white man.


The joke, of course, was that the screenshot that accompanied the article revealed that for all of the other nominees, the opposite problem was happening. Rather than nominating teams (or even just the book itself as a finished project), the other nominations were focused on writers --- James Asmus, Fred Van Lente, and the writing team of James Asmus and Fred Van Lente --- with no mention of the artists of those books. The only book to have its creative team nominated as a whole was God Hates Astronauts, in which the "team" was writer/artist Ryan Browne.

Not only was the nomination not changed for Sex Criminals (or any of the other books), but Zdarsky ended up winning, prompting him to write another post declining the award, including his thoughts on how this all could have been corrected in the first place:


I put forth the idea to the Harveys that the category simply be changed in the future to “Best Humor Publication,” in order to recognize the end result, instead of imagining who contributed what in a team effort. They could do that or just keep the nominations to creators who do all the work on their books, like Ryan Browne or Kate Beaton. They never responded to me, so I’m putting this idea out to you, the people who vote and are voted on. In an industry that daily has to contend with lopsided credits in the media, how can we allow ourselves to contribute to it with this award? Let’s make this category reflect the teams who deserve it.

Until then, I can’t accept the award. I love the people who voted for me, but I can’t abide by the rules set in place to allow such a thing. If, for some reason, it’s already en route to me, I’ll just carve Matt’s name into it and raffle it off for the HERO INITIATIVE.


Both posts are well worth reading in their entirety, and if that Hero Initiative auction does happen, we'll keep you posted.